Situated just above Sir Lowry Pass village is Journey’s End – a boutique wine farm with a focus on producing premium wines.
Purchased in 1995 by the Gabb family, this 20ha vineyards was replanted and by July 2011 has grown to 120ha.
Journey’s End focus is on Chardonnay, Merlot and Shiraz/Syrah, however in 2015 saw new vineyards and plantings of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
We arrived at the cellar and taken for a tour and barrel tasting by Winemaker, Mike Dawson and Brand Development Manager for South Africa and Africa, Janine Lategan. We started our barrel tasting with “The Identity”, a 2019 Sauvignon Blanc a light, fresh, fruity and minerality.
Next we tried was a 2019 barrel fermented Chardonnay. A beautiful wine that is very fruity and citrus driven and not overly buttery.
Besides tank and barrel fermentation with their Chardonnays, Mike is testing out terracotta eggs as a vessel for fermentation as the shape of the egg can constantly move the wine around.
Mike Dawson started Journey’s End in 2015 coming from Steenberg in Constantia Valley. In 2016, Journey’s End produced 140 tonnes of wine and in 2019 with the help of a new start of the art press, they were able to produce 550 tonnes of wine which attributed from the recent acquisition of neighbouring farms.
We then went for a formal sit down tasting going through the Tales, V and Precision Ranges.
Tales Range: The Weather Station Sauvignon Blanc 2019
Named after the original Sauvignon Blanc clone that was taken from the vineyard that was next to an old weather station, that is now the Stellenbosch Wine Campus. This wine has hints of apple and pear and is well balanced.
V Range: Chardonnay 2018
Lovely mid-level Chardonnay, that’s citrus taste on the pallet. Made in a way to start in stainless steel then moved to French Oak during racking to bring a slight oaky finish. Tastes of green fruit, slight lemon and citrus.
Precision Range: Destination Chardonnay 2019
Part of the flagship range at Journey’s End, this is one to keep for an extended period of time. Everything to do with this wine is precise. From the grapes that are handpicked from the 2.5ha single vineyard to the hand sorting to ensure that the best grapes are selected. Like all Journey’s End wines, citrus plays a part but the use of French oak transforms the wine adding a lovely nutty and creamy finish to the wine. Worth hanging onto for at least 10 years.
Precision Range: Destination Chardonnay 2017
As a comparison, we were treated to 2017 vintage of the Destination Chardonnay. The stages of wine making hasn’t changes between vintages with the same care and quality but the age intensified the creamy and fruity elements of the wine.
That was the whites, now the reds…
Tales Range: The Huntsman Shiraz, Mourvedre, Viogner2018
The story behind the name is that in 1811 the first ever hunt in the Western Cape was conducted and the foundations of the kennels were discovered where the cellar stands.
This lovely blend with ruby red colour and the tastes of spice and floral notes on the nose. The big bold flavours of the Shiraz (85%) and the Mourvedre (10%) bring out the dark cherries, while the Viogner (5%) adds the floral notes.
Hand sorted and destemmed but not crushed not to produce an overly tannic taste the reds are fermented in the larger 500 litre French oak barrels for 12 months before all 3 are blended together just before bottling.
Tales Range: Pastor’s Blend: Cab Sauv, Merlot and Cab Franc 2018
The story of where the name of wine came from was one Sunday night when Rollo Gabb was staying at Journey’s End and hears this music coming from Sir Lowry Village. Thinking it’s a party of some kind he proceeds down to the village with a couple cases of the wine and ventures upon the local church. Since then Rollo has donated funds back into the upliftment of the local community and scholarships for young children in Sir Lowry Village.
Picked early in the morning and stored in a cold room overnight, then again hand sorted and pumped into stainless steel tanks for fermentation where the grapes go through a 72 hour cold soak. This is done so that there is no spontaneous fermentation and can develop more flavour, aromatics and berry flavours. When the alcohol starts to build up and the ethanol starts to degrade the seed coating and this give you your structure and texture in your wines. The pump overs gives you flavour and aromatics.
The wine is then barrel aged for 18 – 22 months in a combination French and American oak barrels. Shiraz is about 20% American oak and the Merlot is 10% American oak. The American oak adds a sweeter element to the wine.
V Range: Merlot 2016
A bright ruby colour with the taste of blackcurrants, raspberries and a hint of eucalyptus on the nose. Aged in French oak barrels for 18 months where 30% is new barrels and only blended at bottling.
V Range: Shiraz 2016
An opposite in ruby colour from the Merlot where the Shiraz is a dark ruby with a hint of purple colour, this Merlot goes through the same process as the red wines at Journey’s End and it aged in a 2nd and 3rd fill American and French Oak barrels for 16 months. A lovely dark fruit mic of cherries, raspberries, blueberries and a hint of white pepper.
After our tasting we were given a demonstration of something you wouldn’t normally see on a wine farm, or in South Africa unless you are at a medieval festival and that is a full size, fully functioning Trebuchet! What is a trebuchet? A trebuchet is a catapult but at Journey’s End, the only item thrown here are barrels and the occasional car. We were given a demonstration of a water filled barrel which was thrown at least 100 metres before crashing into the ground.
After the demonstration, we were treated to a lovely 3 course lunch by the Properties Manager, Shelley Retief in her home on the farm.
First course was a beetroot and goats cheese salad. Main course was an Asian inspired salmon, vegetables and egg noodles. Then a final course was a marvellous finish to the meal with a choc mint crisp tart.
With our meal, we had a V5 Cabernet Franc 2017 and the Cape Doctor 2015.
Cape Doctor 2015
The Cape Doctor is a beautiful wine, with deep fruitcake taste on the nose and incredibly smooth. Just under the 14% alcohol, this south facing slopes, decomposed granite only produces a limited number of barrels (around 10 – 13 barrels) and is worth every drop.
V5 Cabernet Franc 2017
Cab Franc is a one of those wines that is mostly known for its use in blends but is being more and more used as a single cultivar. Tastes of black plum and a hint of white pepper. This is a perfect red meat dish and is amazing smooth.
Journey’s End is an amazing experience. Tastings are by appointment only and for groups of 6 or more. Contact Mike Dawson for more information and bookings at firstname.lastname@example.org.
General contact info is email@example.com or 021 8581929.
Follow them on social media by visiting /journeysendwines or their website http://www.journeysend.co.za