Have you been to Bonnievale before? Majestic mountains on the one side and the ever-flowing Breede River on the other, the magnificent landscape and beauty invites you with warm unpretentious hospitality.
Bonnievale is one of South Africa’s most exciting wineries. Bonnievale Wines is named after the town founded at the turn of the 19th century by visionary Scotsman Christopher Forrest Rigg. To him the “bonnie vale” was a haven of beauty, happiness, hospitality and prosperity.
Bonnievale is situated about 150km due east from Cape Town and located halfway between Robertson and Swellendam. The winery is located on the banks of the Breede River, in a fertile valley created by the Riviersonderend and Langeberg Mountains that has a long association with excellent dairy, fruit and wine grape farming.
The Bonnievale ward is situated within a short distance from the coast, source of cool ocean air during the ripening process and is essential for the slow development of flavourful fruit. Thus ensuring the best fruit from vine to bottle.
The Bonnieville ranges comprises of:
🔹Nature Collection: Easy-drinking and fruit-driven wines for everyday enjoyment.
🔹River Collection: Medium to full-bodied wines with different cultivars to express the fruit characters.
🔹The Vale: Sparkling range in a slightly drier style that express varietal fruit character and easy to enjoy.
🔹Limited Release: Reserved for their finest wines.
🔹Neat Range: De-alcoholised wines.
They offer two wine tastings that allow you to choose three or five wines to taste from their Nature, River Collection, The Vale and Limited Release.
🔹3 wines for R30
🔹5 wines for R50
BEHIND THE LABEL
The culture of teamwork, respect and collaboration are reflected in their Crest which is core to their brand. The 3 Arches is a symbol of the 3 original wineries. The ribbon tying everything together and displays unity. The blue in the middle represents the river, the life of the valley. The yellow on the sides represents the farms and vineyards they get their grapes from.
WINES WE TASTED
Bonnievale The River Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2022
The block of Sauvignon Blanc is situated where Riviersonderend and Breede River meet. Fresh and crisp like a sunny winter’s morning, this wine shows a hint of flintiness, with tropical fruit flavours balanced by subtle herbaceous undertones.
Bonnievale The River Collection Cinsault Rosé 2022
Beautiful rose gold in the glass. Made in the crisp, dry style of rosé that has been perfected in Southern France. It’s light, aromatic and refreshing with lots of strawberries and watermelon flavours.
Bonnievale The River Collection Chardonnay 2022
The valley is known for their Chardonnay. This is an unoaked Medium-bodied wine with inviting aromas of grapefruit and peach on the nose. These characters flow onto the palate with slight dried fruit tones on the aftertaste and a satisfying finish.
Bonnievale Limited Release Chardonnay 2021
This wine opens up with a beautiful bouquet of lime and grapefruit. The palate is crisp and fresh with a distinct flinty finish. The wine spent 7 months in French oak. Well integrated and supports the fruit but also delivers a smooth rounded mouthfeel.
Bonnievale The River Collection Pinotage 2020
Medium-bodied red wine. Pure plum and red berry flavours supported by subtle coffee and chocolate aromas that come together in a juicy soft taste sensation. Underwent malolactic fermentation followed by a combination of tank and wood maturation.
Bonnievale The River Collection Merlot 2021
A full-bodied wine with tomato leaf on the nose. Delightful notes of red and black berries underpinned by delicious vanilla spice. Juicy ripe tannins and great mouthfeel.
Bonnievale The River Collection Shiraz 2020
Hints of pepper and spice on the nose with delicious juicy raspberry flavours together with some butterscotch and hints of coffee. A more fruit-forward wine with a long and memorable finish.
Bonnievale Limited Release Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
On the aroma this wine displays beautiful red fruit supported by hints of liquorice. The juicy red fruit carries through on the palate with fine, ripe tannins that provide structure and depth. The 18 months spent in French and American oak delivered a balanced and well integrated wine with a lingering aftertaste.
The guided cellar tours are informative and is an interesting journey filled with wine making techniques, the different tanks, presses and the separators where the juice and skins are being separated. In the production cellar, the wine making process is explained.
Bonnievale Wines comprises of 4 production cellars – Nordale, Merwespont, Bonnievale and Wandsbeck and the cellar process grapes from 100 members. A vast terroir that provides the wine team to play with picking and choosing from the best this terroir can offer. With the strict policy of only bottling the best. As a result of this, they built up a reputation for being a consistent performer in local and international wine awards, and with an impressive trophy collection.
Under South Africa’s legislated Wine of Origin scheme, Bonnievale is certified as being a producer of the Breede River Valley in the district of Robertson. Wines made here are proudly labelled Wine of Origin: Bonnievale.
INDULGENT PLATTERS AND PAIRINGS
Cheese Platter for 2
Why not enjoy a delectable cheese platter where Bonnievale is known as the “Valley of Cheese and Wine”. The tasting room is surrounded with a backdrop of mountains and landscape that is like a picture postcard.
Their courtyard is cosy with a beautiful water feature to set an ambience of relaxation, perfect on a hot, sunny day. Or opt for a cosy setting next to the fireplace in the tasting room.
Their cheese platters are highly recommended and includes an assortment of cheeses, fig preserve, biltong and olives, nuts and some tasty meat options. Cheese platter R110 for two people sharing and pairs beautifully with any of their amazing wines. Definitely worth it.
Chocolate And Wine Pairing
Have a sweet tooth and love wine and chocolates? Bonnievale Wines offers a delicious pairing that will soothe any sweet tooth cravings. Beautifully presented and includes 5 wine and chocolate pairings. Wine & Chocolate Pairing R60 per person.
🔹The Vale Sauvignon Blanc paired with Champagne Truffle.
🔹The Vale Brut Cinsault Rosé paired with Ruby Chocolate.
🔹The River Collection Sauvignon Blanc paired with Truffle.
🔹The River Collection Chardonnay paired with Coconut Milk Chocolate.
🔹The River Collection Chenin Blanc paired with Orange Dipped Chocolate.
THE PIONEER WHO UNLOCKED EVERYTHING
Bonnievale has a lovely history of how one man, against all odds, tamed the Breede River by building a 35km long water channel, to supply the rich soil with enough water for sustainable farming.
The story begins with Christopher Forrest Rigg, born in 1861 in Scotland. His parents emigrated to South Africa when he was only two years old. The family settled in Transvaal – the mining town of Baberton. He lived an inferesting life as a traveler and dynamite blaster, although his father wanted him to become a detective.
After two marriages and the birth of several children he settled in Bonnievale with his wife, Lilian Isobel Elizabeth Moon, in 1900. At the time of their marriage, Lilian was 19 and Rigg was 33 years old. They had three daughters but only one survived infancy. His youngest daughter, Mary Myrtle, was born in 1903. A pretty child and strongly religious, she used to love playing in a lucerne field near her home. Sadly in 1911, at seven years of age, she contracted meningitis. Her dying wish to her father was to build her a small church and so he did.
Mary Myrtle was buried in the lucerne field where she loved to play and over the years it became the family grave site.
In 1921 Rigg built the small Norman-style church in her memory. He quarried stone for the church from a hill 100 metres away. The marbled floors were imported from Italy and stained glass windows from England. The dome-shaped roof was made from the river and cement.
The main door was bought in Zanzibar. The door was originally made for a jail and was at the stage believed to be about 300 years old. At the entrance above the main door is a statuette in the likeness of Mary Myrtle and in the background in a rose tree with seven roses, depicting the seven years of life.
It’s the only church in the world that is known to have been built at the request of a child.
WATER CHANNEL SCHEME
Apart from the Breede River, only a few streams provided the area with water. Farming was limited to cattle and goats.
Two farmers from the district saw a possibility of using the river’s water for irrigation and decided to build a canal to get the water to their farms and the town. After about 3km their progress was stopped by the steep Olifantskrans. In 1900 Mr. Dieterlie went bankrupt and they were forced to abandon their scheme. Mr. Ernest De Wet died in 1902.
It was around the same time Christopher Rigg arrived in Bonnievale and he immediately constructed large wooden channels, supported by pillars that would allow the water to flow around the Olifantskrans. The first water reached Bonnievale that same year. It wasn’t all smooth sailing as it leaked and was often clogged from debris causing the channels to collapse.
Rigg used his blasting skills to create a tunnel through the Olifantskrans. Eighty cases of dynamite were used and it nearly bankrupted him. Fortunately a bank in Robertson came to his rescue and the tunnels were completed and the water flowed once again. He still encountered many setbacks. The canals broke from time to time. In 1914 it was decided to use cement for the first time to repair and strengthen the canal. More than a hundred years ago and today the canal serves the east side of Bonnievale and many areas across the west side. Not one pump is used as the whole canal system works on gravity. As a result of the constant water supply the valley has blossomed over the years.
HOW BONNIEVALE WAS BORN
Rigg bought the whole valley and divided the land into 5 acre plots, making development possible. The new Cape Railway was constructed between Robertson and Swellendam and was called “Vale”. Righ also laid his own telephone line. He also requested for the Railways to stop at the siding so that he could load his lucerne, beetroot, maize and vegetable crops.
Soon a town was born. Bonnievale’s first town council was established in 1922 and in 1953 the first municipality was declared.
Rigg laid the foundation for Bonnievale as it is today and named it too. “Happy Valley” was inspired by his birthplace in Scotland.
Christopher Rigg died in November 1926 whilst on a trip overseas and died at sea. The ship apparently did not have cold storage facilities and he was buried at sea, despite his wife offering the captain 5000 pounds to keep his body for burial on land. A tombstone was erected in his honour at the Mary Myrtle Rigg Memorial Church Bonnie Vale.
Back in the early days, Rigg called the Bonnievale valley “the chance of a lifetime”. Bonnievale Wines states that their wines are “the find of a lifetime”. I definitely agree. A portfolio of balanced wines and produced from the very best grapes from what this beautiful valley steeped in history has to offer.
Bonnievale is a true paradise in nature where you can experience something new and beautiful on any level. Just over a two hours drive you are rewarded with a pictureque valley that offers so much and is definitely worth the trip!
Need to get your hands on some Bonnievale Wines? Just visit their online store or contact them directly. Why not join their Bestbox Wine Club for great deals on their latest releases and delivered straight to your door. The best of all is all the wines are super affordable and the qualify of the wines are superb!
Come and enjoy delightful wines and real wine experiences that is truly unpretentious
Tel: 023 616 2795
*A Huge Thank you to Bonnievale Wines and Yolandi De Wet PR for organising the trip and for a memorable time in Bonnievale
Categories: Bonnievale Wines
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