Jon and Ingrid Tonkin had been coming to Plettenberg Bay on holiday for over 30 years. So when they decided to relocate from Johannesburg it was inevitable they would choose Plett as their new permanent home.
They brought with them a passion and an energy to pursue new challenges and explore opportunities that fell outside their comfort level, honed by years of city life. In particular, it brought an opportunity to pursue a long-cherished dream – a dream to become wine farmers. In anticipation of their move, they began to look for a suitable farm property. Ingrid and Jon were attracted to the Redford area of the Crags for a number of reasons.
The area was already home to some of the best vineyards in the newly established Plettenberg Bay wine of origin district. It also has similar geographic and climatic characteristics to those of the famed Marlborough area of New Zealand, known in particular for its sauvignon blanc, pinot noir and sparkling wine. Above all it is an area of considerable natural beauty.
Ingrid and Jon managed to find a beautiful, fynbos –covered property nestling in the foothills of the Tsitsikama Mountains at an elevation of 250 metres, close enough to the Indian Ocean to feel the cooling influence of its sea breezes. An added attraction was that steps had been taken to establish a small vineyard on the property with three varieties, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and pinot noir, although it had been abandoned and, with the rest of the farm, had been sorely neglected.
Despite this, it was perfect. They bought the farm and named it Lodestone. They chose this name because it conveyed the wonderful feeling that the farm exuded and extraordinary sense of attraction that drew them to it. From the day they arrived in mid-June 2012, Ingrid and Jon have put their hearts and souls into turning Lodestone into something special. That work is by no means complete but enough has been done and achieved since then to suggest that the vision will become a reality.
A new vineyard is currently being established which will include more sauvignon blanc as well as Semillon and a Rhone-style pinot noir suitable for still wine rather than just bubbly. At the same time an olive orchard has been planted, using in the main olive trees transplanted and relocated from Elgin. Alongside the new vineyard are plantings of honeybush tea and king proteas, all within a natural fynbos environment.
Lodestone has bottled sauvignon blanc and chardonnay which were released in October at the Plett Wine and Bubbly Festival. These have been vinified by local cellar master Anton Smal.These wines represent the first step for Lodestone in a series of steps that will see Lodestone establish itself as a producer of the premium quality wines and olive oil. The product range will be expanded next year to include a Methode Cap Classique bubbly and a dry rosé.
Good news from Lodestone is that their tasting facility is now officially open and ready to welcome visitors to taste their range of wines and acclaimed olive oil. Lodestone has built a modern yet casual tasting room incorporating a contemporary kitchen from which they serve a range of summer meals, light and fresh, using whatever is locally available whenever they can.
The tasting room at Lodestone forms part of The Crags Wine & Bubbly Route which comprises 5 estates in all, in close proximity to one another, which can each provide a memorable tasting experience to visitors.
Lodestone’s tasting room is open from 11h00 until 16h00 Tuesdays to Sundays.
Bookings can be made by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or telephoning 044 534 8015 or 082 600 7835 (Jon).