The sun settles over the fynbos valley in early morning, creating a striking scene. The last few clusters of sun ripened green grapes cling to the vines, a treat to the birds more than the winemakers. Sound like Franshoek or Stellenbosch? Think again. This is the Garden Route’s Plettenberg Bay, home to some of South Africa’s newest vines and most creative winemakers.
Ribbons of fence wind through the 11 hectare property of Redford Lane Wines, located in the Crags – a mere 15 minutes from the warm Indian Ocean, the cool Tsitsikamma forests and the town centre of Plettenberg Bay. Graceful, retired racehorses fill the gaps in the landscape between the pine forests at the base of the Crags mountain range with sweeping views, and a rustic and rested tasting room.
Redford is as distinct as its owner’s tastes. Some reside in plush, modern settings with dozens of employees, while this special vineyard is so small you meet the proprietors at the tasting room, welcoming first-timers and sophisticates alike, this little vineyard is as hospitable as they come.
Owner and manager Leanne Lane is a rare gem in this industry, a self-confessed “horsey girl”, she encourages visitors to experience Redford Lane as an extended family member; to ask questions, make themselves at home and enjoy the nuances of her wine. Says Leanne, `I love the whole process. I love that people enjoy the end result of what I do. Growing the vines, encouraging and looking after the grapes, taking them to the cellar – I love it all. An entire year’s work in a bottle, it gives me huge satisfaction and a great sense of pride. I see it as an extension of who I am and I want to share it with my family, friends and guests.”
The set-up is an extension of Leanne herself. The tasting room is rustic with hand-crafted wooden furniture, a wrap-around verandah with views of mountain, forest and fields of fynbos and flora. The retired racing horses from the Elliodor lin-eage make a striking contrast to the beautiful green vines and the flourishing pine trees. It’s a small farm with one hectare of vines for Sauvignon and an additional two new hectares for a red variety they are cultivating which includes Nebbilio and Barbera grapes.
Wine farming was an interesting choice for Leanne who at the time was involved in breeding winning race horses. She bought the farm as a single woman in 2006 at a time when only one wine farm was established in the area, the acclaimed Bramon Estate. After meeting her future husband Brendan, they decided to plant their first vines in 2008. The tasting room went up in 2014, with the guidance of Bramon’s Cellar Master, Anton Smal. He has assisted in guiding Leanne and Brendan to find their own identity in the industry.
If you look carefully on the walls of the tasting room, you will find a similarity between the wine labels and the artwork on the walls. The artwork is that of their young daughter Abigail. A bold move in an industry often obsessed with strategic brand strategies.
The vibe is country, down to the two dams on the farm which are stocked with Large Mouth bass. Visitors are encouraged to try their hand at the rod. You can bring your own or try one of theirs on hand if needed. If you’re lucky you may catch a glimpse of Broken Wing, the resident Hadeda who has been part of the Lane family since the purchase of the property. He and his family of lovers and children nest close to the tasting room and often calls to Leanne when her dogs are meddling with the babies, thanking her later with his distinctive cry.
The tasting room menu sings a South African song, a fine accompaniment to their crisp wines. You may find favourites such as biltong pate, chicken kebabs, country style wors, coleslaw, potato salad, locally made country cheeses, biltong rolls and home-grown lettuces, herbs and vegetable compliments. It’s a great place to sit back, enjoy a cool breeze and soak in the country feeling while sampling lovely wines and tasty local fare.
Don’t be surprised to find bird watchers amongst Redford guests. You might even find yourself sitting with cycling guests from the farm’s cycling trail, guests en route on horseback from Hog Hollow Horse Trails or entire families enjoying a day on the farm. Here you will also find Leanne; enjoying a quick chat with a new friend, having a high-five with a neighbor cyclist or behind the wine-tasting bar cracking a joke and sharing one of her fine wines.
CemAir asked Leanne what wine she likes to drink: “I love my own White Blend and Brendan drinks our Red Blend, a special wine influenced by Chocoholic, a spicy Pinotage also made in South Africa. We love our own wines, we’ve made them to our liking and seriously enjoy how easy they are to drink.”
Get in touch with Leanne on +27 (0)83 708 0735, leanne@redfordlanewines. co.za or visit Redford Lane Wines online at redfordlanewines.co.za
This article appears in the CEMAIR inflight magazine April / May 2015 edition.
Redford Lane Wines:
- Sparkling Rosé a unique • end o Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinotage and Pinot Meunier. With fruit and rose aromas and soft delicate bubbles, this a sparkling wine to enjoy on any happy occasion!
- Sauvignon Blanc 2014 a wonderful, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc with tropi-cal notes and floral aromas. Perfect for the beach and lazy summer lunches. White Blend chosen by Anton Smal, special for Redford Lane. A uniquely fruity blend guaranteed to tingle the taste buds!
- Red Blend also chosen by Anton Smal, special for Redford Lane. Con-sisting of Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbil-io, Sangoviese and Barbera. Matured in a mix of American and French oak, then blended. A full bodied wine with delicious aromas.