Tasting Vines at the Vineyard
Experience 3.0 Franschhoek Wine 4.0

Tasting Vines at the Vineyard

Monday 20 February 2017

Experience: 3/5
Wines: 4/5

The last of the sun’s rays were doing their best to give a little warmth on the lawn at the back of the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands in the Southern Suburbs, Cape Town. The wind had at least died down. I had known for a while that the Vineyard Hotel offered wine-tastings on a Monday evening from 6-7pm. Somehow, life had got in the way and it was not until today that I was able to go.


It was easy to see where the tasting was on the lawn facing the Eastern Slopes of Table Mountain. There was a tight gaggle of people gathered around a small table and spilling out onto the surrounding lawn. The wines tonight were from Stony Brook Vineyards, a small family-run farm located in the Southernmost end of the Franschhoek Valley.

Five wines were available for tasting: two white and three red. A glance at the Platter’s Guide makes interesting reading. Tasting is by appointment only. The estate is relatively small with just 14 hectares under vine and grows twice as many red as white grapes. Nonetheless, it produces 20 different wines across all the styles from MCC to dessert. These are highly-rated. All but one of the assessed wines have been awarded a Platter 4-star rating or higher.


It wasn’t an easy or a relaxed environment to taste. I had sympathy for the one, patient server from the estate who was trying both to serve and explain the different wines. I much preferred the second white I tasted: the Ghost Gum White. This was an interesting blend of Chardonnay and Sémillon aged in 50% new oak. The deep yellow colour showed the oakiness even before taking in the nose. It was bold and creamy on the palate and layered with citrus and honey. I would have bought a bottle had it been for sale. The Sauvignon Blanc that I tasted beforehand was personable but didn’t hit quite the spot. I have tasted better elsewhere.


The red wines were a classic selection: a Rhone Blend, a Bordeaux Blend and a Cabernet Sauvignon single variety wine. The Shiraz/Mouvèdre/Viognier blend was cherry red in colour and red-berry fruity on the nose. The mouth feel was too coarse for my liking with sharp tannins showing through from the 28 months spent maturing in oak barrels. This wine will likely improve with age.

The Max, named after the farm Jack Russell, was a classic Bordeaux blend. Made from 4 different grape varieties, it also has been aged for 28 months but in a mix of 50% new fill and 50% second-fill French barriques. It was an improvement on the SMV and I liked the blackcurrant fruitiness. It has been made for ageing and this shows.


My favourite was the final red, the Ghost Gum Red. Incidentally, the name comes from the 150 year-old Ghost Gum tree that is visible from the farm’s tasting area. This flagship Cabernet Sauvignon is made from heavily-pruned bunches to concentrate flavour. It was deep, intense ruby in colour that heralded a rich dark cherry and blackberry nose accompanied by a complex, balanced and lengthy finish. Though aged for 32 months in new French barriques, the tannin seemed less astringent. This too will age and is a wine I would readily buy as an investment to drink in 10-15 years. Meanwhile, this was a wine to be drunk with hearty roast lamb or an Indian curry rather than alone.


The sun faded and I left. The wines were much better than the tasting experience that was a disappointment for a venue of such high standing as the Vineyard Hotel. There were simply too many people chasing too few wines in quick succession for an enthusiast to savour.

I shall be making an appointment to taste the wider range of Stony Brook wines in more peaceful surrounds in the not too distant future.

Wines tasted (bought *):


2016 Sauvignon Blanc – R80
2015 Ghost Gum White (56% Chardonnay, 44% Sémillon) – R125


2014 SMV (Shiraz, Mouvèdre, Viognier) – R120
2013 The Max (46% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Malbec, 7% Petit Verdot) – R135
2013 Ghost Gum Cabernet Sauvignon – R290 FAVOURITE WINE


You Might Also Like

Magical Wines Star at Dragonridge

Boutique de Brendel

More Plaisir at de Merle Please!

Sip Sip Sip and Drip Drip Drip at Domaine des Dieux

Morgenhof in the Morning

Wines to Love on Love Street

Sax ‘n’ Berg at the Vineyard

Serenity without Worry or Preoccupation in the Chapel

Wine on the Slopes at Chamonix

A Kleine Experience at Zalze

Value for Money at Van Zylshof

Slave to the Rhythm at Solms-Delta

Excelsior Blends Quality with Price

Mulderbosch didn’t quite Meet the Yardstick

Lust-ful Reds in the Vineyard

Class in Glass at Glenelly

Family Fun at the Greek Harvest Festival

Dornier Disappoints

Being Creative at Flagstone

Masses of Fun and a little Chaos at the Ambeloui Harvest Festival

Rain Meets Earth at Newton Johnson

Franschhoek’s Hidden Gem Is Reluctant to Reveal

Beau-tiful Beau-tique Beau-Constantia

The Phoenix Rises from the Terroir at Thelema

The Darling from Darling Steps into the Vineyard

Baby Thrown Out with the Bath Water?

Well Hosted and Enjoyable – Even Though I did not Experience at its Best

Fun(ny) Times at Lourensford

All Green at Villiera

Le Lude Left Me Feeling Flat

Waxing Lyrical about Canto

Iconic Steenberg

Linga-ring in a Winery in Malawi

Wonderful Grapes at the Vineyard Hotel

Peace but No Rest for Rust en Vrede

Where’s the Grande in Provence?

Seven Reasons To Visit Seven Oaks Wines

Elegant Wines Kiss the Lips in the Vineyard

Red Chair in the Morning

On Yonder Hill There Stands a Vineyard!

Value for Money from Angel Gabriel in the Vineyard

Cabsolutely Frankulous at the Carnival

No Blues at Hillcrest

More-ish Wines at Môreson

It’s all Art and Wine at Almenkerk

PicknPay Pairs it again at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Never too Early in the Morning for Wine Tasting!

Waterf-ord More Ord-inary Than Extra-ord-inary

Langverwacht Introduced Me to Ruby Cabernet

The Gods Come Home to the Vineyard

Late at Lateganskop

Kosie Wynes at Groenland

Bushmanspad Gave Me the Weirdest Tasting Ever

A Family Occasion – the Story behind the Bottle

Maiden Visit to Lord’s Bowled Me Over

No Black Marks at Raka

Bellville to Bellevue to Belle Wines

Wine Notes Composed at D’Aria

Iona Wines Remain Excellent In and At the Vineyard

Trading Wines in the City Bowl

Posh Spice in Franschhoek!

Hazendal Fit for a Tsar, a Hare and a God of Wine

View from the E-Skaap-ment

Wine Dinners are Not For Me

The Garagiste in the Garage at Sonklip!

Old Oaks at La Bourgogne

Vista to Verdot at Glen Carlou

Better than a Fair View Where the Goats do Roam!

Wacky – not Tacky – in Robertson

Next Time to Taste at Hannay

How Do You Grow a Vineyard Like Maria?

Groot Phesantekraal an Unexpected Surprise!

Leaping to the Right Conclusions

Vrede en Lust Struggled to Reveal it’s Delight

K-eynote W-ines at the V-ineyard

Sweet and Safe Times Pair Well with the Whales

Joy at Really Tasting the Difference at Esona

Heaven Meets Earth at Bouchard Finlayson

The Big Easy Tee’s Off in the Vineyard

Very Cape Wines at Capaia

Windfall Offered Unexpected Delights

Oh-MG at Anthonij Rupert

Quantity over Quality at Durbanville Hills

Relaxing Rosendal

Sugar and Spice is Twice as Nice

“Swimming Pool” Wines for Now – or Leave until Later

Good Things Come in Twos – at Southern Right too!

Blaauwklippen was Good for a Friday

In the Garage in the Heart of McGregor

More than Just a Destination

All is Not Lost in a Safe Port

Neil’s Vines on the Tr-Ellis in Stellenbosch

Peter Falke Didn’t Knock my Socks Off

Individual Quality at Jordan

Dreaming of a Wine Christmas

Malverne Dis-Clos-ed

Hope Lies High in the Valley

Quality Abounds on the Mound at La Motte

Ghostly Clouds Swirl at Spookfontein

A Myth, a Princess, History and Destruction, 2 Names and 4 Styles – Shiraz with Pizzazz

At the Bend in the Road in Bot River

Barrels of Fun at My First Stellenbosch Street Soirée

Tram-Way to Heaven in Franschhoek

Becoming Ship-Shape at La Couronne

Robertson – Town by Name, Wine by Name

More Still at Tanagra

From the Angel Gabriel to the Arch Angel

Surprisingly Good – and Not Only for the Red Bus Tourists

Where the Lions Roar in the Wild West of Bot Rivier


Great Value in the Swartland

Nala Wines are Well Engineered in the Vineyard

The Vineyard Hotel a Classic Vehicle to Showcase L’Ormarins Wines

Bon Courage and Bon Voyage

Pastures Anew at Rustenberg

Grape Expectations are Met at Zevenwacht

Wines That Don’t Cost The Earth

Rijk Tulbagh Gives Name to Cellar and Town

Haven Rather than Heaven at La Bri

Intriguing and Confusing – An Enigmatic Experience

House Wine from the Wine Tram

In the Highlands in the Lowlands of Elgin

Allez les Boks – Pas les Bleues!

It’s High Time Again

Simple Spier

Noble Wines without the Rot

Saxenburg Puts Heart, Mind and Soul into Its Wines

Colmant Sparkled

Beyond Expectation

British Reserve and Excellence at Sumaridge

Grand Wines at the Big Top!

Cabernet Franc – Well Worth a Gamble!

Multi-Faceted Wines on Display at the Vineyard

Shiraz Purrs at Manley Wine Lodge

My Best Blend at Zandvliet

Swallowing Fine Wines at Paserene

Wines Out of the Barrel at Kanonkop

Rickety Tram Passengers at Rickety Bridge

In the Vineyard with Beyerskloof

I Needed to be Guided by the Angel Gabriel

Rustic Charm at the Altydgedacht Wine Farm


Straw Berry Yields for e-Ver-gelegen

Four Partners (not Cousins) at the Vineyard Hotel

Rivergold is a Gem Waiting to be Discovered

Libby Would not have been Proud of Linton Park

Onderkloof Beats All the Odds Below The Valley

Verticle Tasting on the Ridge in Elgin

Only One JC Le Roux Wine Sparkled and Scintilla-ted

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *