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  • Jennifer Tritle Oitzman

Western Cape, South Africa; Day 1

Updated: Feb 16, 2021

Hi my name is Jennifer Tritle, and in August of 2019 I had the opportunity to travel to the Western Cape of South Africa to visit and learn about several different wine regions and the culture of the area. Our group visited wineries that Jesse Balsimo from Truvino imports into the United States, primarily into the Midwest. On the trip with me was Emily from Libation Project out of Minneapolis and 3 of her retail accounts; Josh Timmerman of France 66, Daniel from Southside Liquor, and Tessa and Nelson Leung from Marrow in Rochester. Below you will find information and many pictures of each region we visited and a little on our side adventures!

Day 1: Elgin Valley; Spioenkop and Oak Valley Estate

Our first day we visited the coldest wine region in South Africa, Elgin Valley, in the Overberg region. It was a brisk morning and a perfect introduction to the South African winter! The wine region of Elgin Valley was founded in 1856. The area was a swamp surrounded by mountains many years ago. It is now home to apple production (90% of the local crop and 60% of the country's crop comes from this area) and is earning its stripes as a premier region producing wines of elegance and nesse. This / Entrance to the winery. Koen Roose - Owner and winemaker. Spioenkop tasting line-up. Damn built on property. View from winery over valley. Winery dogs! A Pitbull, Rhodesian Ridgeback and Jack Russel guard the property. unique area is surrounded by the low-lying ancient sandstone Hottentots Holland mountains in a bowl-shaped structure lending fog and cloud cover for the vineyards.


Spioenkop - "Spy Mountain" is the pride and joy of Koen Roose, a Belgian importer that fell in love with South Africa. All of the wines produced here are organic and vegan. Koen was the rst grower to plant Pinotage in this region. Pinotage usually likes warm climates so the neighbors thought Koen was a little crazy! Now, his Pinotage is one of his flagship wines. It truly stands out from other wines made of the same varietal in other regions. Koen has an affinity for history and many of his wines and vineyards are named after people that have politically influenced South Africa. Okoboji Wines currently carries the Spioenkop 1900 Pinot Noir

Oak Valley Estate

This 5th generation Estate was established in 1898 by Sir Antonie Vijoen, a medical doctor who graduated from Edinburgh University in Scotland. He became a Senator in Cape Parliament and was instrumental in many ways. He was knighted by King George in 1916 for his efforts to reconcile the Boers and Brits after the bitter Boer War. As a farmer, he established the first commercial apple orchard in the Elgin Valley and that industry is a backbone of the economy of the area still today. Oak / Oak Valley Estate view Fountain of Youth vineyards. Blue Crane- the South African national bird. Picture taken from property. Valley Estate is known primarily for their apples and pears, green-house cut owners and for its cool climate wines. The 1900 hectare property hosts several biking events as they are home to some of the best trails in the world. The annual ABSA Cape Epic race is held here and the trails are open year round. Okoboji Wines currently carries the following wines from Oak Valley Estates Oak Valley Chardonnay "Beneath the Clouds", Oak Valley Pinot Noir "Sounds of Silence", and Oak Valley Groenland Chardonnay.

We even got to partake in a Segway tour group where we were lead around the 1900 hectare property by a guide and visited the piggery, herded cattle and visited a 100 year old tree, all while trying to not fall off!

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