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De Trafford

(Profile by Tom Cannavan -

I think it's fair to say that David Trafford knows the Blaauwklippen Valley better than anyone else. His parents bought the farm, at that time virgin land, in the 70s as retirement project. In this disease-free, clean area protected by the once impassable mountains on either side, they established a rootstock farm - nurseries of disease-free rootstock to supply the wine industry. "But," says David, "cutting little sticks and selling little sticks was very boring so they decided to start making some wine."

The De Trafford farm is at the end of the road leading up through the valley, sitting at around 380 metres above sea level. Between 1984 and 1991 a little wine was made, mostly for the consumption of family and friends. It was in 1991 that quota restrictions affecting the whole of Cape wine production were lifted and the family immediately established a winery and began extensive plantings of red wine grape varieties and Chenin Blanc.

This is a determinedly boutique operation producing only 3,500 cases, and made by a man with a very clear idea of the style of wine this Valley does best. De Trafford's reds are big wines, weighing in with 15-15.5% alcohol on average and big in flavour, concentration and structure. Qualifying originally as an architect, he says "I never chose winemaking as a profession - it was thrust upon me. I live on land with such great vineyard potential that it was impossible not to get involved in the wine business." Indeed, despite the slightly 'blockbuster' nature of these wines, they are impeccably made. Since the start only natural yeasts have been used for fermentation, and the concentration is brought about through dense planting and careful management of the vines.