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Kanonkop

Kanonkop is “where the big guns roar”! Their story began in 1903 when J.W. Sauer, and eminent politician and government minster in the cabinet of South Africa, purchased the Uitkyk farm in Stellenbosch. After his death his widow Mary sold the farm, and an uncultivated piece of land on the lower slopes of the Simonsberg mountain was left to her only son Paul, who also became a politician and was a member of the South African parliament for over 40 years. It was Paul Sauer who planted vines and established the wine farm in 1929, and also went to great lengths to promote South African wine. His name is recognised as one of the leading lights in the country's wine industry. The name Kanonkop means “Canon Hill”, and is derived from the eponymous hill (kop) on the Simonsberg mountain above the estate where the vineyards are planted. This is where in the 17th and 18th centuries a canon (kanon) was fired to alert farmers in the rural areas that trade ships were arriving in Table Bay; it was never fired in anger. Paul Sauer came up with the name and in 1973 the first wines under the Kanonkop label were produced. Following Paul's death in 1976 the estate passed to his daughter Mary and her husband Jannie Krige, and in time their sons Paul and Johann Krige. They are the current owners, 4th generation great grandsons of the founder. When the younger brother Paul came to work on the farm in 1984 they were delivering 80% of their wine in bulk to the local co-operative Stellenbosch Farmers Winery (SFW), and the future of the estate was uncertain. Johann, the older brother was a law graduate, and he called a meeting with his parents and the then winemaker Beyers Truter (who later became known as “The Prince of Pinotage”) and told them they needed to focus. They were growing an eclectic mix of grapes and were trying to be everything to everybody – but that was going to change, and how! Johann saw that their site was particularly suited to Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon and persuaded the family to break the umbilical ties with SFW which was still purchasing practically all Kanonkop's production. Kanonkop transferred cultivation to red grapes, planning all their vineyards ahead with the advice of specialists in various agricultural fields. Today 95 hectares are under vine at an altitude of between 180 and 365 metres above sea level, planted with 50% Pinotage, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7.5% Cabernet Franc and 7.5% Merlot, on a mix of fabulous ancient decomposed granite and clay soils. Abrie Beeslaar, one of the most talented winemakers in the Cape, became Beyers Truter's wingman in 2002 and took over the reins the following year. The award-wining wines are crafted with meticulous attention to detail, and are internationally renowned. Kanonkop are one of South Africa's legendary wine estates, famous for their Pinotage, but their Bordeaux blend wines are equally impressive. The Paul Sauer Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc blend is their flagship wine. It is one of the country's most prestigious wines and the 2015 vintage is the first South African wine to be awarded a perfect 100 score in the Tim Atkin MW's South African report, and Kanonkop are justifiably considered to be the South African equivalent of a First Growth. The fifth generation of the family is waiting in the wings, with Johann's daughters Helene and Marcia, and Paul's son Sauer and daughter Susaan – the big guns are set to keep roaring!