News Flash

Graham Beck Wines Robertson Cellar now open on Sundays and the launch of new wine tasting experiences. We’ve got some great news to share! Wine lovers now have the opportunity of visiting the Graham Beck Wines Robertson tasting room on Sundays. This cellar door experience is a highlight on the popular R60 road, 8 km’s outside of Robertson in the direction of Worcester.
The Graham Beck Robertson Cellar Door experience welcomes you on weekdays between 09h00 and 17h00 and on Saturdays and Sundays between 10h00 and 16h00. These times also apply to our Franschhoek tasting room. Apart from the excellent range of award winning wines available for tasting and purchase, our tasting room staff are exceptionally knowledgable, helpful and attentive.

Graham Beck Wines is well known for its innovative architecture and spectacular scenery. In Robertson the natural surroundings of the Klein Karoo with its rich dark soils, lichen covered rocks, vibrant aloes and dusky fynbos is echoed perfectly in the warm, colourful hues of this unmistakable cellar and tasting room. Although quite a departure from the norm, this rather avant garde structure with its sloping green roof, apricot walls and aubergine steel work has now become a well loved local landmark. This summer we are launching three exceptional wine tasting experiences, which will allow visitors to sample our range, learn more about Graham Beck Wines and titillate their taste buds.

The Classic Tasting is complimentary and features five wines selected by the cellar door team to showcase the Graham Beck Premium and Super Premium ranges. The Deluxe Tasting costs R50 per person (the tasting fee is waived on wine purchases per person of R200 or more). This tasting comprises five wines, including a bubbly, selected by the cellar door team. This award winning selection ranges from low yielding single vineyard wines to our fabulous flagship blends.

The Master Class Tasting (R75 per person) is a must for serious wine lovers. Savour a bespoke tasting of selected wines exploring aromas, tastes and textures, using your senses to increase the enjoyment of the fruit of the vine. The six wines will include an award winning Cap Classique and a food pairing. Prepare to discover favourite combinations and scintillating sensory surprises! Booking is required and the Master Class tastings are conducted at 11am daily, currently only available at our Franschhoek cellar door.

For more information on wine tastings and purchases at our Robertson Cellar Door, ring +27 (0)23 626 1214. To book a Master Class tasting, contact the Graham Beck Wines Franschhoek Cellar Door on +27 (0)21 874 1258.

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Neil Pendock writes:

After declaring his run for the White House back in February 2007, Barack Obama took his wife Michelle LaVaughn to their favourite Chicago West Side restaurant Blackbird to celebrate. The tables are so close together “only someone who eats like a bird can squeeze between them” according to foodie website www.gayot.com. To drink with Paul Kahan’s minimally elegant fare (grilled California sturgeon with piquant sauerkraut gnocchi), the sommelier recommended two glasses of Graham Beck Brut NV which the restaurant offers by the glass. The main attraction being that this was the fizz served at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in 1994. An African bubbly for an African-American wannabe president.

Michelle ordered refills on the 4th of November – six bottles of Graham Beck Brut to celebrate the election of the 44th president, popped before the president-elect addressed the world at Grant Park. Graham Beck winemaker Pieter “bubbles” Ferreira denies that “yes we can” is being considered as a neck label for the next release of his benchmark bubbly.

Graham Beck Wines Newsletter
September 2008
Tempus fugit – time flies! With spring just around the corner and the end of the year already in sight (gulp!) there’s seldom time to reflect on milestones, miracles, manic panic and more…We at Graham Beck Wines are a family of over achievers – never satisfied to rest on our laurels.
Armed with a healthy sense of humour and a spirit of adventure, we relish challenge and embrace the future. We invite you to share just a few of our recent highlights.
Screw it – let’s do it!
Graham Beck Wines is continuously on the forefront of technological advances. Our approach to utilizing world class bottle closures is just one example of this foresight. Screw caps are gaining in popularity with wine lovers around the globe.Our new screw cap machine is in a league of its own and a fantastic asset to production. Imported from Italy this top of the range three-head capping machine can handle no less than five different bottle shapes.The first run with this lean, mean new capping machine was completed on 14 April 2008 on the Railroad Red 2006. Among the wines in our range currently under screw cap are: Railroad Red, Waterside Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pheasant’s Run Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Shiraz/ Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay/ Viognier.
Perfectly packaged
The quality in the bottle remains uncontested, but a sleek new makeover makes our packaging more eye catching and appealing than ever. In keeping with our quest to deliver the ‘total package’ our wine labels recently underwent a re-design, with the emphasis on conveying the essence of Graham Beck Wines.To enhance the idea of provenance they reflect an increased focus on authenticity and the promise of excellence. The new designs will enable customers and consumers to easily navigate through the portfolio and distinguish between different tiers. The aim is to introduce a sense of familiarity, while simultaneously enhancing and entrenching the brand.Our ultra-premium tier labels feature a more minimalist approach with outstanding paper stock, clean lines, ample clear space and superb typography. The super premium tier labels are elegant, upmarket and stylish – in keeping with wines that over-deliver dramatically against their competitors. Labels for the premium tier offer increased on-shelf visibility, sporting a more minimalist, yet contemporary and engaging design.
Galloping towards glory
Fine wines and elegant equines are a match made in heaven. At Graham Beck Wines we’re fortunate to celebrate the best of both worlds, as Mr Beck is also a well known stalwart in racing circles. This year one of his horses, Dancer’s Daughter won the annual Vodacom Durban July Handicap, South Africa’s most famous horse race. This thoroughbred horse race is held annually on the first Saturday of July since its inception in 1897 at Greyville Racecourse in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
Femme fatale
Graham Beck Wines’ very own Erika Obermeyer, winemaker at our Franschhoek cellar, walked off with the title of 2008 Woman Winemaker of the Year at a gala function in Stellenbosch in July. Erika, a finalist in this competition for three years running, bagged herself a fantastic prize of a trip to Bordeaux, France. Erika’s winning entry was The Joshua 2006 – our exceptionally elegant Shiraz/Viognier co-fermentation. She also excelled in a grueling interview session with the judges.Hot on the heels of this feat was the news that Erika had bagged top honours at the annual South African National Young Wine Show (SANYWS). This is the third time in four years that Erika has done us proud with this prestigious achievement. The Graham Beck Pheasants’ Run Sauvignon Blanc 2008 received the John McDonald Trophy for the Best Sauvignon Blanc on Show.Erika is passionate about Sauvignon Blanc and this multi-faceted variety’s potential. “With both trophies I want to rejoice in the wonderful world of wine and the magic of the Graham Beck Wines team,” says an ecstatic Erika.
Rave reviews
It appears wine lovers in the Northern Hemisphere have been toasting summer with none other than our 2006 Graham Beck Brut Rosé, which was featured as a favourite on the UK Telegraph’s perennially popular summer wine list. “This fruity and toasty blend of 88% pinot noir and 12% chardonnay from Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira, one of the world’s great sparkling wine makers, is wonderful stuff” raved the review. We can’t help but agree!Demand for all our Graham Beck Cap Classique products has grown with leaps and bounds all over the world, so much so that we have had to allocate available stock to our customers. The 2008 vintage intake has been increased substantially to ensure greater availability going forward, without compromising our quality.
Hot off the press
The vast diversity of our vineyard demographics and distances involved spurred us on to establish a second ‘press house’ at our Franschhoek cellar. This means that we can handle 100% whole bunch pressing in Franschhoek, reducing the time between the picking of the grapes until they are in process by at least 60%. “This is a huge improvement, great for quality and the results are fantastic!” says cellarmaster Pieter Ferreira.Making the finest Cap Classique depends on attaining the purest possible must. “I believe that one of the biggest influences on the final size of the bubble is the way the grapes are handled from picking until in juice form. Once in juice form, we all speak the same language!” comments Pieter.Hitherto, during previous harvests, the cellar in Franschhoek only started up in the first week of February. We now have the last two weeks of January (which happen to be the peak period for Cap Classique harvest), to utilize our cellar in Franschhoek for base wine pressing and preparation. We can handle Chardonnay and Pinot Noir whole bunched in Franschhoek. This takes the pressure off the team in Robertson and the results are more time (if there is such a thing these days!) for attention to detail and more refined base wines for our Cap Classiques.At Graham Beck Wines we understand that quality is a continuous journey. What we can improve on today and be better at tomorrow is a step in the right direction!Until next time,Warmest wine regardsThe Graham Beck Wines team

Harvest Report 2008
Gearing up for glory
Harvest 2008 will surely be GRAPE! This was the optimistic logo on the Graham Beck Wines harvesting teams’ T-shirts this year – a prediction which happily proved true. For all those involved during harvest time at Graham Beck this is always a period marked by intense activity, heightened adrenaline levels, no shortage of stress, but also unequalled joy, pride and excited anticipation. Each year brings new challenges, surprising discoveries, fresh innovations and renewed enthusiasm and determination. In short…it’s all GO, but it’s all GOOD!
This year saw the last of the grapes being received on Thursday 3rd April 2008 at 14h20 in Robertson. This heralded the end of one of the longest harvests at Graham Beck Wines. Having started on 16th January, this makes a total of 79 exhausting days from start to finish. The cellar received no less than 1 555 separate grape loads during this period both at our Franschhoek and Robertson cellars.
The total amount of grapes welcomed into the Franschhoek cellar was 1 281 tons, while Robertson greeted a total of 2 725 tons. This makes a grand total of 4007 tons – an increase of 15% to what was handled in Harvest 2007. The reason behind the increase is that our new Sauvignon Blanc plantings have come into production for the first time on our Firgrove properties, while new plantings of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay have delivered on our Robertson estate.
“This has been a challenging harvest,” admits Pieter Ferreira, Graham Beck Wines cellarmaster. “I am extremely proud of the way we tackled this vintage,” says a chuffed Pieter. He doffs his hat to the teams involved at Franschhoek, Robertson, Firgrove and our grape partners from the outside. “This includes the pickers, the tractor drivers, our transporters, our winemakers and their teams in the cellars, our accountants signing the cheques and many, many more. In fact too many to mention! You have all been stars,” praises Pieter.
“Although there is always some degree of apprehension surrounding this crucial ‘make or break’ time, we at Graham Beck Wines have done a marvelous job in bringing in healthy grapes to our cellar,” comments Irene Waller, Graham Beck Wines Robertson winemaker. “We are eagerly taking stock of these superb wines in the making on their journey towards reaching their full potential. It might be early days yet, but they are already exhibiting great fruit and lots of finesse and elegance,” she says enthusiastically. “Please take time to visit us, we’ll be more than happy to share our thrilled anticipation with you,” adds Graham Beck Wines Franschhoek winemaker, Erika Obermeyer.
Although the cellars are always a hive of activity over harvest and there’s never a veritable dull moment, much of this ‘perspiration’ is due to meticulous ‘preparation’. This is where the fundamentally important foundations laid by the viticultural teams form an integral part of our success. Conditions for Harvest 2008 proved extremely favourable.
“We experienced good winter rains, enough winter cold and good budburst with late cultivars like Sauvignon Blanc while our Cabernet Sauvignon proved a tad uneven,” remarks Graham Beck Wines viticulturist Marco Ventrella. A wet and vigorous spring with continued rains in the growing season saw the establishment of large canopies and vigorous vines early in the season.
Mother Nature, as always, made sure we never became complacent, sending one or two climatic consternations our way to keep us on our toes! Wind played a significant role this year, punishing a few vineyards on exposed outcrops. In Stellenbosch, however, the wind provided an opportunity to counter the vigour of the rains as steady ‘Cape Doctor’ southeaster winds acted as a vigour regulating stress factor as well as drying the soils quickly, allowing for near perfect levels of water stress by January.
Harvest kicked off 10 days late in Robertson, starting with our base wines and proceeding without a hitch. “I really believe that 2008 will be a great base wine vintage for our Robertson estate,” says Pieter. The Chardonnay intake was as gratifying, with extremely good quality and healthy grapes that were among the first to ripen and show complex flavours at lower sugars.
In the coastal area it was a fantastic Sauvignon Blanc year, which may just rival the legendary 2007 vintage as best in the decade. Cool growing conditions and good rains saw Darling and Durbanville dryland Sauvignon develop beautifully with powerful concentration, good balance and great structure. These conditions also bode well for a good red vintage in these areas too.
In our Stellenbosch vineyards the ‘Cape Doctor’ kept us healthy and ensured vigour was under control. The Sauvignon Blanc grapes were the best our winemakers have ever seen in Stellenbosch and the reds are sure to be block buster winners. A larger crop necessitated careful work with green harvesting and meticulous monitoring of soil moistures. Slow sugar accumulation across the board for the reds resulted in longer hang times and will, most likely, yield softer, rounder phenols and more supple structure this year.
Our picks for 2008 include: Robertson’s Cap Classique, the Sauvignon Blanc from the Coastal region (particularly Darling, Durbanville and Stellenbosch), Chardonnay from Robertson, Chenin Blanc from Agter Paarl, Shiraz from Robertson and Stellenbosch and Cabernet Sauvignon from Stellenbosch.
“We are immensely excited to be working with Chenin Blanc for the first time in Franschhoek,” says Erika. “We have managed to source some of the very best vineyard blocks of Chenin Blanc,” she says. They are all bush vine and dry land vineyards with an average age of 36 years. The flavours are awesome and we look forward to introducing this Chenin Blanc later in the year.
In general – a sterling effort, fantastic co-operation, unparalleled attention to detail, unbelievable commitment and the promise of untold rewards…a harvest for the history books!