Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Warwick in Wonderland - this Easter weekend at Warwick Wine Estate

Listen to to the full details on our radio interview or scroll down in this blog for the flyer.
Warwick in Wonderland will be fun for the whole family.
Click on this link:

Mike Ratcliffe
Warwick Estate & Vilafonte
P.O.Box 2 Elsenburg, 7607, South Africa


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

All ABOARD! Warwick tasting on the Queen Mary 2

Victor, Sommelier - Britannia Restaurant, Captain Nick Bates & Norma Ratcliffe

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wanna Start a Winery? Get Ready to Sweat

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 at 5:35:29 PM
by Susan Kostrzewa

A friend sent me a YouTube link to a “Make Your Own Video” skit that hilariously tackles the myth and romance of starting one’s own winery and/or becoming a winemaker.

Once I stopped laughing, I started to really think about what it takes to be happy and successful in those endeavors (other than a ton of money in the case of starting a winery, incredible patience and a work ethic of steel). As the video spoofs, it’s not often about glam and glitter, but a serious, grass-roots devotion to creating an agricultural product that speaks of the place in which it’s grown and made. That’s no easy feat.

I turned to some sage voices in the wine business to ask them what kind of advice they would impart to a person seriously interested in pursuing a life as a winery owner or a winemaker. Here’s what they said:

“Winemakers and winery owners must have extreme passion and a huge connection to the wine. It’s a tête-à-tête relationship with a living organism, and like a human, it evolves over time. Through this personal, in-depth relationship, you’ll also get to know yourself better. Approach it artistically and do not cling too much to concrete objectives.” -Jean-Charles Boisset, owner, Boisset Family Estates

“Winery ownership is not easy. Pleasurable sometimes – but not always. Glamorous, maybe – but not as a rule. Winery owners are pretty hard. They like to go camping and sleep on the ground. They like spinach. They love young Cabernet Sauvignon. There is always a little pain to go with the pleasure. “ –Mike Ratcliffe, owner Warwick Wine Estate

“Vino is mother nature’s precious gift but to produce a beautiful wine is only one step in the process. The challenge is to get the fruit of your labor onto the tables of wine lovers across the globe. In a world full of great wine and thousands of labels, the focus is not on the wine you want to make but one that consumers will enjoy. Next, how to bring it to market with great value? Making and sharing wine is romantic but achieving distribution, brand building, marketing, and investing time, resources and finances is decidedly less so. Worth the ride? Yes, by the glassful!” –Cristina Mariani-May, owner, Banfi Vintners and Castello Banfi

“My advice to an aspiring winemaker? Know what you want. Are you interested in Chardonnay, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir or Verdelho? To make volumes of good wine; or small amounts of great wine? Do you want to incorporate both the vineyard and the winery? Go work at a winery doing what you aspire to do. And work overseas, too. To an aspiring winery owner: First, know how to sell the wines you want to make. Find the best site to make them. Focus on vineyards that can produce them. Use your capital carefully. Or, buy a winery that does what you want, and manage it carefully. For most, winery success requires persistance.” -Zelma Long, pioneering California winemaker and winemaker for Vilafonté Winery

“You must really love and be passionate about what you do, otherwise when the hours get long you will start to hate the job. It definitely is not a 9-5 job (more of a 5 -9 and that is on a good day in the harvest). Be prepared to put in many extra hours, not only during the vintage (6-8 weeks of the year) or when one needs to blend and bottle a wine, but when marketing and promoting your wines throughout the rest of the year. The upside of the job: all of the above if you love wine and live and breathe it, as well as the ability to travel for and with your wines. We have met wonderful people and made many friends through the common bond of wine. Wine is beautiful! –Cathy Jordan, Owner, Jordan (Jardin) Wines

What in your mind is the right approach for the aspiring winemaker or winery owner? Is it more grit than glamour, or a romantic ride? under: Connoisseurship, Industry Issues, Opinions and Commentary, Uncategorized, Winemaking

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This Easter, Warwick tumbles down the Rabbit Hole and transforms into a fantastical realm of Wonderland

This Easter, over the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th of April, the acclaimed Stellenbosch winery, Warwick Wine Estate, now supplements their fine wine- and gourmet picnic- offering by incorporating a ‘wonderland’ theme, inviting visitors to peer ‘through the looking glass’ and be immersed in a fantasy world. Free-fall into Warwick in Wonderland where one can make the acquaintance of some of Lewis Carroll’s iconic characters. Join Alice in her adventures, in this psychedelic world… perhaps you will meet some of her contemporaries like the grinning Cheshire Cat or the time-obsessed March Hare who dashes past, announcing that he is ‘late for a very important date’?

Visitors to the estate will also rub shoulders with hero’s in the Warwick star-studded cast: The eccentric Professor Black (Warwick’s Sauvignon Blanc, named after the creator of a hybrid peach variety), Three Cape Ladies (Warwick’s blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and the Cape's unique grape, Pinotage, named after three generations of Ratcliffe women), The First Lady (a Cabernet Sauvignon-driven blend, named after Norma Ratcliffe, this is a wine fit for the White House) and the Black Lady (a stellar Syrah only available at Warwick).

With jungle gyms, a jumping castle, and an Easter egg hunt, children are promised nothing short of a swashbuckling adventure at Warwick in Wonderland! And to put parents’ minds at ease, child-minders will be on duty to ensure children are taken care of. Parents and other guests can venture into the newly-renovated, chic tasting centre and sample wines from Warwick’s award-winning selection, purchasing these at cellar door prices.

The Warwick Gourmet Picnic - partnered with celebrity chef, Bruce Robertson - is a ‘must do’. This culinary offering affords patrons the option of unwrapping and sampling the contents of their picnic boxes at any one of a handful of ‘al fresco’ venues. Groups can book: private ‘Picnic Pods’ flanking the dam, dine in the Parisian-style ‘Courtyard’, or lounge on ‘The Lawns’ at leisure. Take the family or group of friends on a ‘Big 5 Safari’ a through the vineyards to the ‘Penthouse’ which boats a panoramic vista of the farm and surrounds.

Warwick in Wonderland is an opportunity to celebrate the magic of freedom and glory of imagination. This fantastical Easter celebration affords a colourful playground for children while adults can sample the estates acclaimed wines and savour delicious picnic canapés at leisure.


Opening hours:

Open 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Monday to Thursday & Sunday: 09h00 – 17h00.

Friday, Saturday & public holidays: 09h00 until 18h00.


Wine-tasting: R25.00 per tasting (refunded on purchase).

Picnic (serves 2 to 3): R299.00.

Kiddies’ picnic: R49.00.

‘BIG 5’ Wine Safari: R50 per adult. CHILDREN UNDER 12 GO FREE!


Telephone: 021 884 3144

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Warwick 'Professor Black' gets sexy! Great body, lovely legs -gotta love this!

Mike Ratcliffe
Warwick Estate & Vilafonte
P.O.Box 2 Elsenburg, 7607, South Africa


Monday, March 08, 2010

Warwick Wine Estate Crowned Overall Winner at this year's Santam Classic Wine Trophy Awards  

Warwick Wine Estate was named overall winner at the 2010 Santam Classic Wine Trophy Awards held at the recently opened Taj Hotel in Cape Town, on Friday, 5 March.
A panel of international judges praised the Warwick Trilogy, the Estate's cabernet-driven flagship blend, for its handsomeness, elegance and qualitative consistency with each successive vintage. This top honour at the Santam Classic Wine Trophy Awards follows Trilogy's 'Top 100' Wine Spectator listing in 2009 and a thumbs-up 4½ Stars in what is, arguably, the most authoritative local wine guide, Platter's South Africa Wines . Although accolades are synonymous with Trilogy, Managing Director, Mike Ratcliffe was, nevertheless, delighted about this recent scoop, as the winery prides itself on advocating 'quality without compromise' and actively pursues positioning South African wines in a competitive global context. 
The audience was comprised of celebrated wine- and lifestyle- media, members of the trade and representatives from respective wineries. The festive, vibrant, and relaxed ambience allowed for an informal forum, peppered with several impromptu addresses, characterised by charismatic French judges expressing their affection for South African wines! Organiser, Christophe Durand, exuded praise for the outstanding quality of South African wines entered this year and these sentiments were echoed by the editor of French wine publication, La Revue du Vin de France, Oliver Poels, who asserted that South African wines were 'par with the best from France and the world'. 
The Santam Classic Wine Trophy is widely renowned for its credibility and legitimacy. Wines are blind-tasted over four days, cross-tasted, and re-tasted blind after which the short-listed wines are tasted again by all the judges in the 'grand finale'. Throughout these tastings, protocol outlined by the Organisation of Vine and Wine from Paris is rigorously adhered to.

Mike Ratcliffe
Warwick Estate & Vilafonte
P.O.Box 2 Elsenburg, 7607, South Africa


can we get Warwick 'The First Lady' Cabernet Sauvignon into the White House?


Sunday, March 07, 2010

Lights, camera, action! Professor Black in Hollywood's red carpet wines for Oscars

10 wines matched to top nominees in Wine Spectator

Wine Spectator, arguably the world’s leading wine magazine (the benchmark when it comes to authoritative wine ratings), deemed it fitting that they align themselves with the oldest and most prominent award-ceremony in the world, namely, the Oscars.  At this year’s Oscars, Wine Spectator is doing what it does best: rating wines, albeit in a  slightly more light-hearted manner. The panel has selected 10 wines, across 5 categories, each of which  suitably ‘personify’ the nominee, and, by implication, the role he or she plays in the movie. Read the article here.

Warwick was in the limelight on the red carpet this week after receiving an impressive 90 points by Wine Spectator. In addition to this affirmation,  Wine Spectator has nominated Professor Black for Best Actor.  Spotlighted for his supporting role as François Pienaar in the apartheid-rugby-allegory film, Invictus, is the handsome, charismatic and refined Matt Damon. Wine Spectator decided that a bright South African star, Pienaar, immortalized by Damon,  commanded a bright wine with the same stellar constitution. The crisp, tropicality and liveliness -  coupled with a  long floral finish - of Professor Black, made this luscious wine the obvious choice for the Best Supporting Actor role.     

So, wherever you are while watching the star-studded glitterati of the unparalleled-in-stature, celebrity-strewn, glittering, dazzling and extravagant Oscars, following Wine Spectator’s suggestions and hobnobbing with Professor Black will ensure your soiree is chic and that the x-factor is both prevalent and enchantingly enticing.  

Take one! / that’s all folks!

Star-struck in the Winelands

Published by at 8:28 am under News

Mike Ratcliffe as Robert Downey.
AMERICAN magazine Wine Spectator has been having a bit of late by comparing wines to actors. All this with coming Sunday’s Oscar awards in mind. The magazine’s tasting panel has selected ten wines, across five categories, each of which suitably ‘personifies’ the nominee, and, by implication, the role he or she plays in the movie.
 Stellenbosch’s Warwick Wine Estate was in the limelight on the red carpet this week after receiving an impressive 90 points by Wine Spectator, says a media release. “In addition to this affirmation, Wine Spectator has nominated Warwick’s Sauvignon Blanc, Professor Black 2009, for Best Supporting Actor.  
 “Spotlighted for his supporting role as François Pienaar in the apartheid-rugby-allegory film, Invictus, is the handsome, charismatic and refined Matt Damon. Wine Spectator decided that a bright South African star – Pienaar, immortalized by Damon – commanded a bright wine with the same stellar constitution. The crisp, tropicality and liveliness – coupled with a long floral finish – of Professor Black, made this luscious wine the obvious choice for the Best Supporting Actor role.”
 No mention is being made however on rumours of another Hollywood production heading for South African shores, this time to film a script by Michael van Niekerk depicting the rise of the country’s wine industry post 1990. Using the Stellenbosch winelands as a backdrop, the story tells of five wineries’ vision and energy in using South Africa’s liberated status to launch the nations wines internationally. Strong personalities and a few dramatic events make, according to Van Niekerk’s publicist, for a terrific storyline. “No title has been finalise, but we might as well ride on Clint Eastwood’s recent success and call the movie InVino,” the publicist said.
WOSA - Shirley??

Although casting has to be finalized, movie insiders reckon that Mike Ratcliffe, Warwick’s marketing dynamo and industry young-gun who is a character in InVino, is set to be played by either Robert Downey Jr or Ralph Fiennes. Steve Martin is a shoe-in to play colourful restaurateur turned winemaker Ken Forrester, while Shirley MacLaine is keen to take-on the role of Wosa whizz Su Birch.
 So who knows….perhaps the SA wine industry will make it all the way to the red carpet next year.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Trilogy is the overall Trophy wine winner at the Classic Wine Trophy - best red blend!!!

Warwick Wine Estate emerged as the overall winner at this year's Santam Classic Wine Trophy. At the awards dinner, hosted at the Taj Cape Town hotel, the Stellenbosch estate was commended by the panel of French judges for their Warwick 'Trilogy' red blend showing consistent quality and elegance in the competition each year.
Trophies for Best White Wine and Best Red Wine went to the Hoopenberg 'Integer' Chardonnay 2006 and Vriesenhof Pinot Noir 2007 respectively, while Klein Constantia again won the Best Sweet Wine Trophy for their 'Vin de Constance' 2005.
The evening was a festive occasion, with several impromptu speeches and the charismatic French judges expressing their affection for South African wines before an audience of wine media, trade and estate representatives. Organiser Christophe Durand said, “the judges were full praise for the number of superb wines entered this year.” Editor of French wine publication, La Revue du VIN de France, Olivier Poels, spoke of how “the best South African wines are level with the best from France and the world.”
The judges didn't find anything exceptional from the sparkling wine entrants, so no Best Sparkling Wine Trophy was awarded this year. The panel also noted an absence of quality Sauvignon Blanc.
Hoopenberg 'Integer' Chardonnay 2006, Sumaridge Pinot Noir 2008 and Reyneke 'Reserve Red' 2007 where awarded the three GQ Choice Awards, presented by GQ wine editor, Jonathan Steyn. GQ selects three wines each year from amongst the Santam Classic Wine Trophy medal winners with quality, value-for-money and the average consumer in mind.
The Santam Classic Wine Trophy is unique in South Africa that it only awards a set number of medals and trophies each year to ensure legitimacy and credibility for winning wines.

Warwick also wins a return ticket to Paris worth R15000!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Warwick Trilogy wins GOLD again at the Santam Classic Wine Trophy

The Warwick Trilogy 2006 has just been announced as one of the handful of GOLD medal recipients at the 2010 Classic Wine Trophy.
The 12th Santam Classic Wine Trophy took place in the first week of March, 2010. In association with leading French wine publication, La Revue du VIN de France, the competition is unique in two ways: wines are adjudicated by a panel of French judges and a limited number of only 17 medals can be won to ensure legitimacy and credibility for winners. The purpose of the competition is to recognize, reward and promote wines of elegance, balance and finesse. Wines should also show ability to age well. The Classic Wine Trophy is given to the most iconic entry, a wine made with patience and excellence.
La Revue du VIN de France will cover the event and ensure international exposure for the winners, and GQ Magazine SA will also award the GQ Choice Award to three medal- winning wines.
Amongst the panel of French wine personalities this year are Patrick Landanger of prestigious Burgundy producer, Domaine de la Pousse D’Or, as well as Laure Gasparotto, wine journalist and writer for French news magazine, Le Point.
The blind tasting of wines entered took place over four days at Mandela Rhodes Place. Winners and media are invited to an exclusive dinner and awards ceremony held on Friday, 5th March 2010 at the TAJ HOTEL, in Cape Town.