Iona Vinyards – Dry Dock Liquor

Iona Vinyards

One would have to visit the property in order to fully understand what has made Iona’s wines paradigmatic of 'Cool Climate'. In the South African context, the oldest of 'New World Wine’ regions, Iona’s 25 year history would certainly characterise it as a ‘new kid on the block’ - yet the quality and global recognition has certainly cemented the wines as iconic, and this is entirely due to the farm’s unique terroir. Iona is the coolest vineyard site in South Africa. Situated on a mountain plateau perched precariously on the lip of an escarpment 3km from the sea, Iona’s cellar is the highest and closest to the ocean of the celebrated cool-climate Elgin wine farms.
To get to Iona one drives through the picturesque Elgin Valley with rolling hills, that at times is reminiscent of ‘The Shire’ out of Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’, using the heading of the frigid Atlantic as a guide stone. Upon arrival at the base of the land wall dividing the ocean from the valley and at the start of Koegelberg Nature Reserve one takes the path less travelled and begins to climb. A fair few folk turn back at this point as one would be forgiven to think there couldn’t possibly be a wine farm on top of a mountain, but a visual reward awaits those that traverse the dirt road to the top - the north side of the property over looks the Elgin Valley and the southerly side falls off into the sea. Atop Iona’s plateau there is a world in motion owing to an ever present wind which, in summer afternoons, brings with it a table cloth fog bank coalescing to life in its' climb from the Atlantic. Where the wind takes physical form it seemingly elates in its’ brief material existence on Iona by frolicking in vortices around vines only to dissapate in a cascading avalanche onto the Elgin valley. The combination of shelter from the African summer sun and the cold Antarctic katabatics making landfall result in Iona’s growing season being up to 2 months longer than other regions. A long-distant echo of this energy-in-motion atmospheric estuary can be found where Iona’s roots run deep in making their home - the soil. Two-Hundred million years past, thousand meter ice-walls marched implacably over the distant memory of a more ancient clay riverbed. Where these colossal glaciers went with them they pulled volcanic rocks the size of houses; ripped up, ground, crushed and conglomerated into the post-glacial-alluvial soils that can only be found on the summits of the Cape’s mountain bergs - beneath which a clay underlay awaits any adventurous vine's roots.
For two decades, owner Andrew Gunn and winemaker Werner Muller, have endeavoured to encapsulate the essence of this property through non-interventionist winemaking and allowing the grapes to tell their life’s story in the glass. From blossom, to bud, to berry, to bottle the grapes are nurtured and shepherded by a share-holding employee base who at-times could be mistaken for taking care of a family member in their stewardship of this site-specific legacy. Terroir could be defined as 'a sense of a place'; keeping with the philosophy of terroir driven wine making, and being in the privileged position as curator of this corner of the earth where the vines are farmed and vinified on the property, Andrew decided in 2017 to bring Burgundy’s concept of ‘Single Vineyard Wines’ for the first time to Iona’s elevated oenophile oasis. Three sites where identified as exemplifying the parental essence of Iona’s Elgin Highlands Chardonnay and Pinot Noir - Fynbos, Kloof and Kroon.
Only a handful of bottles are made of the Iona Single Vineyard wines each year with the current vintage being 2017. The wines are only available on allocation and in mixed cases of six; Iona Chardonnay, Fynbos Chardonnay, Kloof Chardonnay, Kroon Pinot Noir, Kloof Pinot Noir and Iona Pinot Noir. The bottles are carefully wrapped and packed in wooden straw lined boxes to ensure safe storage and assist with climate/temperature management.
To call something special is to quantify its’ uniqueness. Iona’s Single Vineyards are a celebration of the component parts that make the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir - Unique."