Simonsig Estate Winery
One of the most reputable estates producing top quality wines
The view from the famous Simonsberg Mountain gives name to Simonsig Estate, our International Wine Club Winery. The estate, located some 30 miles southeast of Cape Town, South Africa traces its roots back to 1688, when French Huguenot Jacques Malan first set foot on the Cape (as it is known in South Africa). Many generations of the Malan Family later, the late Frans Malan became one of the true pioneers of the South African wine industry. He purchased the property that is today’s Simonsig Estate in 1964, and produced the first bottled Simonsig Estate wines in 1968. In 1970, he introduced three European varietals -- Chardonnay, Gewürtztraminer and Wieser-Riesling to South Africa and also introduced the concept of utilizing small French oak barrels to age his wines. Malan also produced South Africa’s first sparkling wine, the famous Kaapse Vonkle, modeled after the great Champagnes of Northern France.
His innovations and desire to produce superior wines have cemented the Simonsig Estate’s legacy in the area locally known as the Cape Winelands. Frans Malan’s sons, Pieter, Francois and Johan carry on their father’s lasting legacy. A grandson, Francois-Jacques is the fourth generation of his family currently working at the winery. Pieter is the administrative and marketing head of the company, while Francois is the viticulturist. Johan is the cellar master and winemaker (see Winemaker Feature) of the more than 72,000 case annual production winery. Simonsig is also the largest privately-held estate in South Africa.
Along the way, Simonsig Estate has captured a bevy of national and international awards for its collection of superior quality wines. Simonsig’s ‘Tiara’ Bordeaux-style bend won Best Estate Blend in the World Wine Championships and the company’s red and white entries won Best South African Red and White category at the Wine and Spirit Championships several years ago. In 2005, the winery took the top Veritas awards with three Double Gold Veritas along with a single Gold Medal. The first Wine Magazine Cap Classique Challenge went to Simonsig’s Kaapse Vonkle in 2003.
Simonsig Estate is a model for many of today’s top South African wine producers. It continues to produce extremely high quality wines that excel in international competitions.
Map of the area
South Africa: Fun Facts!
• South Africa has the oldest wine industry outside of Europe and the Mediterranean.
• The Karoo region in the Western Cape of South Africa is home to some of the best fossils of early dinosaurs. In fact, it is estimated that some 80% of the mammalian fossils found to date were found in the Karoo.
• South Africa is the second largest exporter of fruit in the world.
• South Africa has the longest wine route in the world.
• There are more than 2,000 shipwrecks off the South African coast, most dating back at least 500 years.
• South Africa is extremely rich in mining and minerals. It is considered the world's leader with nearly 90% of all the platinum metals on Earth and the top ranking gold producing country, producing around 41% off all the world's gold.
• Table Mountain in Cape Town is believed to be one of the oldest mountains in the world.
• The world's deepest mine is a gold mine in South Africa, reaching a depth of 11,749 feet. Most mines descend about 3,300 feet.
• Three of the five fastest land animals live in South Africa - the cheetah (63 miles per hour), the wildebeest, and the lion.
• South Africa has the third highest level of biodiversity in the world.
Johan Malan - Winemaker
Johan Malan, one of the three Malan brothers, is the winemaker for his family’s wine estate. An enology graduate of the acclaimed Stellenbosch University, Malan had guided the winemaking efforts of Simonsig Estate for the past 31 vintages. Having grown up on the vineyard that was founded by his father Frans, Malan feels that he knows the potential of every vineyard and that knowledge helps him decide what wine that each batch of grapes will be used.
Malan is a proponent of the ‘Quality originates in the vineyards’ axiom. “The winemaker must have an intimate knowledge and experience with vineyards and soils,” he began. “The winemaker must nurture what nature provides so the wine becomes an extension of the vineyard and reflects its sense of origin and place.”
Johan Malan had been a frequent traveler to most European wine producing countries, while also including California and Australia. He believes that his winemaking has been influenced by the concepts he encountered on his travels. Malan also admits that France’s Côte-Rôtie has inspired his winemaking for a long time. “I enjoy the perfumed elegance of their Shiraz. It has always been a benchmark to aspire to. I also admire the intricacies of Burgundy and its understated elegance,” he added. Johan Malan is also a collector of wines and has entertained other winemakers in his small cellar room that is in the very heart of Simonsig Estate’s larger vault.
Malan credits his father for his accumulated successes, along with his former Professor of Oenology at Stellenbosch University, Joel van Wyk. Johan Malan asserts a firm and classical hand to Simonsig’s established portfolio of wines.
Stellenbosch Region, South Africa
Geographically speaking, the entire growing area is part of the Western Cape Province, the fourth largest of South Africa’s nine provinces. It is L-shaped, and covers an area of around 50,000 square miles, roughly the size of the State of Louisiana. It is bordered by both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and benefits from the varied diversity of waters (the warm Indian Ocean and cold Atlantic Ocean). It also features a Mediterranean-type climate, with cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers, ideal for growing highest quality grapevines. It is always associated with California’s Napa Valley which is possibly the finest growing region in the world.
The City of Stellenbosch is located some 30 miles east of Cape Town and is the home to more than 140 wineries, many endorsed as ultra-premium wineries. Stellenbosch Valley is bounded by several mountains including the Simonsberg Mountains to the southeast. The soils of the area range from dark alluvium to clay and take advantage of the well-drained and hilly terrain.
Along with the Paarl and Franschhoek Valleys, Stellenbosch Valley forms the Cape Winelands, the largest of the South African wine growing regions. No visit to Cape Town, the capital city of the region, is complete without a visit to one or more of the viticultural pockets that ring the City of Stellenbosch, more correctly referred to as the Stellenbosch Wine Route.