Graceland, owned by Susan and Paul McNaughton, is a family run boutique winery, specialising in red wine. Susan, the driving force behind the winery, takes on the roles of marketer, winemaker and viticulturist whilst Paul attends to the farm’s administration and financial needs. During harvest, everyone lends a hand, even the children and dogs. The Graceland wine making philosophy starts in the vineyard where no insecticides are used and minimal spraying.
An intense wine, packed with fruit. A seamless blend, showing all varietals in layers. Cherries, strawberries and savoury notes on the nose and palate. The cooler style Shiraz is not prominent at all, making for a seamless blend reminiscent of Bordeaux.
Blackberries wrapped in dark chocolate are abundant in this most elegant and stylish Cabernet, with superior fruit expression and structured tannins. A well-defined, European style Cabernet, from the best area in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Intense colour and long finish bookend this exceptional wine.
The nose is dominated by aromas of plums and blackberries with a subtle hint of caramel and mocha. Elegant in the mouth with soft tannins. The taste is dominated by the flavors of plums, blackberries, cranberries and black currants.
This is reminiscent of cooler European style Syrah, with white pepper, abundant raspberries thus making for a good food match. The wine is subtle and does not overpower delicate food flavours.
An elegant, complex wine with clear fruit aromas of blackberries, sour cherries, cassis and light traces of strawberries. Well structured with a full, creamy body. Velvety, mouth-filling, with nice, well-integrated barrel notes and dark chocolate. Ripe tannins with a structure typical of Shiraz and a long-lasting finish. An elegant Bordeaux-style wine.
This wonderful and well-known cuvée from South Africa, consisting mainly of Merlot, has a wonderfully fine structure with well-integrated tannins. Intense aromas of dark, ripe berries can be found on the nose and on the palate. With its fruitiness and elegant lightness, it has been convincing many wine lovers for years.
The most important decision each year is when to pick and this is done in small batches according to the microclimate which determines when each row becomes optimally ripe. As to winemaking, the winery is very natural in its approach: only grapes and nitrogen. Sulphur dioxide levels are considerably lower than average.
The first grapevines arrived in South Africa in 1659. Still, the Dutch colonists could have never imagined the South African country would become a source of wine, world-class, and a leading wine-producing country for sustainability.
South African wine must be considered when talking about both everyday and memorable wines, and the quality is better than ever. South Africa is the eighth wine-producing country by volume, and although its wine industry has had its ups and downs, today, the wine is worth revisiting.
What’s making South African wine find its place in the 21st century is quality-
minded producers, especially boutique wineries like Graceland Vineyards. This is what you need to know about this extraordinary estate, its wines and work in the vineyard and cellar.
Susan and Paul McNaughton founded Graceland to focus on premium red wine. The couple manages the entire operation with little help, which is quite a feat already. They take part in the estate’s every operation, from marketing to farming.
Fine wine starts in the vineyard, and the McNaughtons know it. The vines here are taken care of sustainably with no insecticides, and minimal spaying, keeping the vines healthy — they tend the vineyards like a garden.
In the winery, the winemakers’ approach is non-interventionist, ensuring a natural process from grape to bottle. The estate stands out for using considerably low sulfur dioxide, making Graceland a pioneer in hands-off winemaking in South Africa.
These are clean and refined wines we’re talking about. The grapes are destemmed and fermented traditionally in open vats. The team plunges the cap four times a day, committing to quality. Most interestingly, the estate champions a rare technique; they do oxidative racking to give age-worthiness and aromatic purity to its wines.
The result is bold red wine worthy of the finest long tablecloth tables and ideal for everyday enjoyment. Graceland Vineyards is what you’d expect from a premium estate anywhere in the world — of course, they’re amongst the most exemplary projects in South Africa.
Graceland Vineyards is located in Stellenbosch’s golden mile. Stellenbosch is the most famous source of red wine in the African country, and it benefits from the cooling breeze coming from False Bay.
Stellenbosch, 40km from Cape Town, is blessed by rolling hills sheltered by Simonsberg Mountain on the north. These valleys comprise sandstone and granite soils, which cause grapevines to dig deep for nutrients, resulting in ripe, concentrated grapes.
The region is arid, and the summers can be exceedingly warm. It’s easy to see why red wines thrive in the area. More than one expert has compared Stellenbosch’s terroir with Bordeaux. The wines from both regions share many similarities.
Stellenbosch is home to South Africa’s most concentrated and age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon, but other Bordeaux varietals feel right at home in the verdant landscape. Even the local Pinotage, a sturdy red grape, produces stunning wines in the area, and although not as popular as Cabernet, it’s worth trying.
Graceland Vineyards thrives, even in such a competitive wine region, as its
wines rise to the occasion and are splendid examples of what the prestigious
terroir can do. Let’s explore the wines Mr and Ms McNaughton craft every year.
Red wine is king at Graceland, but there’s more than meets the eye.
Strawberry Fields is Graceland’s most approachable wine. This 70% Shiraz 30% Cabernet Sauvignon is vinified individually, blended and aged in American oak barrels for a fruit bomb over a vanilla-scented palate. This is a young and vibrant wine for casual get-togethers.
Graceland Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon is their middle-ranged wine. This one’s pure fruit with scents reminiscent of blackberries and dark cherries, followed by hints of dark chocolate and espresso. This is a benchmark Cabernet in the area – it’s just done right.
Three Graces is the winery’s flagship wine. This beauty was first released in 2002, and it’s a Cabernet, Shiraz and Merlot blend that changes with the vintages. This is an age-worthy Stellenbosch with great concentration and complexity. This is what you’d bring out for special wine dinner parties.
Wine to Try
Three Graces 2013
Graceland Vineyard’s finest wine and one of the most structured wines produced in Stellenbosch, Three Graces is a world-class wine. This extraordinary blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Shiraz and 31% Merlot shows ripe black and red fruit on the nose, followed by a thick layer of oak spices and vanilla.
The palate is chewy and well structured, held together by a tight acidic backbone, and angular tannins that give the wine age-worthiness. Three Graces spends time in French oak, which adds layers of refinement to the South African blend. This is a skilled blend of the finest grapes in Graceland’s own vineyards. Just like in Bordeaux, the best wines in Stellenbosch make the most out of a combination of grapes.
Graceland Vineyards are extraordinary companions at the table. Three red wines come out of the winery’s cellar every year, and they’re all unique. They all pair with different food.
The estate’s mono-varietal Cabernet Sauvignon and Strawberry Fields are ideal for weeknights with friends when you need a dependable red to pair with roasts, steaks and meaty pasta. These wines are bold and fruit-forward but never overpowering.
On the other hand, Three Graces is a wine for special occasions. This wine can age, and it’s best enjoyed with duck confit, Angus or Wagyu steaks, lamb and semi-hard cheese. For a memorable wine, this one’s for you.
At the Heart of South Africa Stellenbosch is a prime estate for fine wine; the conditions are unbeatable. Still, it takes passion and great care to turn the region’s ripe red grapes into noteworthy wine.
Graceland Vineyards does just that; they make magic with what mother nature gives them. If you thought you knew South African wine, wait until you try what the McNaughtons can do.
The south African wine industry is back with full force. The red, white and even sparkling wine is better than ever. Of course, if you have to choose, go for Graceland’s reds.