At Safriel House, we create an ongoing continuum from grapes to wine, preferring to make the wine close to the vineyard which keeps the fruit fresh and, amongst other things, reduces the carbon footprint by not trucking grapes around wine country. We believe in keeping and supporting these long term relationships, which allows us to focus on quality farming and winemaking, fostering community and authenticity.
The winemaker of our Sui Generis Syrah (Sui Generis is a Latin phrase meaning “in a class by itself”, therefore, “unique”), started her career at an estate that has been growing vines since the 17th century and where Yair Safriel also previously worked. She spearheaded their Cabernet project where her first vintage was hailed by Robert Parker as the best red wine from South Africa that he’s ever tasted. Looking for a new challenge, she shifted her focus to find a pocket of land, a vineyard that is very expressional of that area, which she found in unparalled jewel of the Elim ward near the lighthouse at the wild and stormy confluence of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. “It’s not the easiest of farming because of the elements, we’re dealing with huge winds. But you have these incredible aromatics forming over a huge ripening period.” She currently live in Kommetjie, a quaint village on the Southern Peninsula where she make time to surf whenever she can and is a past winner of the Annual Vintners Surf Classic.
Our decorated Chenin Blanc wines (the Reserve Chenin Blanc and Constance Natural Sweet) are made by one of the understated winemakers in the Cape. She works with a "cellar within a cellar" environment where she can select grapes from the best vineyard for our wine. This frees her from feeling obliged to use and entire production for our wine, with vineyard lots not meeting strict quality criteria finding other avenues. Not growing up in wine family, she at started studying for a career in Bio-Organic Chemistry but her life trajectory took a turn when she joined a friend enrolled in the winemaking degree for a vineyard visit - and switched to a winemaking major after that. She spent a lot of time in the experimental cellar during my studies and brings that spirit to her work. She and her husband (also a winemaker) have a daughter and live on their own farm in the Wellington appellation.
The winemaker of our Elgin Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc comes from a long line of farmers and winemakers in the Paarl/Perdeberg region (North of Stellenbosch). He cut his teeth as an assistant at Uva Mira, when the estate won Young Winemaker of the Year and then moved on to be the lead winemaker at Slaley before achieving the Cape Wine Master Certification and branching out on his own with a passion for finding the perfect combination of grapes and terroir. The seriousness leaves his face and he brightens up when he speaks of his favorite place – his home overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Pringle Bay, surrounded by a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The approach of the wine maker who crafts our Safriel House Reserve Cabernet and Rosé is clean and simple and she prefers not to manipulate the process: "wine should taste like the fruit it was made from". This extends to the vineyards where she decides when to pick the grapes and how to handle them once they arrive while looking at the grapes on the vine. This comes from experience. She graduated in 1997 and spent the next five years vinifying two vintages a year: in South Africa and Australia in the Southern Hemisphere fall and Germany in the Northern Fall before spending four years working in Australia. She believes that one of the main attributes that sets her apart is her consistency across vintages.
Her favorite moments in the wine-making process is the fermentation, standing in a quiet winery at night, and hearing the tanks bubble.
The winemaker who vinified the Safriel House Select Vineyards Cape Classic White grew up on a nearby fruit farm. His first internships were at Fleur du Cap (a part of the Distel conglomerate) and, as contrast, the 350 year old Boschendal Estate. This was followed by experience at Mendocino in California, New Zealand, Australia and Saint-Émilion in France.
On his return back to South Africa in 2009, he worked at the world renowned Nederburg and at Vergelegen (the iconic Somerset West wine estate) before moving to the Franschhoek valley, where he and his wife, who is also a winemaker, live on one of the Franschhoek valley farms.