Replacing rows of vines with city streets, Cape Town wine lovers no longer have to drive into the winelands to experience the taste of their favourite wines but instead can now experience and explore fully functioning wineries in the heart of the city.
The history of urban wineries notes an obvious discrepancy with many of the city’s vineyards closing production down during the early 1900s due to wineries not being able to function in tough economic environments. However, during the 19th century there has been a strong re-emergence with the City Bowl currently having numerous operational urban wineries, the most famous of all probably being Leewenhof, which is now the residence of our Premier.
Signal Hill Wines is another example of this re-emergence and how bringing the vines closer to city dwellers has not only been a benefit but also how sharing this unique experience with clients has made the decision so worthwhile.
Jean-Vincent Ridon, owner of Signal Hill Winery says that opening a winery in the CBD allows you to interact directly with clients. “You get to enjoy being closer to your clients, they are able to get involved with the process and at the same time enjoy the experience that is available to them on their doorsteps.”
Opening a winery in the middle of the city is not necessarily the norm but for Ridon, wine is in his blood and opening a winery was the only way he could express his passion and at thesametime work close to home.
“I am an urban dweller, I lived in Paris, New York and Brussels – suburban life is not and never has been for me, and in my opinion the beauty of the countryside is perfect for the weekends only. Now I live in the heart of Cape Town and I might have chosen to open a winery in the city because of laziness, but the reality is that in every old wine region, the wineries are all in the villages, or in the city. Being a traditional Frenchman I did not want to be in the winelands, the winelands can grow great grapes as well, but the city has a unique vibe and I want my wine to be a reflection of my identity.”
Ridon also feels that more wine-makers should take the chance and explore this idea.
“I hope that more wine farm owners will move into the city and give Cape Town a touch of its former wine glory. It helps as well to de-mystify the snobbery in wine because every step of the process is made visible to the wine lovers, in ways that are not really made possible when they go to wineries in the winelands over the weekend,” says Ridon.
Great news for wine-lovers, and even better news for the city of Cape Town!