A five-gun salvo kicked off the 50th birthday celebrations of the storied Kanonkop Estate, bringing together leading lights from the wine fraternity. Iinternationally recognised as on of South Africa’s leading wine brands, along with being one of the oldest — this year marking 50 years since the first Kanonkop bottled wine was released.
Where it started
Kanonkop’s decision to make its first wines under an own 1973 vintage label, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage, has a background reminiscent of family and rugby.
Wine had been made in Kanonkop’s Simonsberg cellar since the 1940s under supervision of its founder Paul Sauer. In 1969, a young winemaker named Jan Boland Coetzee was employed and soon becoming known as a focussed and knowledgeable wine man who planted new vineyards on the farm and produced exceptional quality wine in the process. However, these wines were sold to blend into the corporate’s big brands.
Jan Boland was not only a winemaker, but also an incredible rugby player. And with South Africa set to host the British and Irish Lions in 1974, Jan Boland was rumoured to be selected for the national Springbok team.
Here Jannie Krige, husband to Sauer’s daughter Marie and father of Johann and Paul, who are Kanonkop’s owners today, entered the picture and suggested that Kanonkop release a wine under its own label. They believed that because the maker of the wine was a national rugby hero, people would come to know Kanonkop as a brand on its own, with a dynamic back-story.
Jannie received Paul Sauer’s blessing to for the first time introduce two bottled Kanonkop wines onto the market from the 1973, just in time for Jan’s Springbok debut against the Lions in 1974. The rest is history.
Paving the way for extraordinary wines
The extraordinary quality of those first bottlings paved the way for more extraordinary Kanonkop wines. Since that 1973 vintage, Jan’s commitment to wine quality from the famous Kanonkop vineyards has been followed by winemakers Beyers Truter and the incumbent Abrie Beeslaar, each having played a role in taking Kanonkop to further heights. Between Beyers and Abrie, they have four times been named IWSC Winemaker of the Year.
As Kanonkop celebrates its 50th vintage, the estate shows no sign of slowing down as it continues to be at the top-end of the Cape’s wine offerings. Along with the unique terroir of Kanonkop’s Simonsberg home, the owners Johann and Paul Krige follow an ethos based on focussing on red grape varieties as well as using traditional cellar practises that has been followed by the Kanonkop winemakers since the very first vintage.
Terroir and the guidance of generations allow today’s consumer to be a part of Kanonkop’s tradition of excellence that has prevailed for 50 years and is set to remain a vital part of South Africa’s premium wine offering