Tokara: An exemplary Stellenbosch wine estate

Tokara welcomes visitors with exquisite wines, unforgettable restaurants and contemporary South African art, making this exemplary wine estate a microcosm of Stellenbosch at its best.

When GT and Anne-Marie Ferreira purchased their farm on the slopes of the Simonsberg in 1994, all they had in mind was to build a family home where they could raise their children. But they quickly recognised the potential for producing exceptional wines.

The realisation that Tokara is situated on some of the best soils for growing wine grapes sealed their fate. True to his calling as a formidable businessman, GT made the decision to venture into the wine industry in 1999. Calculations were made, strategies formed, sites identified – and so began the process to create one of the most breathtaking wineries in the Cape Winelands. From the outset, GT’s vision was to establish Tokara as a producer of world-class wines.

Cabernet Sauvignon has been an important focus since the first harvest in 2000 and the estate produces incredible wines from this cornerstone variety. Tokara’s interpretation of Cabernet Sauvignon is expressed by a flagship blend and a pinnacle cuvée, which together reflect everything the estate stands for: refinement, elegance and balance. This fastidious attention to Cabernet Sauvignon has brought rich rewards at international wine competitions.

Sauvignon Blanc, from two different vineyard sites, is another of the estate’s core varieties. Grapes are sourced from high-lying vineyards in Stellenbosch and from Tokara’s prized property in Elgin, an area highly acclaimed for producing some of the best cool-climate Sauvignon Blancs. With their fresh acidity and purity of fruit, these wines are in perfect balance.

At Tokara, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc are reflected in three ranges: Tokara Premium Collection, as blends across sites; Tokara Reserve Collection, single vineyard offerings; and Tokara Director’s Reserve, where the very best and most expressive parcels are used to create iconic blends that define its flagship wines.

During harvest (January–April), visitors can observe the winemaking process from the delivery of the grapes at the rooftop level, where they are hand sorted and crushed, on their way to the fermentation tanks suspended below. Tokara’s vision of producing world-class wines requires an exact focus with no room for compromise, and the dedicated team always strives towards this goal.

A visit to Tokara, situated at the crest of Helshoogte, is a feast for all the senses. A fusion of craftsmanship, natural materials and modern technology, the winery melds with the natural splendour of the surrounding landscape. Follow concrete and stone stairs up to the tasting lounge, Tokara Restaurant and a carefully curated art collection. Pause for a moment to absorb the spectacular view, then make for the lounge and peek into the fermentation cellar before sampling the variety of wines on offer, as well as Tokara XO potstill brandy and Cap Classique. Something a little different is a tutored tasting of Tokara’s blended and single varietal extra virgin olive oils.

Tokara’s olive oil adventure began in 2000 when Anne-Marie decided to produce single variety oils that would set the estate apart from the handful of South African olive oil producers at the time. Tokara grows primarily Tuscan varieties, each selected for its distinctive character and flavour. What began as 4ha of olive trees on Tokara’s steep slopes has grown to more than 22ha, planted predominantly with the classic varieties of Frantoio, Coratina, Leccino and Mission.

Book a table at Tokara Restaurant to experience a delicious journey into contemporary South African cuisine inspired by the local countryside and farm produce. Expertly prepared by chef Carolize Coetzee and paired with award-winning wines and dramatic views, it’s a feast for all the senses.

Go a little more informal at Tokara Delicatessen, which offers a seasonal menu and olive oil products and gourmet foods to take home. Its hearty bistro fare includes delectable pizzas and arguably the finest coffee in the Banghoek (or Banhoek) Valley. Then, appetite satisfied, take a relaxing stroll through the sculpture garden.

If you enjoy the finer things in life, come to Tokara; its different dining spaces, wine tasting and art, interlinked by gentle walks between olive groves and vineyards, make it the perfect day out in Stellenbosch.

You can take a piece of that day home with you by purchasing at the estate a copy of Tokara, a visual feast presented through the eyes of acclaimed photographer Obie Oberholzer. Over a period of two years, he created the book, returning on several occasions to capture the colours of the different seasons, the harvests of grapes and olives, and the various moods of the estate’s gardens. Tokara, says Obie, was a gift for the Ferreiras, whom he has known since the late 1960s. “It was a labour of love,” he adds, “and hopefully shows that this is indeed the fairest Cape in all the world.”