Set on the lower slopes of the majestic Simonsberg Mountain in Stellenbosch - the heart of the Cape Winelands - Kanonkop is a premium wine estate that has been in the family for four generations. This area of South Africa is famous across the world for producing some of this country’s finest wines.
Situated on 125 hectares (of which 100 hectares consist of vines), the estate is blessed with long summer days, ideal soils, cool sea breezes; creating the perfect environment for grapes to flourish. The name Kanonkop stems from a cannon that was fired from a kopje (hillock) in the 17th century to warn farmers in remote areas that sailing ships from the Far East and Europe had arrived for their stopover at Table Bay.
Originally bought by JW Sauer (a cabinet member of the Union of South Africa) the estate has been in the family for over 40 years. Paul Oliver Sauer took over the reins from his father and was joined in 1967 by the famous Springbok rugby player, Jan Boland Coetzee. His daughter Mary Sauer was wed to Jannie Krige (a rugby administrator at the University of Stellenbosch) who together with Coetzee created Kanonkop’s first estate bottled wines in 1973. In 1980, winemaker Beyers Truter joined the estate, and together with Mary and Jannie’s two sons Johann and Paul, they continue to this day to create exceptional wines.
Renowned for its red wines, most of Kanonkop’s vines are more than 50 years old.
50% of all plantings are Pinotage, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. The Pinotage vines are maintained as bush vines to provide optimum ripeness and help with regulating the crop. The Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, on the other hand, have been trellised into a five strand hedge.
No irrigation is done on the estate, except for in a small portion that has sandier soil. The Cabernet Sauvignon yields on average four tons per hectare (2 600 lit/ha), while the Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Pinotage yield roughly six tons per hectare (4 000 lit/ha).
Traditional open concrete fermenters are used for the fermentation process with wide and shallow tanks, rather than the usual high and deep tanks which ensures optimum skin contact. Up to once hourly the cap is punched by hand to ensure 6 to 7% alcohol has been reached. During this time, the temperature is controlled to between 28 and 30 degrees Celsius to extract most of the flavours, good tannins and colour. Time on the skins is carefully monitored to between three to five days. When the wine is dry, malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel and concrete tanks, as well as new 225 litre oak barrels to complete the process.