South African Wines

How do you describe the wines of South Africa?  Are they from the old world or the new? Whatever your view I think we can all agree the taste is vintage.

Wivenhoe House is celebrating the superb variety of flavours on offer from this amazing nation at our next wine dinner on Friday 21 April. Without leaving the comfort of the beautiful Signatures dining room, guests will be guided by Sommelier Lionel Lachasseigne through a drinking tour of the vineyards. A South African themed dinner will be served, including a braai of marinated breast of guinea fowl,  and a Melktert, a traditional dessert of sweet pastry crust with a creamy filling.

Settlers pressed the first grapes at the Cape in 1659 and by the 18th century the area was famous for its Constantia dessert wines.  German and Italian immigrants brought their own, valuable, skills to wine making in South Africa in the 19th and 20th century. Their plants, nurtured in the old world, flourished in the soil and climate at the Cape, benefitting from the unique conditions created by the sea breezes from both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

Lionel says: “South African people are strong-willed and this comes out in the wine. The wine is robust and makes the most of the “terroir”, particularly around the Cape.  Settlers made their way here from so many wine-producing countries, including the French, of course, and the wines that have resulted, bring this history to life. “

A fresh impetus to the industry came at the end of apartheid in 1994.   Producers began to develop a knowledge of the international market, which in turn, welcomed the opportunity to try something different.

There are now more than 600 wine producers in South Africa, virtually double the number at the turn of this century. The enormous diversity in soil type, topography and climatic conditions has led to distinctive wines, offering enough variety in taste to suit almost every palate.

Pinotage, a red wine grape, is South Africa’s signature variety. Bred in 1925 as a cross between Pinot noir and Cinsaut, also known as Hermitage, hence the amalgamation to form the name. Other wine producing countries, including Germany and the United States, have taken note of the success of Pinotage and are now producing their own versions.

With wine tourism growing in popularity in South Africa, this dinner may inspire you to pack your bags to tour the stunning vineyards yourself.

Our wine dinner includes a five course meal and wine. To book, please contact us on;


find us, however you travel
By car:

When using a SATNAV please enter the location WIVENHOE, Colchester (do not use a postcode as this will direct you to the wrong side of Wivenhoe Park).

Take the exit marked Colchester (A133)
Follow the A133 towards Clacton
Please follow signs for WIVENHOE
You will see a black sign on your right which says, ‘Wivenhoe House & The Brasserie’, turn right here into PARK ROAD
The entrance for Wivenhoe House is shared with the University of Essex, but PARK ROAD leads you through Wivenhoe Park and you will be able to see our beautiful house from the road on your right
CONTINUE to follow the signs for WIVENHOE HOUSE and it will lead you to us.

If you would like any help with directions, please do call us on 01206 863666 and a member of our team will be able to assist you.

By train:

Colchester station, Colchester Town station, Wivenhoe station and Hythe stations are all between 10-15 minutes from Wivenhoe House by car. Trains run between London (Liverpool Street) and Colchester station every 10-20 minutes. The journey takes around an hour. Also connect with Colchester from Norwich, Ipswich, Felixstowe & Harwich. Some trains from London (Liverpool Street) also stop at Wivenhoe Station. When travelling from the Clacton/Walton direction, alight at Wivenhoe or Hythe Stations.

By plane:

Stansted airport is approximately 45 minutes from Wivenhoe House by car. Helicopter pad coordinates are 603200/223900.