Our Story: outstanding organic wines that reflect our passion

The Elgin Ridge Story

View from tasting roomYears ago, before Elgin Ridge was even a twinkle in their eyes, owners Brian and Marion Smith sold their successful IT business in London and decided that it was time to pursue a dream that they’d always shared – to make small quantities of outstanding wines which reflect their passion.

Thus began a search that took them to most of the wine-growing regions of Europe, but without finding “the perfect site”. They cast their gaze further afield and the journey led them to discover the Elgin valley in South Africa in April 2007. This tiny valley, with its unique terroir, natural beauty and undeniable character, captured their hearts – it was the perfect place to turn their dream into reality.

The site itself, a modest 10 hectare apple farm, was neglected and had remained fallow for many years, but showed great potential. Papers were signed, the Smiths readied themselves for the permanent move to South Africa and our very first vines – Sauvignon Blanc – were planted. Thus began the story of Elgin Ridge!

Outstanding Natural Wines of Authenticity

From the very beginning, our objective was to farm organically. This decision was championed by Marion right from the start, who was committed to farming in a way that is sustainable and truly reflective of the site. For Marion, organic was always the only option.

Today, Elgin Ridge is proudly certified biodynamic by Demeter (since 2016) and certified organic by ECOCERT (since 2012). We are the only certified organic producer in the Elgin valley and one of just two certified biodynamic producers in the whole of South Africa.

Our vineyards are and have always have been completely untouched by chemicals. Vineyard manager Taurai Matunbwa knows each and every inch of our farm like the back of his hand. We have a hardworking team of animals who assist Taurai, who all play vital roles – from our Percheron horse Maddox (now enjoying his retirement) who helped with weeding and ploughing in the beginning, to our herd of Dexter cattle which provide us with nutrient-rich manure, Dorper sheep which keep the vineyards weed free, and free-roaming Peking ducks and chickens whose appetites keep snails and bugs at a minimum. We also produce all of our own biodynamic compost needs, rich in nutrients and teeming with living micro-organisms, which keeps our soils and vines in optimal condition.

In the cellar, our talented young winemaker Kosie van der Merwe – at the helm of our cellar since 2016 – follows a philosophy of minimal intervention, ensuring that the flavours and characteristics so carefully nurtured in the vineyard are showcased in the wines he produces. Natural yeasts and wild ferments are celebrated and we do not add any enzymes, cultured yeasts or acids during the winemaking process. Kosie is passionate about trying exciting new techniques and innovative approaches, and so unconventional winemaking styles, concrete eggs and even amphora can be found in our cellar.

2019 marks a decade of winemaking at Elgin Ridge and we’re proud of all that we’ve achieved in a relatively short space of time. All the care, passion and knowledge that we have invested into making our dream of creating outstanding natural wines a reality may explain why they receive such rave reviews, both in South Africa and on the world stage.

Our hope is that you enjoy drinking Elgin Ridge wines as much as we enjoy making them. Thank you for being part of our story.