Iona Sophie te’Blanche Sauvignon Blanc has floral notes with a complex medley of tropical fruits, mingled with subtle lime and gooseberry undertones. The palate is balanced and rich, showing cut green apples with great minerality and texture. Sophie te’Blanche, a nickname given by those including our workers, who can’t pronounce Sauvignon Blanc, is the inspiration behind this much loved wine, produced from grapes grown by dedicated farmers in Elgin and the Cape South Coast.
In early 1997, Andrew Gunn, an engineer by training was contemplating his next career move. Having always loved the outdoors, the prospect of farming appealed to him and feeling young and energetic enough to start a new career, left the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg to begin the search for the ‘perfect’ farm.
This beautiful farm, named “Geelbeksvlei”, after the yellow billed ducks that inhabited the marshy area around the property, although planted to apples and pears, was proving unprofitable. In the old farming fraternity this is the point where you wait patiently for better days, but not being one to sit idle, Andrew set about immediately trying to find an alternative to apples. Having always been a lover of wine and on subsequent investigation into climate and soils, he arrived at the overwhelming conclusion that “wines are made in the vineyard, and that the best wines come from cool to moderate temperature climes, with low summer rainfall and low potential soils”.
Bearing this in mind, and with the help of his uncle, Professor Ronnie Savigear, a well know geomorphologist (the study of landforms), Andrew was able to establish that the farm was unique in the South African context, with a climate somewhere between Bordeaux and Sancerre in France but with the advantage of a lower summer rainfall, a warmer Spring and Autumn and with the post glacial alluvial soils, making it perfect for the production of high quality wines —- in theory.
Iona is the coolest vineyard in the Cape, 420m above sea-level, high above the picturesque Elgin Valley. An extremely long growing season, harvesting up to 2 months after Stellenbosch, results in diverse, complex flavours and uniquely fresh and elegant wines. Long renowned for their Sauvignon blanc, their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay; recently awarded 5 stars in Platter, are also very fine.
The vineyards are on a mountain plateau 420 metres above sea level, surrounded by the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. In a country where cool sites are precious, these vineyards are like gold dust — the grapes ripening up to two months later than other Cape vineyards and in perfect balance. Iona is South Africa’s coolest vineyard site. The vineyards are farmed according to organic and biodynamic practices with a particular focus on ensuring the health of the soils. Natural pest management is provided by the flock of geese that roam the vineyards