It’s winter in the Cape Winelands and the vineyards of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and the Swartland are bare of leaf. As the mercury drops and winter rains fill the soil for the growing season ahead, it’s a time of rest for the vines.

But certainly not for the winemakers who farm them.

While the neatly trellised rows of Vitis vinifera get some well-deserved time off, the talented cellar masters of the Cape are working to transform the 2024 harvest into memorable wines for the future. And though this year’s harvest was notably smaller than previous years, the combination of a cold winter, excellent rainfall and optimal growing conditions mean that winemakers expect the 2024 vintage to be a banner year for the Cape.

“What we lost in volume was gained in superb varietal expression, concentration, and perfect balances between sugar and acid,” commented Bertho van der Westhuizen, winemaker at iconic Stellenbosch estate Alto.

“Focused, defined, concentrated and balanced, the reds of the 2024 vintage summed up in four words,” adds Mark le Roux, cellarmaster at nearby Waterford Estate.

“One of the many things I love about wine is its ability to capture both a moment in time, and a sense of place,” enthuses Manuel Cabello, Operations Manager and Sommelier at Ellerman House. “And with the harvest now safely in the cellars, we want to share some of that excitement with both in-house guests and local wine lovers, which is why we are launching the Terroir Series this winter.”

This quartet of exclusive wine dinners will see four of South Africa’s leading winemakers host a once-off wine and food experience in the striking Ellerman House Wine Gallery, itself home to a 9000-bottle collection of fine and rare wines from South Africa and abroad.


A hand-picked selection of the featured winemaker’s wines from the Ellerman House cellar will be paired with the cuisine of Ellerman House Head Chef Kieran Whyte.

Each dinner begins with drinks and canapés served (weather permitting) on the ocean-facing terrace of Ellerman House, before guests move indoors to the Wine Gallery. Here guests will enjoy a four-course dinner, paired with selected wines from the featured cellar. With the winemaker on hand, diners can look forward to an informative and entertaining evening in the company of some of South Africa’s most respected wine personalities.

And as Chenin Blanc continues to be the flag-bearer for showcasing premium South African wine abroad, it’s only fitting that Raats Family Wines has been selected as the host of the first Terroir Series dinner at Ellerman House.

For more than 20 years Bruwer Raats has single-mindedly set about crafting some of South Africa’s most remarkable Chenin Blanc; wines uniquely expressive of the ancient granite and dolomite soils of the Polkadraai Hills of the Stellenbosch wine region.

Another factor in Raats’ ongoing success is focus. Since the first Raats Family Wines were released in 2020 he has produced only two cultivars: Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc. Today Raats is seen as both pioneer and the maestro of these two varietals in South African winelands. No surprise then that his handle on X (the social network formerly known as Twitter) is as straight-talking as the man himself: @CheninKing.

Raats would be the first to chuckle at what seems like the bravado in his handle, but heavyweights in the industry certainly agree.

Bruwer is a member of the prestigious Cape Winemakers Guild, and in 2018 Raats Family Wines was named Winery of the Year by the respected Platter’s Guide. More recently, in his 2023 Special Report on South African Wines respected UK-based critic Tim Atkin MW named Bruwer the South African Winemaker of the Year. High praise indeed.

The Ellerman House Terroir Series dinners are limited to a maximum of 30 diners per evening and are priced at R1400 per person. The full line-up for the inaugural series includes:


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