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Paarl, South Africa

Nelson vineyard, located in Paarl is North of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek 30 minutes driving. The route from Stellenbosch to Paarl doesn’t change much as, you are travelling through the lush green countryside with the mountains accompanying you and sunshine bouncing off peaks, the sky is piercing blue and the Cape doctor (wind) blowing through keeping you and the vines cool and fresh. South Africa is an incredible place and in the three weeks I have been here, I feel I’ve hardly scratched the surface and need more like 3 months.

Lisha Nelson, is a talented wine maker currently studying her for her MBA and a qualified wine maker famous for her Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc is a grape often found in a Bordeaux blend but when she was tasting spotted the grapes solo potential and entered to the young wine competition and as a single variety come out with shining results – so Lisha decided to take a punt on 2014 vintage and not blend the Cabernet France but bottle 10 barrels. It paid off and whilst she makes amazing Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, rose, Cab Franc, Bordeaux red and dessert wine.

Lisha’s latest project is aged chenin blanc and this year she is putting chenin into barrels to age. Lisha’s approach to wine making is all about show casing the beauty of the land and minimal intervention from the wine makers. The land she has is huge with 6 full time staff, 14 guest houses, conference facilities and wedding venue, often used in film sets because of the amount of space and beauty of the place. I met her half way through harvest which is a very special time of year as the winery as is alive and kicking – I watched her team press the grapes and when you are making wine time is precious with no time to waste or sit still. Thankful to Lisha’s time to give me and thankful no covid issues this year!

Two very adorable big dogs are at Lisha’s heels, both rescues, one aged 8 and the other still young. She's a huge animal lover and recently a dove flew into her winery and nestled into the into one corner, whilst annoying she cant turn her away and now has 2 chicks which her and her daughter and deciding what to name.

Interestingly Lisha’s shared recent conversations with Corney & Barrow about the fashion for lighter colour rose wine that is taking the European market by storm. 5 year ago we use to drink rose wine all shades of colour without thinking about it. The desire for pale pink is the rage but the flavour isn’t always there. Lisha’s rose is made with petit Verdot and shiraz, these are two colourful grapes and with skin contact of less than an hour it makes a light pink rose but not pale. In order to get to the pale pink you need to add chemicals and comprise the flavour. Lisha is a talented wine maker and leads with integrity, therefore she isn’t prepared to comprise the flavour for colour and prefer to have a rose wine a shade darker. The rose is still light pink in colour, with nothing added on dry land with no irrigation and has a beautiful structure, red berry, floral and what I love most is the lingering flavour. Utterly delicious and I’m a hug fan of drinking all shades of rose.

We went for a drive with the dogs looking around the estate and checking out the vines. She also has 45 horses, paddocks, stables and an arena, plus a dam and it is staggering the amount of land and space she has compared to perhaps the wineries in France – all backed by mountains and trees. A very special on this earth – I highly recommend visiting. We have been in SA over 2 weeks and feel like we are just scratching the surface.

Wines available at www/ from £11.25 for the rose


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