Winters Drift Wines stay on track to open the restored tasting station

Clock strikes as Tasting Station opens on time for the festive season on historic Glen Elgin Farm, home of Winters Drift Wines.

Winters Drift Wines stay on track to open the restored tasting station
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Winters Drift Wines, rooted in Elgin history, have opened their Tasting Station in the restored historic Elgin Station building on the Glen Elgin farm, where Winters Drift Wines are grown. Few wine ranges can tell a more captivating story than the extensive history of Winters Drift Wines, the wine brand of Molteno Brothers, bestowing authenticity and integrity to the location of their tasting venue. 

Elgin – Molteno Brothers’ Legacy

The Winters Drift wines, named after the ‘winter ford’ crossing of the Palmiet River, on Glen Elgin, which formed part of the original ox wagon trail through the Overberg, honour the remarkable story and legacy of two pioneering and philanthropic bachelor brothers, Ted and Harry Molteno. These young men purchased Glen Elgin in 1903 and dedicated their entire lives to transforming Glen Elgin from a modest vegetable farm into a vast fruit-farming enterprise that spanned the valley. On the death of younger brother Harry in 1969, Glen Elgin was bequeathed to the Molteno Brothers Trust, with all profits to be used for the furtherance of ‘educational, cultural and charitable interests’.

In time ‘Elgin’ referred not only to the Molteno brothers property, Glen Elgin, but also to the railway station built upon their farm, and soon the entire farming area became known as Elgin.

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Just as the Molteno brothers’ legacy changed the face of Elgin farming dramatically, so did the railroad and Elgin Station on Glen Elgin provide the crucial and fast route for their produce to the Cape Town market and the growing export trade. This became particularly important for Elgin’s burgeoning deciduous fruit industry.

Tasting station

The original railway line, which runs through Glen Elgin farm, is still active today with sometimes two to three grain-laden trains passing through daily. The Elgin Station building had fallen into disuse and disrepair after the 1970s, when road transport sidetracked rail, and had become the object of ongoing vandalism. Molteno Brothers, owners of Winters Drift Wines, bought the Elgin Station residential houses and embarked on lengthy discussions with Transnet to get permission to renovate the historic station building and finally to open the Winters Drift Tasting Station.

The comprehensive recreation of the interior and exterior of the Winters Drift Tasting Station has faithfully retained the atmosphere of the hustle and bustle of the Elgin Railway Station in its heyday. The interior has an industrial feel with metal fittings and shades of grey colour theme. Appropriately, the tasting counter is made from Jarrah, the wood used for railway sleepers. The Tasting Station has two rooms: one with the tasting counter and the other the Waiting Room, with comfortable chairs, couches and a fire place, reminiscent of an old-world railway station waiting room. The space has an uncluttered yet cosy feel. Period pieces adorn the room, including old suit cases, railway benches, clocks, and bell-telephones.

The Winters Drift Tasting Station is situated on the outskirts of Grabouw, just off the R321 to Franschhoek and Villiersdorp. The Winters Drift range of wines can be tasted and purchased and picnics can be booked in advance. Soon a delicatessen will be opening which will sell, in addition to delicious deli items and light lunches, fresh produce and flowers from Glen Elgin Farm, including cut fynbos flowers, potted proteas, honey and fresh fruit, with other local produce to follow.

The Winters Drift clock

The antique clock, steeped in the history of the Molteno brothers and Glen Elgin farm, and depicted on the wine labels, now passes time in the Tasting Station. Myrna Robins, in a recent article in the Weekend Argus, wrote insightfully, “The antique clock on the labels of Winters Drift wines is more than a symbol of the passage of time. 

This elegant timepiece, which ticked away the hours for more than 80 years in the Molteno brothers’ farmstead on Glen Elgin, will soon find a new home in the Winters Drift tasting centre on Elgin station. There it will link past to present in a stylish reminder of agricultural success and ongoing philanthropy.” The antique clock on the Winters Drift label, designed by Anthony Lane, shows the time as 19h03, the year in which the Molteno brothers bought Glen Elgin farm.

Winters Drift wines

Winters Drift Wines were successfully launched earlier this year, all of which can be tasted and purchased at the Tasting Station:

  • Winters Drift Sauvignon Blanc 2011
  • Winters Drift Chardonnay 2011
  • Winters Drift Rosé (100% Merlot) 2011
  • Winters Drift Pinot Noir 2011 

All the grapes for these Winters Drift wines were grown on Glen Elgin farm and the white wines and rosé were made in the Gabriëlskloof cellar, a few kilometres beyond Elgin, under the watchful eye of winemaker Kobie Viljoen. The Winters Drift Pinot Noir 2011 was made by Koen Roose of Spioenkop Wines in Elgin. Only 700 bottles were produced, but bigger volumes will be available with future vintages.

The following wines will be available in the New Year:

• Winters Drift Sauvignon Blanc 2012
• Winters Drift Chardonnay 2012
• Winters Drift Rosé (100% Merlot) 2012
• Winters Drift Shiraz 2011

The two 2012 white wines were made by Koen Roose and the 2012 Rosé and 2011 Shiraz were made by Kobie Viljoen.

For further details on Winters Drift Wines see Additional Information below.

Tasting station opening times

Tuesday to Friday: 9am – 4pm
Saturday: 10am- 4pm
Sunday: First Sunday of every month
Monday: By appointment only
Contact: Emy Mathews (Marketing and Tasting Station Manager)
Telephone: 021 859 3354/2527 • Cell: 082 494 1265
E-mail: [email protected]; [email protected]