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Koen and Lore Roose’s 50ha farm is situated in the Highlands of Elgin, 320m above sea level, 11km from the ocean and facing the South-Easter when she blows. Some of the terraced vineyards are on extremely steep slopes and the plantings are unusual relative to conventional wine farms – different spacings between the rows and a pruning regime aimed at keeping the vines close to the ground.

From the dam at the top of Spioenkop’s hill you have a 360º view of the entire Elgin Valley, which makes it easier to come to grips with the climatology of the area – something that the Rooses are happy to explain to visitors. The steep slopes can be dangerous to work on. This is a place where you need a lot of courage just to cultivate vines, let alone produce high-quality wines from them.

Spioenkop is about bringing back the traditional approach to winemaking and about sharing this knowledge with everybody who has a passion for wine. This is a wine farm, not a château where luxury and status are priorities and the soul is forsaken. Here you meet and talk to the owners who are always prepared to help you further discover the secrets of Spioenkop and its ‘crazy winemaker’.

Those who take the time to drive into the heart of the Elgin Valley and up the dirt road to the Spioenkop cellar will see for themselves how Koen and Lore view winemaking from a different perspective to most others in the Cape winelands. They exude a passion for wine and a love of nature, with their domain including a ‘lapa’ that doubles as a wine-tasting room and which is situated in the middle of an indigenous garden that visitors are welcome to explore, glass in hand.

In the lapa there are comfortable chairs and proper wine glasses, and for the rest it’s a matter of natural simplicity. The view takes in the southern part of the valley and there are hiking trails that lead across and alongside the vineyards. “In this way you can breathe in the whole picture, so to speak. It’s all part of the Spioenkop experience,” says Koen.



Over 100 years ago, on the evening of Tuesday 23 January 1900, 1 700 British troops deployed to South Africa prepared to attack their enemies on a hill in Natal known as Spionkop – the name ‘Spioenkop’, meaning ‘Spy Hill’ or 'Lookout Hill', was coined by the Dutch settlers for the commanding views it afforded of the slopes and valley below. During the days that followed, a bloody battle ensued... Read more

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