Stellenbosch, the second-oldest wine producing region in South Africa, is one of the country’s premier wine regions.Warwick Estate is a high-end South African winery in the Stellenbosch region of South Africa. The estate has a rich farming history dating back to 1771. Then a fruit farm, Warwick only emerged on the forefront of South Africa’s wine scene when Stan and Norma Ratcliffe bought the estate in 1964 and started developing the land with an extensive focus on the classic Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Stan Ratcliffe purchased Warwick on April 1st 1964 after an extensive search for the best ‘terroir’ in the Cape.
Norma became increasingly interested in the making of wine and began to study the subject. Soon a cellar was in place and Norma began producing her own handcrafted wines using the Warwick grapes. Norma developed a talent for making great wines and production rapidly increased. Through determination and commitment, Norma Ratcliffe became one of the Cape’s first female winemakers – and one of its most illustrious wine personalities, whose legacy is immortalised in the Warwick “First Lady” range.
The first wine under the Warwick label was released in 1984, then named “La Femme Bleu” – “Blue Lady” as it is known today. Two years later, in 1986, the Warwick Trilogy – a three varietal Bordeaux-style blend – was released and has since been recognised as a truly iconic wine, with multiple vintages adorning some of the greatest wine lists in the world.
Throughout the years, Warwick’s wines have won many awards, firmly establishing the brand as a South African icon. Norma was awarded the 1659 Medal of Honour in 2015 for her impact and contribution to the South African wine industry: an impact which has had a lasting effect and benefitted the industry as a whole. Previous winners were Nelson Mandela, amongst other leaders.
Warwick remains one of the most respected labels from the prestigious Stellenbosch region.
Warwick are also known for the highest rated Estate Cabernet Franc, and were the first winery to launch a Cabernet Franc in South Africa, an iconic move which has since created a much-admired reputation for Warwick. Warwick are not just known for their iconic red varietals; they also produce highly rated white wines such as their premium estate Chardonnay – The White Lady Chardonnay. First vines planted in 1991, the vines are between 24 and 26 years old. The 2016 vintage was recently awarded as a five star platter wine for 2018 Platter Guide and the 2014 was voted ‘South African White Wine of the Year’ by Platter.
Warwick implemented an environmentally friendly approach to produce top quality grapes from the outset.
Realising the importance of biodiversity, over the past decade they’ve strived to maintain a balance between nature and winemaking. The farm refrains from using harmful insecticides, instead concentrating on spot treatments in the vineyards. This has had a positive effect, and their booming earthworm population is a result. Warwick are a Biodiversity and Wine Initiative member, striving to protect and conserve the Cape Floral Kingdom, by preserving the Cape Fynbos and planting at least 100-150 trees per year.