If you haven’t heard of Newstead wines from Lund Family Vineyards, that’s probably because they’re a very recent addition to a very young wine-producing region. But don’t expect the anonymity to last long. Newstead may be the best kept secret inside South African wine’s best kept secret.

Newstead launched its first vintage in 2012 and is one of just 20 wine farms in the Plettenberg Bay Wine Of Origin district, which was only established in 2006. While many wine producers in the Western Cape tout centuries of history and tradition, there’s something refreshingly exciting about the potential of pioneering a “start-up” in a region where, a decade ago, vineyards really didn’t exist other than as an idea in someone’s head.

The area has been compared favourably with New Zealand, for its climatic and geographic characteristics, for the style of wines produced and for the way perceptions about its wines are changing so rapidly. And, in fact, it was a visit to New Zealand that inspired Doug and Sue Lund to start growing vines.

Both come with impressive pedigree, having grown up and worked on thriving sugar and dairy farms in KwaZulu-Natal. “But,” Doug says, “we wanted a change and a challenge.” Farming grapes in the Garden Route provided both.

So the Lunds broke new ground – literally and, in the context of their lives, figuratively – and in 2006 they bought 11.5 hectares of fallow land in The Crags, at the foot of the Tsitsikamma Mountains, 15 minutes from Plettenberg Bay. Five of those hectares are planted to Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – varieties that are especially suited to the New Zealand-like temperatures and cool ocean breezes. The vines are planted in a north-south direction to maximise the sun and benefits of those winds.

It has been, and always was going to be, demanding. But with an exceptional team, and Sue and Doug’s backgrounds, they had all the right ingredients.

An international polo player, Doug was familiar with the ethic of determination, resilience and perfection that it would take to make a success of Newstead. Sue, with diverse experience in design, styling and food, was well qualified to look after the farm’s tasting room. (“Doug nurtures the vines, I nurture the customers”, Sue says.) And their three children are very much a part of things, close at hand to help with the harvest or prepare platters for visitors.

As the name “Lund Family Vineyards” suggests, the sense of family is palpable at Newstead. “It’s a small, boutique winery. We wanted it to be elegant but simple, stylish but intimate. How it makes people feel is very important. We put friendship before function,” Sue says. “It’s not uncommon for visitors to end up staying a few hours. Sometimes the hardest part of this business is actually charging for the wine!”

The belief that “small is special” also extends to the winemaking, where the emphasis is on quality rather than numbers. The Lunds don’t aspire to produce wine in large quantities, and nor will they cut corners for the sake of economy or efficiency. There’s evidence for this in the use of netting over the vines – a route few farmers take because of the expense, but which resulted in some of the most unblemished grapes any farmer is ever likely to see.

Newstead’s award-winning winemaker put them to good use. Anton Small (previously of Villiera) has produced a fresh, easy drinking, unwooded Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc with a flavour-filled nose that is in contrast to most mass-produced wines. Both have been met with high praise and growing excitement, and are helping to put Newstead on the map. With the Pinot Noir and Méthode Cap Classique bubbly due for release in 2013, Newstead is set to become a destination.

And, while these first wines are the reward for six years of hard work, they’re only a beginning. “It’s been an unpredictable but incredible journey,” Doug says. “We’ve grown something from nothing. We’ve grown as a farm and as a family.” On the evidence of what they’ve achieved, they will continue to.

Newstead’s warm and welcoming tasting room is open by appointment throughout the year. A large outdoor venue is soon to be available for functions and celebrations. Watch out for events at Newstead during December.

Cellar price is R65 per bottle, countrywide delivery can be arranged.

For more information please contact Sue Lund on 083 616 0010, email:

info@newsteadwines.com or visit them on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Newstead-Lund-Family-Vineyards/1740151193

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