12 Sep 2017
Posted by Wade

The Art of Great Wine…

When people ask me for 2 or 3 Stellenbosch vineyards to visit, I unblinkingly suggest a drive up the Helshoogte. On the crest of the pass, nestled amongst vineyards and panoramic views you’ll find three magnificent wine farms.

First on the right, there’s Delaire Graff, the pinnacle of luxury in the winelands. Turn left, and you’ll encounter Thelema, a family-owned and -managed farm, outstanding in every aspect.

And opposite Thelema, you’ll find Tokara, where I recently had lunch to celebrate their new vintage launch. It proved a great opportunity to catch up with some of Tokara’s key players whilst enjoying some incredible wines paired with an equally sublime lunch, prepared by Chef Richard Carstens.

Tokara morning scape

Over the past two decades, owner GT Ferreira has managed to not only create a veritable feast for the senses, but to fill this space with like-minded people who share his commitment to excellence.

Having bought the land in 1994 for residential purposes, GT soon spotted the potential for a world-class wine estate. He then cleverly avoided the pitfalls and costs that come with such an ambitious project by co-opting the services of Thelema’s winemaker, Gyles Webb. A few years in, Gyles then appointed the youthful and gifted Miles Mossop who became Tokara’s first resident winemaker.

Their shared dedication has paid handsome dividends, taking Tokara wines to the pinnacle of international and local recognition over the past 18 years.

Yet seasons come and go (as any winemaker will tell you), and Miles is currently transitioning his responsibilities to the new winemaker, Stuart Botha, formerly of Eagles’ Nest in Constantia. Stuart2

In true Tokara style, the handover from old to new winemaker will be anything but hurried – with both Stuart and Miles working together until after the 2018 harvest. Tokara GM, Karl Lambour explains, “Miles has got 18 years of knowledge shored up in his brain, and even though everything is recorded, it’s his intuition and hands-on experience which needs to be transferred to Stuart. What’s important for Tokara is a sense of continuity and we found that in Stuart. He possesses a similar character to Miles – in his constant pursuit of perfection.”

Stuart says that his philosophy is to express terroir with as little intervention as possible.  Explaining why he is the happiest he has ever been, he tells how he became a winemaker so he could be outdoors, and be challenged creatively in an art form where the journey of learning is never complete.

Indeed, in the words of Robert Mondavi, “Making good wine is a skill, but making great wine is an art.”

Almost 25 years in, Tokara looks set to continue showcasing inspiring works of art, in all of its multi-faceted forms…

This article was written by Wade Bales and first appeared in Wanted Online