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Clos Malverne Winery

Clos Malverne Winery

Malvern Heights was originally owned by Colonel JW Billingham, he named the farm after the rolling hills around Malvern from his native England.

The 10-hectare farm was bought by Seymour Pritchard in 1969.

When winemaking came into Seymour's sights in the mid-1980's France was still at the centre of the wine universe so he "Frenchised" the name to Clos Malverne.

By 1985 Clos Malverne had already been supplying its wine grapes to Stellenbosch Farmers' Winery for a number of years, when Jeremy Walker, now of Grangehurst fame, suggested to Seymour at a braai that Christmas Eve that they make wine from Clos Malverne's grapes.

So, 800 bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon were made in 1986 and this and the 1987 vintage were so encouraging that Seymour decided to go into winemaking full time.

The Cabernet Sauvignon '88 was the first release to the public and a year later Jeremy Walker joined Seymour as full-time winemaker.

Clos Malverne is very much a family affair, besides overseeing the entire operation Seymour and his wife Sophia have spent enormous time and effort successfully developing international markets for Clos Malverne.

At present about 75% of their wines are exported, to the UK, Ireland, Holland, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, USA, Canada and a few others.

Sophia also attends to the financial department in its entirety and Lizelda Pritchard is responsible for exports and logistics as well as the friendly voice you will hear on the other side of the phone.

Zaine Pritchard, Seymour's only nephew, has come in for marketing and assisting with the business as Seymour's right hand.

Even Seymour's son, Llewellyn, is involved being responsible for IT and web designing and it doesn's stop there. Our flagship wine called the Auret is named after his (Seymour) mother's maiden name. This happens to be Seymour's second name.

It is no coincidence that the bulk of Clos Malverne's successes have been achieved during IP's tenure as winemaker, which started with the 1998 vintage.

Seymour attributes this to his dedication to quality and the holistic approach he adopts in starting the winemaking process in the vineyards, through his position as viticulturist.

In 1990 IP obtained his BSc degree in agriculture, oenology and viticulture from Stellenbosch University.

This was followed by 2 vintages at Swartland Winery as assistant winemaker and a three-year stint as winemaker at Simonsig Estate, before joining Clos Malverne in 1997.

The current harvest is his sixth at Clos Malverne.

The Devon Valley microclimate is key to the quality of grapes grown on Clos Malverne.

Although the valley is shallow it acts as a natural receptacle for the morning summer mists that linger around Stellenbosch. The valley is cooler than surrounding areas, significantly lengthening the ripening season, resulting in very ripe grapes.

The vineyards are mostly planted on the gently sloping terrain of the valley.

Seymour recently purchased two other farms very close to Clos Malverne.

Dwars in die Weg has 11 hectares under vine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc).

All vines are drip irrigated using water from the farm dam.

Carlsrus has 4 hectares under vine (all Pinotage) using drip irrigation with water obtained from Theewaterskloof dam.

Clos Malverne's 10 hectares of vineyards (Pinotage, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz) also have drip irrigation using water from Theewaterskloof dam.

Clos Malverne uses a traditional "handmade" style of winemaking.

The grapes are softly basket pressed and they still use open fermentation tanks.

Also caps are punched down by hand.

The cellar can handle up to 400 tons although the yield from the vineyards is presently running at 350 tons per annum.

French and American oak are used to mature their red wines.

Additions to the cellar were completed for the 2003 harvest. They included extra barrel maturation facilities and wine storage.

A new public tasting room was also added and improvements to the house/office included a private suite for visiting agents and guests and a large entertainment area overlooking the pool for functions, large tastings etc.

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