New Boplaas Alvarinho Re-affirms The Calitsdorp Winery’s Reputation For Innovation

Boplaas Family Vineyards has unveiled its maiden vintage Alvarinho. A South African specialist of Portuguese varieties, Boplaas planted the white wine grape at its Calitzdorp farm where the drier, warmer climate ensures top quality.  

Alvarinho is traditionally grown in northwest Portugal and Galicia, the coastal region of Spain where it is known as Albarinho. Calitzdorp has a similar Mediterranean climate, where the variety ripens early during harvest season.

The maiden Alvarinho 2023 spent four months on the lees prior to bottling and is distinguished by its fresh and elegant fragrance that reveals the aromatic complexity of the variety. It’s vineyards are very rare in South Africa.

The wine is released under Boplaas’s Family Reserve label, which comprises wines of limited quantity. The aim of the Family Reserve is to showcase vineyard sites, the skill of the growers and craftsmanship of the winemakers.

With this release, Boplaas demonstrates once again a pioneering spirit and thirst for innovation. Notably, the six-generation family enterprise’s venture into Portuguese wine grape varieties was not completely planned.

Tinta Barocca was the first arrival and made its way to the farm by pure chance and a fortunate accident or two. Boplaas patriarch, Oupa Danie Nel, returned from a visit to the Swartland in the late 70’s with his Chevy El Camino packed with Shiraz. His neighbours duly finished of the Shiraz and there and then a decision was made to plant this variety on the farm.

An error was however discovered later, in part by his son, current owner and cellar master Carel Nel. Carel was still a student of oenology at Stellenbosch University when he discovered his father’s vines were actually Tinta Barocca and not the desired Shiraz. A trip to Portugal followed, where the Nel Family befriended many of the Douro’s top producers. Since then, Boplaas has emerged as a leading producer of renowned fortified wines and award-winning still wines from Portuguese varieties. 

The reins of the Boplaas cellar have since been passed to Margaux Nel, who has a Master’s Degree in Viticulture from Stellenbosch University. Her thesis naturally focussed on the effects of Klein Karoo terroir on Touriga Nacional.

Time has shown that Calitzdorp is a prime location for plantings of Portuguese varieties, which thrive on less water than traditional grapes and are less sensitive to warmer weather. 

Today a range of red Portuguese varieties are planted on the farm like Tinta Barocca, Touriga Nacional, Souzao and Touriga Franca, as well as White Verdelho.  

Alongside the winery’s full portfolio, the new Boplaas Alvarinho is available for purchase from and selected retailers.