Humans who love horses are a unique breed, just like cat lovers. The same goes for wine lovers. Equestrians and wine go hand-in-hoof. It’s a kind of chicken and the egg scenario, isn’t it? As long as there have been equestrians, there has been wine, both for celebratory and consolatory purposes.
Breeding horses and cultivating vines are not uncommon. Farming with horses make better wines, some say. With biodynamic practices and the desire among some to keep the craft of horse viticulture alive, equines are returning to the vineyards.
I know of four wine producers in South Africa who have racehorses to thank for the fortunes they’ve made from breeding thoroughbreds. Avontuur, Excelsior, Arabella and Cavalli are all making ridiculously-stupid amounts of money from the racehorses they breed for the gambling humans of the horse racing world.
Get a glimpse into the life of a Thoroughbred Studfarm owner, complete with a winery and a vineyard for the horses. Created for horse enthusiasts, humans who love horseback rides and Sarah Jessica Parker. Here’s a list of 10 horsy wines from South Africa, honouring the champion studs of horseracing, where one man’s loss is another man’s gain.
Not to be confused with Arabella Country Estate and Golf Estate in the Kogelberg Biosphere, Arabella Wines is located in the Robertson Wine Valley near Ashton. The name Arabella was chosen as a wordplay on the beautiful Arabian horses, which grace its verdant pastures.
Home to a superb broodmare band consisting of 39 mares from around the world, Avontuur Estate has been producing quality wine grapes for more than 140 years, long before the horses arrived in the 80s. The Stellenbosch wine and thoroughbred stud farm produces a selection of white, rose and red wines, all of which are Champions in their own way. The real super-stud, however, is the Avontuur Estate Potstill Brandy, aged for more than 10 years in 3rd fill red wine oak barrels in the cellar before it was bottled.
Italian for horses, Cavalli is also home to a world-class equestrian centre; a fine-dining restaurant; gallery of contemporary art; an upmarket boutique; and, a collection of rare celebrity memorabilia and finest whiskies. If ever you wonder if horses have a better life than humans, then Cavalli proves that they do. As for the wines, the estate’s focus is on Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Verdelho.
Breeding horses and cultivating vines, that’s what Excelsior has been doing since ostrich feathers became a non-essential item of the fashion industry. Located in the Robertson wine valley, Excelsior is a good choice for a romantic wineland wedding, especially for couples who share a love for horses and wine. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most planted varietal and flagship wine of the estate. Other wines on offer include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Merlot, and other red blends.
Flagstone Dark Horse
A horse that can’t be tamed! This ensures delicious, age-worthy wine with a silky structure and a brooding, mysterious nature, capable of surprising you with its power and energy – a real Dark Horse disguised as a shiraz.
Perdeberg Wines is located at the foothills of Pederberg Mountain and receives its name from the Mountain Zebra that used to roam around the area. Exporting wines to 16 countries around the world, Perdeberg gets raving reviews for its Dry Land range of wines, made from vines grown under stressful conditions.
The Drift Gift Horse
Never look a gift horse in the mouth! Scoring 93 points from Robert Parker, this horsey wine is truly a gift! Made from a very small single vineyard of Barbera, planted on The Drift in Napier, Gift Horse is something special to savour when the right occasion calls.
Tall Horse goes with anything…and anything goes with Tall Horse, according to the wine’s website. you may be wondering why they are called ‘Tall Horse’ wines and not simply ‘Giraffes’ when you look at the label? There is a reason if you care to know. For those who don’t give a horse’s arse and are only here for the wine: Tall Horse is a true citizen of Africa with many, many friends, who are just as surprised as you will be when you taste the sensory flavours of safari, jam-packed into every bottle of Tall Horse.
Thorne & Daughters Rocking Horse
This cornerstone wine of Thorne & Daughters takes its name from a wooden rocking horse that the owners made for their daughters out of old oak barrel staves. Composed from a number of carefully selected vineyard sites in the Cape of Good Hope, the Rocking Horse is a serious white blend for people who are serious about horses made from wood or not.
Two Dogs, a Peacock & a Horse
A dumb wine that requires no intelligence to drink. That’s what the rebels of the vine say! Perfect for pool parties and 1000 of your closest friends. The centre of attention and often found on the backseat of cars, you won’t believe the bottle is finished until you reach for another Two Dogs, a Peacock & a Horse.