Spoilt for choice – that’s the phrase that comes to mind when thinking about all of the incredible wine farms found in South Africa. From lavish, opulent estates that make you feel like royalty, to quaint, hidden gems waiting to be discovered, the options seem as endless as the growing vines. But the feeling and experience that Shannon Vineyards offers to wine lovers is something special – a feeling of home and true passion.

The Estate

Tucked away in the cool climate region of Elgin, just a 45-minute drive from Cape Town, Shannon Vineyards is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque estates around. After driving down the long oak-lined driveway, you arrive at a gorgeous country house framed by blue skies and perfect yellow roses. It’s quite easy to pause and find yourself wondering if you’ve magically ended up in the French countryside.

Stepping inside you’re immediately drawn in by the warmth of this homey venue but it only takes a couple of seconds for your attention to be diverted to the sight that lies just a couple meters ahead. As you walk out onto a wooden deck shaded by hanging vines, you’re greeted by a view that’s hard to beat. Vineyards in every direction that you look, a gently flowing river home to bobbing geese, gigantic trees towering over the river banks and a colourful manicured garden straight out of a fairytale. This is Shannon Vineyards.

Shannon Vineyards Elgin

Owned and run by the Downes brothers, James and Stuart, it’s quite clear how much love and passion goes into the estate. From the well-kept grape vines to the apple and pear orchards, the estate is abuzz with activity. After a quick rundown of the farm’s history from James, it’s hard to believe that the estate was once an inland naval base used for training new recruits. And how exactly did they come to run the estate? Their father, of Irish origin, spent a few years at the navy base before falling in love with the property and turning it into a farm in 1998. Fast forward a couple of years, a degree focusing on selective breeding (James), experience working in the vineyards of Chile (Stuart), and a shared passion for wine, the brothers now form the powerhouse duo behind this amazing estate.

Shannon Vineyards Estate
Shannon Vineyards Elgin

Tour of the Vineyards

Hopping into the back of a bakkie (read: pickup truck), James takes you on a tour of the vineyards to give you full insight into their varietals and what goes into the making of their world-class wines. The estate grows 4 different grapes: Merlot, Pinot Noir, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, and supplies not only the Shannon Vineyards label with grapes but a select few of other top winemakers in the Western Cape.

Gazing over the vineyards, James describes the workings of the farm with extreme passion. Explaining how the layout of the vineyards affects the grapes to the angle of the last post of a vineyard trellis influencing the growth of the vines (a trick picked up from South American wine farms).

Shannon Vineyards Elgin
Shannon Vineyards Elgin

Wine Tasting

Setup on the deck overlooking the vineyards, taste your way through Shannon Vineyards’ wines. Offering an impressive range of 12 wines, their Shannon Black 2013 and Shannon Cappal Bán were recently awarded 5-star status by the Platter’s 2019 South African Wine Guide.

The full range of Shannon Vineyards wines include:

  • Shannon Vineyards Sanctuary Peak Sauvignon Blanc 2017
  • Shannon Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2017
  • Shannon Vineyards Merlot 
  • Shannon Vineyards Pinot Noir 2017
  • Shannon Vineyards Rockview Ridge Pinot Noir 2017
  • Shannon Vineyards Macushla Pinot Noir
  • Shannon Vineyards Cappal Bán
  • Shannon Vineyards Mount Bullet
  • Shannon Vineyards Triangle Block Semillon 2017
  • Shannon Vineyards Rock n Rolla Pinot Noir 2016
  • Shannon Vineyards Semillon
  • Shannon Black 2013

If you’re organising the wines at your next wine club or curious about the wines and can’t wait to plan a trip, let one of our experts assist in ordering the Shannon Vineyards wines – enquire now.

Shannon Vineyards Elgin
Shannon Vineyards Elgin

Wine Estate Lunch

Next up on the menu? A delicious lunch packed with locally sourced produce and dishes. Expect to see platters overflowing with ricotta topped roasted vegetables, bowls of fresh salads and warm, farm-made South African pies (the indulgent, savoury kind). And if you’re wanting to switch things up a bit, choose from a private dining experience with a top South African chef or watch the sunset over the vines with a traditional South African barbeque.

Shannon Vineyards Elgin
Shannon Vineyards Elgin

Whether you’re a wine expert or someone simply looking for a memorable wine experience, Shannon Vineyards is the perfect stop. Combining incredible wines, beautiful scenery, a rich history, and amazing food, this should definitely be added to your Cape Town bucket list. Contact one of our experts to arrange a tour or to add this into your winelands itinerary.

Planning a trip?

Want to know more or have any questions, let an Explore Sideways expert help you plan an experience you will never forget!

Images by Matthew Sterne.