October 6, 2019.

Where patience meets passion.

Annandale Wine Estate, a stone’s throw from Stellenbosch where the mountains and rugged ridge lines rule, and where Hempies du Toit lives, the man behind the liquid gold in the Annandale bottles that epitomize what can happen when art, confidence and love weave together.

Hempies was once a Springbok front rower, with a story or two to tell about life on the pitch, in particular the 1981 tournament to New Zealand where they chucked the oval ball around against the All Blacks. Being pre-professional days, on this tour these giant-sized Boks reaped a nightly rest or two on camp stretchers – which were barely long enough to reach their knees. Rugby life may be a far cry from vines and winery life, but what they do share is true grit and passion.

“I love life and if I’m not passionate about something I’ll pass it by.”

Hempies casually lined up a few bottles on the table for us today, in the tasting room that was once the hub of the Annandale riding school. These were his current releases; a 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2005 Shiraz, a 2004 Merlot…. to name a few.

“I just leave the barrels alone, I hardly touch them.”

The oak barrels will house these wines for a number of years before Hempies bottles them. Well wine can look after itself when the soils the vines live in are in such good nik; the land was once commercially used for broccoli and melons. Hempies wild ferments too, and this method has never let him down.

“I love sharing my passion with special people.”

The health out in the vineyards rings loud in our glasses as we whole heartedly stick our noses in, swirl and sip.

He rattles off his stand-out vintages off the top of his head, his ‘uitskieter’ (stand out) years – this guy is proudly Afrikaans. 

Hempies knew my enthusiasm for this ancient drop, and nailed it when he said “this is like your walk in the clouds.” So cheers Hempies, thanks heaps for your generosity, tales, and such a rad memorable morning. You’re a super cool dude. And all the best for the Rugby World Cup… 🍷🍇🤣🏉