Hamilton Russell Vineyards was the first wine estate in the Hemel-en-Aarde region, thanks to the gumption and determination of Tim Hamilton Russell, an advertising executive who believed that this cool climate, Southern Cape location would facilitate the production of excellent wines. Tim was encouraged by his friend Dezso Pongracz to look outside of conventional wine-making areas. Thanks to Tim’s foresight this region has developed into a world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay producing area. Tim bought the farm in 1975 when it was still a sheep and wheat farm and the first wine they produced was a 1981 Pinot Noir. Ten years later, Tim’s son Anthony Hamilton Russell took over the business and reduced their varieties to focus solely on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In 1994 Anthony and his wife Olive purchased the family farm and conducted extensive soil research which identified 52 hectares of clay-rich, shale -derived soils which is where all plantings have been focused. Hamilton Russell’s Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines are not only enjoyed locally but have a loyal international following and are available in restaurants and shops in over 50 countries worldwide.

A number of winemakers who plied their trade at Hamilton Russell have gone on to create their own wine production and many have opted to remain in the Hemel-en-Aarde area. Peter Finlayson, Kevin Grant and Hannes Storm are all revered winemakers in this magical Pinot Noir region today who made wine at Hamilton Russell prior to setting up their own production. Today, the man at the helm of winemaking at Hamilton Russell is Emul Ross who has been at Hamilton Russell Vineyards since 2014. In an upcoming video, Emul talks about the challenges and victories of the 2019 vintage and how it took a region-wide collaboration to create this beautiful Pinot Noir.

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Photo credit: Karen Winter

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