There’s real spirit in the Winelands: Jorgensens Distillery, Wellington, Cape Winelands

“An inspiring visit to the Jorgensen distillery, located in Wellington in the heart of the Cape Winelands.”

“An inspiring visit to the Jorgensen distillery, located in Wellington in the heart of the Cape Winelands.”

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This month we switched our drink of choice from the grape to the grain after an inspiring visit to the Jorgensen distillery, located in Wellington in the heart of the Cape Winelands.  Here from Versailles, the historic family farm, Roger and Dawn Jorgensen are lovingly handcrafting a small but exclusive range of spirits and liquors aimed at a discerning market that has really begun to sit up and take notice.

I had met Dawn a few weeks earlier through our shared love of travel blogging and she invited me out for a tasting, so always on the lookout for new and interesting places to recommend to our travelers, I went to take a look. I had to admit I was also intrigued that in a region of rapidly increasing wine making, what was making the Jorgensens “buck the trend” and go a different route?

After less than five minutes in the company of Roger, the answer was clear, here was a love affair!

A canny ex wine maker he knew the economic reality well and whilst he still turned his hand to a few barrels of his favourite red for his own consumption, he was also an ideas man, driven to innovate and to push his talents into something new. Roger’s passion for his new calling was infectious and I was soon hooked as we walked into his old barn to be met by an assault of wonderful smells, with all sorts of strange and exotic herbs hanging from roof beams and spilling out of sacks and containers.  It was here that he spent hours a day experimenting, combining different herbs looking for distinctive flavour.

Whilst clearly out of my depth, I did find the distilling process fascinating but it finally came to that moment when it was time to stop listening and watching and time to start tasting. We retired to the stoop, with views out across the mountains and in the peace and tranquility of the late afternoon, Roger and Dawn talked (and poured) me through their range of products.

First it was the Primitive Vodka with the distinctive peppery flavours I had encountered earlier in the barn.

Then onto the Sauvignac Brandy, which even to my heathen’s palate had a smoothness and confident quality about it. Very classy!

The Naked Lemon Limoncello was hugely adventurous and the Field of Dreams Absinthe was totally new to me, something I had never tasted before. A highly alcoholic green spirit flavoured by “grande wormwood” (another herb I remembered from earlier) anise and fennel.

Not only did they taste good, but they looked good too. All stylishly bottled and packaged thanks to Dawns branding and marketing background and their daughters’ cutting edge design skills. It was clear that this really was a family business.

Never was the word “small is beautiful” more appropriate. But whilst this distillery is still very much a cottage industry, the combined talents of the team and the knowledge of the industry and how to position the business, just make it a success waiting to happen

As I drove home later with a bottle of Rogers brandy sitting beside me on the car seat, I had a huge smile on my face and as I reflected, I realised I had just spent one of the most enjoyable afternoons I’d had for a long time.

So if you are visiting the wine lands and want to be captivated and enthralled by something different, in the company of some of the nicest people you could meet, then give the Jorgensen’s a call and arrange to stop by for a tasting.  Click here to find out more.