Worth an 82km trip from Cape Town? -
Of course the best place to sample the 51 Miles sauvignon blanc and unwooded chardonnay is on platform 1 at Elgin station, near the sign that tells us we are 919 feet above sea level and 51 miles from Cape Town. If the weather is unkind, head into the old booking office, now an appealing tasting room where marketing manager Emy Mathews or assistant Dianne de Vries will welcome you and pour your choice of Winters Drift wines. But first, try the new duo, both 2014 vintages, new releases that burst with freshness, offer a mouthful of melon and nectarine (the sauvignon) followed by green apple and gooseberry, while the equally vibrant chard presents citrus upfront, before flavours of stone fruit softened by a classic creaminess and finishing with a great mouthfeel. Accessible, yes, but the Elgin classiness is there too. I prefer the sauvignon, but both wines are sourced from vineyards planted around a decade ago, and both they a hugely enjoyable aperitif or companion for seafood and poultry. They sell for R80 and R85 respectively, only from the tasting room and online through the Winters Drift website (www.wintersdrift.com).
Elgin station is also a great setting in which to wallow in nostalgia, as you contemplate how all those apples used to be transported by ox wagon to market before the advent of the railway line over Sir Lowry’s pass in 1902. Fifty one miles, or 82km, seems a trifling trip today, but back then the wagons took days… There are many reminders of the past in the tasting area, including a handsome antique clock that – after 80 years of keeping time in the Molteno farmstead across the way - ceased ticking at 19h03, commemorating the year that Ted and Harry Molteno bought Glen Elgin, the farm through which the railway line runs. This is a good venue for a country lunch – and you may catch the daily goods train which roars past on its daily run., laden with Overberg grain for the breweries.