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How a decades-old conversation put Elgin on the map


How a decades-old conversation put Elgin on the map

What began as an experimental venture between Paul Cluver and Nederburg has become a fully fledged wine region

Michael Fridjhon

Lockdowns are never a good time to be enthusing about wines when the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) has ruled them beyond the reach of those wishing to buy them legally.

Happily a series of conversations with Dr Paul Cluver (who established the modern Elgin wine region and the eponymous wine business now run by his son) provided several interesting insights into how it all happened. It’s not often that in the lifetime of one person a significant wine of origin becomes properly established, and it’s even rarer when the person who was central to the process has the memory — and documentation — to fill out the details.

The De Rust estate in Elgin was acquired in 1896 by the great grandfather of Cluver after the bankruptcy of the then owner, the grandson of the famous missionary, Rev John Philip. By all accounts he had no real plans for the property...

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