Since its establishment in the late 17th century, when land in the Franschhoek valley was first allocated to Huguenots, La Bri has been a source of fine wines. Hence, La Bri is one of the oldest Huguenot-allocated farms in the Franschhoek Valley.
The name La Bri has different origins: one is a town of Brie which was owned by the de Villiers family, who was the 1st farmer of the vineyard, another one comes from the French word “L’Abri”, which suggests a refuge and a restful place.
This farm is surrounded by 15 hectares under vines, besides a river, at the foot of the Franschhoek mountains.
La Bri chooses a manual harvest rather than a mechanical harvest, in order to preserve and protect the fruit’s freshness, and to enhance the quality of the wines.
In addition, this vineyard is characterised by different soils types, from sandy loam to deep and rich alluvial soils. This allows for a very diverse range of grape’s varieties: Chardonnay, Viognier, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot. La Bri elaborates European, classic in style wines inspired from French wines.
During this day in La Bri vineyard, we were welcomed by Irene Waller, the winemaker of the vineyard. The day before, a quantity of grapes had been harvested, so we were able to participate in the first phases of vinification of this grape variety. On the one hand, we sorted the grapes to check that some were not rotten and also to separate the leaves from the grapes. We then put the bunches of grapes in the destemmer, in order to insert them into the press and extract the juice. When the juice was extracted from the press, we hand-cleaned the press, which was quite impressive, because we had to get into it and remove the remaining skins and seeds. Finally, we added yeast to the grape juice that had been put into barrels the day before for fermentation.
Finally, we had an amazing tasting session with the winemaker Irene. At La Bri, there's a specific tasting experience. Indeed, you can taste their wines with food which tends to enhance the original wine aromas. For instance, you can taste chocolate, lokum and biltong to match with wine flavours. These combinations excite the palate and complete each of the wines. Guests are encouraged to experiment wine tasting with flavours and textures: find out more in our article!