If you’re looking for a gorgeous, delicious and fun exploration of the Western Cape, a tasting room road trip around Hermanus is a must. Rhodé Marshall visited wine duo Jean-Claude and Carolyn Martin’s Creation Wines to experience their innovative pairing style.
Driving into Creation Wines is the start of an amazing experience. The atmosphere is light, almost too pure, as it welcomes you to what could very well be one of the most memorable experiences you’ll have, high on the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge near Hermanus.
Entering the Walker Bay wine farm, with its well-considered tasting area, feels like some sort of heavenly transition.
The tasting area is built according to owners Jean-Claude (JC) and Carolyn Martin’s vision of creating an experience of wine, food and art that complements the winery situated in a remote corner of this wine region. This is a journey the duo embarked on in 2002.
Both JC and Carolyn grew up understanding wine, independently going on to fall in love with it, and then coming together to find their own special way of sharing that love and appreciation with others as a team. They spoke to #Trending at their farm where it all began, while introducing the Autumn menu.
JC hails from Switzerland, where he spent his childhood surrounded by his grandmother’s vineyards. By age 14, he decided to become a winemaker – a dream he realised by the age of 20.
Carolyn was raised in the winelands and developed her love for winemaking at her grandfather’s Hartenberg farm in Stellenbosch on the slopes of the Bottelary Hills. Her father, well-known winemaker Walter Finlayson, got everyone to fall in love with Blaauwklippen and then Glen Carlou wine estates.
Carolyn explains: “When arriving on the farm [Creation Wines], it was little more than a small enclave of rolling hills and valleys with a few sheep grazing among the fynbos. It had never been planted with vines before, offering us a unique new beginning.”
She says there was no infrastructure on the farm – not even electricity or running water.
“Establishing a winery in a remote corner without basic amenities wasn’t easy, to say the least. Yet we persevered and, when the first grapes were harvested in 2006, the quality was exceptional.”
With beautiful artworks by sculptor Nanette Ranger on the tables and surrounding areas, their breathtaking tasting room overlooks the vineyards. The pieces were created especially for Creation Wines, with inspiration being drawn from everything that’s within reach on the farm and its environment.
With a mixture of the richness of nature, complemented by the skills and innovation of the Martins and those around them, Creation Wines is warm and welcoming. The couple pay close attention to every detail to make sure that those who visit their tasting room feel sensory happiness. Carolyn has perfected the art of creative concepts, turning Creative Wines into the ultimate food and wine pairing destination with its story menu.
The FynArts Story of Creation menu includes seven chapters, with each dish creatively coordinated with a wine and artistically offered to complement Nanette’s charming sculptures. Each food tasting is carefully paired with the wine. My personal favourites are the elegant Creation Viognier 2019 with its pairing dish – mushroom and spinach dumpling – or Creation Reserve Pinot Noir 2017 with line fish, beetroot, beurre rouge, radish and herb oil. Add to these the chords compiled by local sound designer Ivo Ivanov, and it becomes an amazing sensory experience.
The pairings develop and shift with the selected wine, and Carolyn sensibly plans each pairing with her skills and expertise so that you experience an incredible mix of flavours and textures.
“At Creation, we believe that wine and food pairing is an art in itself,” says Carolyn. “To demonstrate this, our brand-new FynArts Story of Creation Pairing Menu brings you what we like to describe as ‘delectable art’, but with an exciting difference.
“Thanks to the guidance of consultant forager chef Ryan Anderson, and our landscaper and fynbos expert Meindert Poerink, our new menu abounds with the allure of citrus buchu, wild garlic flower and wild sage to titillate the senses and beautifully enhance our wines.”
FYI: Kids are not forgotten. There is a special pairing just for them.
ANOTHER SPOT TO CHECK OUT
There are almost 100 local wines as well as 12 locally produced Méthode Cap Classique options to taste, The Wine Glass in Hermanus offers a lovely space to savour and enjoy these wines. You can do it by the glass, bottle or in a tasting experience of six. It’s an easy way to appreciate and get to know wine produced in the Walker Bay wine region.
Out of Botriver, Hemel-en-Aarde, Stanford, Elim and Agulhas, this location in the heart of the old town of Hermanus is the perfect place to start if you’re not sure which wine farm to visit. What makes The Wine Glass unique is that many of the wines on offer – especially the premium ones – are not available to taste at the wine estates. There is also a restaurant that offers plates of delicious food.