About Mellasat Vineyards
Mellasat Vineyards is the life long vision of Stephen Richardson, a Norfolk farmer born and bred in the UK. As a teenager, a definitive and surreal experience tasting fine Bordeaux wines with his grandfather, introduced him to the world of wine and it has become a passion ever since. For a few years, Stephen had the idea of starting up a vineyard on his Norfolk farm. However, it became clear that the East Anglian weather was neither reliable nor conducive to producing fine wines. Unperturbed, Stephen looked overseas for a suitable wine growing area. He finally decided on South Africa and it was here, in 1996, that he purchased a farm that had existed since 1693, Dekkersvlei in Paarl's winelands. He lives at the vineyard for most of the year with his two daughters, who are both at University at nearby Stellenbosch. Stephen returns to the UK every so often to touch base with his Norfolk farm and friends there.
The Paarl region is one of the most famous wine growing regions in South Africa's Cape winelands, and the vineyard enjoys a spectacular position under the dramatic Klein Drakenstein mountains with panoramic views of the town of Paarl and it's famous granite rocks. Particular attention was taken to selecting the root stock that would suit the warmer climate and granitic soils of the region and, in 1997, under the expert supervision of local viticulturalist and farm manager, Poena Malherbe, Stephen started replacing some of the existing Chenin Blanc vines with the noble red cultivars Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Pinotage. In addition to the remaining Chenin Blanc, he has recently added Tempranillo and Chardonnay which should start to produce fruit within the next three years. The management of the vineyards, currently eight hectares, is geared towards reflecting this unique "terroir".
Mellasat's boutique wine cellar has been restored by Stephen from the original Victorian cellar building but the charm and history of Dekkersvlei are still very much in evidence as you pass through the cellar and take in some of the original fittings which have been retained and are on display in the tasting room. The working element of the cellar though, is very much an evolving practice as technology and artful creativity combine under the watchful eye of the winemaker. The current cellar equipment and fermentation tanks are primarily stainless steel sourced locally in Paarl but are complemented by French and American oak barriques, which are hand picked from selected coopers and are essential for maturing fine wines in time honoured tradition.
As a small boutique winery, in an ever competitive market, our aim is to distance ourselves from the average "volume" producer and the perception that South African wine comes at a cheaper price point than other wine producing countries.
The development of our own stand-alone premium wine, Mellasat 'M', which is made in a time honoured, European style will spearhead this approach. Through niche-marketing to appropriate and discerning consumers, wherever in the world they may be, and backed up by quality of service and support, Mellasat hopes to remind people that fine wine is an experience which can't always be bought like bread and milk. Our wines reflect a uniqueness of balance and complexity reflected in the terroir that exists at Dekkersvlei. In addition, we have a second label, Dekker's Valley, a collection which consists of a dry red blend called Revelation, a dry white Chenin Blanc and in the near future a Rose will be introduced. These are easy drinking style wines, youthful in appearance and age with modern labeling aimed squarely at the entry level market. They are perfect for function catering, house wines or for those that seek a quaffable wine in a relaxed style.
Stephen has won several awards for his wines but it is a mark of quality when something is continually rewarded for its excellence. The prestigious Nederburg auction have selected Stephen's wines for a third year running now and with Mellasat 'M's first vintage achieving a Silver medal at both the Sante Classic Trophy Show and Decanter World Wine Awards and with the results from the International Wine and Spirit Competition still to be announced, it shows that Mellasat are well on their way to achieving recognition as a mark of true quality.