Gold to Grapes: The Winshaw Family’s Journey to Stellenbosch

Attending the recent introduction to Winshaw Vineyards felt like stepping back into time – with their feel-good anecdotes about those higher up in the family tree, to the tales of runaways, gold seekers and ultimately wine makers. Hosted in their converted stables – the charm of the family and the rusticness of the farm could be felt. 

The two brothers, JP and Pierre, are at the front of this age-old family business and are steering it into a direction of quality, locality and sustainability.  The Winshaw story traces its roots back to the tenacious spirit of William Charles Winshaw, a pathfinder whose life journey reads like a tale from the Wild West

Born on November 21st, 1871, in Kentucky USA, Winshaw embarked on an odyssey at the age of 12, leaving behind his family and venturing into the deep South in pursuit of adventure and enlightenment. This path ultimately brought him to South Africa in 1904, after many years abroad as a cowboy, gold prospector, gambler and doctor, where he rented a farm just outside Stellenbosch and began experimenting with winemaking—a decision that would shape the destiny of future Winshaw generations. His pioneering efforts laid the groundwork for the establishment of the Stellenbosch Grape Juice Works in 1911, marking the genesis of the Winshaw family’s journey into the wine industry.

Fast forward to the present day, where JP and Pierre stand together, representing the winemaking traditions that follow the Winshaw family. Dedicated to delivering quality, ensuring Mother Nature is adhered to and embracing a symbiotic relationship with cattle farming, Winshaw Vineyards is retracing it’s steps to reclaim its position as a prominent Stellenbosch wine producer.

Diving straight into the whites – the Swashbuckler Chenin Blanc took me back to the roots of Chenin. That flinty,  pithy balance with sun-ripened peaches flirting on the nose and a honeyed after note is an excellent example of a minimalist style – it’s edgy and yet not over the top. When asked about the hint of honeyed notes, Pierre explains they make the wines “as dry as the season allows” – a nod to the philosophy of working with the grapes you are given, steering away from manipulation. The Chardonnay, Gold Dust to Grapes, is a little more introverted. An uncomplicated white with a delicate balance of fruit and almost unnoticeable oak (but enough to offer some complexity). 

Transitioning to reds, we were introduced to Bill Winshaw, Charles Winshaw, and the Legacy range’s Cabernet Sauvignon. As the icon that he was, Bill had a lot more to share with us – he was punchy, bold and had a definite stronghold on the palate, a blend dominated by Cabernet Franc. The wine had structure without being grippy, smooth tannins roughed up by a bit of spiciness and herbaceous notes with that undeniable sultry green pepper from the Cabernet Franc. 

The Charles Winshaw is a blend dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon and has that underlying velvety characteristic. JP elaborates, the only reason you should be making blends is to make the wine greater than the sum of its parts – a remarkable feat that has been achieved in both red blends. 

After our tasting, we spilled over into the gardens with wine flowing into each of our glasses. Diving into the Winshaw relationship with cattle farming, we came to learn about the importance of grass fed beef, and the role the cows play in maintaining the vines. Plates of roasted aubergine parmigiana, leafy green salads and melt-in-your-mouth slices of steak were brought out to showcase the versatility of their wines. Vegetarian? Gold Dust to Grapes is your choice. Meat lover? Then Bill will take care of you. The food was deliciously prepared and meticulously presented, with only empty plates being taken back into the kitchen. 

An incredibly interesting afternoon spent with the Winshaw brothers – thank you for sharing the story I had no idea I had been drinking. It was absolute bliss to be swirling the Gold Dust in my glass and being introduced to your great grandfather, Bill. 



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