Warwick Wine – The First Lady of South Africa
From 1771 until 1902, the winery Warwick was known under the name ‚De Goede Sukses‘ and is located in the heart of the wine region Stellenbosch at the foothills of the Simonsberg Mountain. After the end of the second Boer War, Colonel William Alexander Gordon, officer at the Warwickshire regiment, purchased the historic farm. As a tribute to his regiment, he called his new home ‘Warwick’. In 1964, Stan Ratcliffe purchased the farm after a long search for the perfect terroir at the Cape. Together with his wife Norma, he quickly realised the great potential of the soils. As a first step, they planted the noble grape variety Cabernet Sauvignon. Within the shortest amount of time, the grapes of the Cabernet Sauvignon were extremely popular amongst the surrounding wineries due to their high quality – a true novelty after such short time. Subsequently, Norma became more and more interested in the production of wine and without hesitation, studied the discipline. With her own wine cellar, Norma began to produce wine with her own grapes.
In 1984, the first vintage of the Warwick Cabernet Sauvignon – called The Blue Lady – was finally introduced to the market and only two years later, the first Warwick Trilogy – a blend made from the typical Bordeaux grape varieties which is now the flagship of the winery – followed. Norma Ratcliffe was the first woman accepted as a member into the Cape Winemakers Guild and also the first woman so far who was ever its president – which is why she is reverently called ‘The First Lady’. Since 1999, Mike Ratcliffe is CEO and significantly contributes to making the winery one of the most innovative ones in South Africa – amongst others, Warwick is a member of the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative in order to protect the Cape Floral Kingdom. With ‘Three Cape Ladies’, Norma and Mike have set the standard for a new kind of Cape wines – Cape Blends which are based on the grape variety Pinotage.
Warwick and the Legend of the Wedding Cup
Warwick is a popular destination and venue for beautiful weddings. Besides the breath-taking location and the grand wines, the special legend of the Wedding Cup plays a significant part; it is for a reason the cup is basically the emblem of the estate. According to legend, several centuries ago there was the beautiful princess Kunigunde. She was the beloved daughter of the King and Queen of old Nuremberg, whose hand had been promised in marriage to a prince from a faraway kingdom. How could it be otherwise, princess Kunigunde fell in love with a young, handsome silver smith. As a result, the King had the young silver smith thrown into a dungeon and not even his daughter's bitter tears could do anything about it. To her father's distress, the arrest of the young man did not end his daughter's love for him, but his daughter grew paler and paler due to the separation.
Hence, the King and Queen made the following proposal: if the silver smith could make a cup from which two people can drink at the same time without spilling one drop, he would be freed and they were allowed to marry. The King thought this task to be impossible but the silver smith was so inspired by his love that he created a masterpiece. He sculpted the body of a young woman. Her skirt was hollowed and served as a cup. Her raised arms held a chalice that swivels. The masterpiece could be filled and the chalice swung towards one of the drinking persons. The task was fulfilled and the princess married the silver smith. Following this fable, freshly married couples drink from such a cup together, usually filled with one of the delicious wines from Warwick.