Established in 1989, Bouchard Finlayson is a boutique winery dedicated to the making of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc of outstanding quality.
History and Heritage
In a hidden valley at the Southern tip of the new world, lies a winery that combines the best of the old ways with a streak of innovation and creativity. Established in 1989, Bouchard Finlayson is located in the internationally acclaimed wine region of Walker Bay in the Western Cape. The 125 hectare property has only 22 hectares under vine, with the rest left wild as a conservancy of pristine indigenous Fynbos flora. The winery began as a collaboration between Paul Bouchard, celebrated Burgundian winemaker, and locally awarded talent, Peter Finlayson. Together, they broke the soil, planted the vines and built the cellar that would become world-renowned as Bouchard Finlayson.
This blend of old and new world can be found in everything from the mix of steel and concrete tanks, to the modern and classical art on the walls, right through to the wines themselves. Collaboration has always been a part of the estate, which is today owned by the Tollman family of The Red Carnation Hotel Collection and collaboratively run by Victoria Tollman and Peter Finlayson.
Bouchard Finlayson has established a global reputation for its flagship wine, the Galpin Peak Pinot Noir, which has won numerous awards and accolades. Repeated vintages of this path-blazing wine continue to reflect a true celebration of Pinot: consistently endorsing the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley as the perfect place to grow this illusive grape. Other cultivars from the farm include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese, Chenin Blanc and Riesling as well as some newer varieties: Nebbiolo, Barbera and Mourvèdre – unusual in new-world wine growing regions but very well suited to the unique terroir.
Cellar Master, Peter Finlayson
Peter Finlayson is renowned for pioneering South African Pinot, as well as putting the Walker Bay wine region on the map. He was the first winemaker in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and has been at Bouchard Finlayson since its inception in 1989. His dedication to making the finest wines is illustrated across the wine range, with emphasis on his Pinot Noirs.
Having graduated as an Oenologist from Stellenbosch University, he furthered his studies at Geisenheim in the Rheingau. After a three year stint at the fledgling Boschendal winery, he took up the challenge to set up the first winery in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley. His success has been recognised globally, with a string of awards for his achievements with the Pinot Noir grape and many other mastered varietals found at Bouchard Finlayson. Today, his wines are considered a prized addition to any collection.
Winemaker, Chris Albrecht
As winemaker, Chris has brought his own ideas and philosophies to enrich the processes and approaches at Bouchard Finlayson. His ideology has perfectly complimented Peter and they make a balanced team. Chris is a decorated and qualified winemaker in his own right. Having grown up in The Cape’s golden triangle of wines, Chris has always had a love of agriculture and viticulture.
He achieved a degree in Oenology and Viticulture from Stellenbosch University, and his practical experience has taken him around the world, where he has assisted in cellars in California, France, South Africa and New Zealand. He worked for a winery in Franschhoek for 5 years and received a 5-star Platter award for both his 2008 and 2009 MCC Blanc de Blanc and again in 2011. He has brought his new ideas and pursuit of excellence to the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and has become an integral part of the wine team over the past five years.
Their meticulous viticulture approach is based on the Burgundian principal of high-density planting with low yields from individual vines. 9000 vines are planted per hectare, one meter apart, in five rows. The sixth row is missing to facilitate maintenance of the vines and to avoid compaction of the soils. High density planting encourages greater surface of leaf exposure and restricts root growth, thereby improving fruit concentration, which is so essential to the making of truly great wines.
Their vine training system is “Double Guyot”. As practiced in Burgundy, green harvest takes place at veraison. Approximately 35% of the green fruit is picked and left on the ground, leaving the remaining 65% of the harvest to develop greater flavour concentration. Experienced pickers harvest the grapes by hand. The picking team moves through the vineyard up to three times, to ensure that grapes are picked at optimum ripeness and health.
The Winery and Cellars
The charming winery building, as depicted on the distinctive Bouchard Finlayson label, breaks from tradition. The natural climate control and colloquial feel of Cape Dutch come through in the thatched roof and the wide veranda. Old meets new at every turn. The production cellar contains stainless steel tanks. Everything happens on site – growing, picking, aging, bottling, labeling and packing – ensuring the same high standards of quality at every level. Total annual production is approximately 15 000 cases.
Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bouchard Finlayson achieved World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Conservation Champion status in 2011. They have earned a reputation as an environmental leader in the industry for their commitment to conservation, responsible production practices, integrated environmental management systems, and spearheading innovations in water, energy efficiency and climate adaptation. Their devotion to conservation has meant that only 22 hectares of the precious land is under vines. The natural indigenous Fynbos –the smallest and richest floral kingdom in the world – is being preserved in the interests of biodiversity. 330 species of Fynbos have been identified on the property to date.
Bouchard Finlayson is a member of the Hemel-en-Aarde Winegrowers’ Association, upholding the ethical code of Labour Practices in the area. The estate strives to provide a contented and healthy working environment for all staff. Continuous training opportunities are provided and staff attend courses to further develop skills that will accelerate their career paths and enhance personal growth of individuals.
In addition to contributing to the staff retirement fund, Bouchard Finlayson provides staff support by means of housing, water and electricity, children’s school tuition, healthcare and transportation to work. Recent additions to staff facilities on the farm include the construction of a new Recreation Room for their farm workers, which offers cloak rooms and a self-catering style cafeteria to use during breaks and lunch times.
Within the community at large, Bouchard Finlayson contributes on an ongoing basis every month to the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley Pre-school, as well as to Hermanus Rainbow Trust, which provides essential health, social and education services in response to the dire needs of poor and marginalised communities within the region.