19 November 2007

Kerr Farm Delivers

I feel I already know Jaison Kerr (pictured right) when I see him standing waiting for Sue Courtney’s shocking yellow roadster to growl to a halt at Kerr Farm vineyard, but I have only met him via his blog where he has chronicled the life of his Pinotage vineyard.

Sue and I have come from lunch at a rather pretentious café at Soljan Vineyards and I’m keen to view Jaison’s vines, the stars of his blog. But first Jaison seats us in his garden by a brick pizza oven under a corrugated iron roof that loudly spangs as it expands and contracts when passing clouds block the bright sun. From the heat of the wood oven he slides out baked stuffed peppers on toasted ciabiatta. Tiny slivers of chile give a zing to the stuffing mix of cherry tomatoes, olives and capers and they are so deliciously fresh and flavoursome I wolf mine down, wishing that the executive chef and his brigade of cooks responsible for pre-assembled sandwiches, pre-cooked and frozen ingredients offered at lunchtime was here to taste some real food. “It’s a Jamie Oliver recipe I saw on his TV programme last week,” Jaison modestly says.

Jaison drives us through vine rows to the old vineyard. Pinotage was planted here in 1969 and, at 38 years, these are probably the oldest Pinotage vines in New Zealand*. But they are in poor health, finally succumbing to attack by ‘Lemon Tree Borer’, a moth pest whose tiny holes can be seen in the trunks of these venerable vines whose new leaf growth has withered yellowed leaves. “I’ll soon have to pull them up,” Jaison tells me.

Jaison bought the property in 1989, and moved the 1910 wooden farmhouse there on a trailer. The first vintage from Kerr Farm was in 1995; previously the grapes were sold to other wineries. The wines are made by Shane Cox at his winery.

Back in the garden Jaison opens some bottles. His 2006 vintage hasn’t yet been labelled so Jaison has written ‘P06’ on the bottle in silver ink. “I do this on bottles I bring to the tasting room, and soon customers were coming placing orders for ‘P01’ etc,” Jaison tells me. “So I decided to change the labels to match.”

Kerr Farm ‘P06’ Pinotage 2006 13.5%
This has been in bottle for six months and isn’t likely to be released for another six months. It is purple colour, with a fruity flavour of slightly unripe raspberries; it’s clean with good acidity and a crisp finish. “05 vintage was similar,” says Jaison, “The acidity just drops out.”

Kerr Farm ‘P05’ Pinotage 2005 13.0%
There’s a purple rim. The wine is light-bodied with redcurrant flavours; it is well balanced with a little acidity on a good finish.

Kerr Farm ‘P04’ Pinotage 2004 13.6%
With its dull browning-red colour this wine looks considerably older than just a year more from the preceding P04, and it tastes old with some funky tones. It is mature and losing its fruit. Jaison tells me that it is sold out at the farm. If you have any left in your cellar I’d suggest it is now time to drink up.

Jaison is a fan of Pinotage. “It has thick skins, proof against humid conditions,” he tells me. “Kerr Farm has built a reputation for Pinotage, and we are building up its reputation in this area.

Kerr Farm also produces a racy crisp Sauvignon Blanc and a barrel fermented, barrel aged Chardonnay. If you are in the Auckland area, don’t pass through without visiting.

*If you know of older Pinotage vines in New Zealand please contact me.

And this is the vehicle that Kerr Farm uses to deliver :)


  1. nide days! NINE DAYS! You keep us waiting nine days between posts!! You enjoying yourself or something??? :-)

  2. Hi Andrew

    Leaving each day at 7am and not checking into the next hotel until midnight is the cause of the gaps between posts.

    I am having a good time in NZ and learning a tremendous amount, and I do have found some Pintotage news, so keep checking and normal service will be resumed when time allows. FRom Queenstown in the southern island on NZ -- cheers!

  3. Anonymous06:20

    i love the delivery van!

    hope you having a fantastic time over there pete - a little envious I must say.