In The story of how Bellingham came to be (Part 1), we left off in the wake of extensive renovations and overseas forays on the part of Bernard and Fredagh Podlashuk to learn more about the art of viticulture and winemaking from some of Europe’s foremost experts in the field.
Running where angels fear to tread
As soon as the Podlashuks had the farm up and running, Pod immediately started making waves on the local wine scene. Not wasting any time, Bellingham released the Cape’s very first Rosé, the Bellingham Almeida Rosé, at a glittering event at The Café Royal in Cape Town in 1951. Then, in quick succession, followed Bellingham Premier Grand Cru (South Africa’s first dry white wine) in 1953, and Bellingham Shiraz (the country’s first single cultivar Shiraz) in 1957.
Not satisfied with merely introducing three new cultivars to the South African public, Pod then goes on to pioneer cold fermentation alongside NC Krone, Frans Malan and Gunther Brozel. He devises and recruits an engineer to build an innovative system that would become known as Pod’s Folly, but nevertheless blazed the trail for free-run cold fermentation in South Africa. WA de Klerk, in his book The White Wines of South Africa (1967), described the system as ‘a formidable line of compartmented receptacles that receive the fresh must from a small crusher, specially made in Germany, which first removes the stalks’.
Challenging custom & convention
The 80s and 90s saw vineyard developments, cellar extensions and the beginning of Bellingham’s classic new world winemaking philosophy. The turn of the century inspired a shift in the Bellingham portfolio and the winery goes on to produce South Africa’s first Rhône blend, Roussanne, Marsanne and ripasso-style Pinotage, among their other established varietals.
Long live the legacy
Today, Bellingham’s wines are in the hands of Niël Groenewald, another true innovator who has made a big impression all over the world with his engaging warmth, obvious passion and natural ability to educate and excite customers and consumers not only about Bellingham, but South African wine in general. Following the Bellingham tradition, Niël accentuates regional characteristics, sourcing grapes from specific sites, sculpting each wine’s varietal character true to its nature and expression.
Bellingham currently forms part of the illustrious DGB portfolio. Boldly exploring new territories in the fine art of crafting wine, the winery has received numerous international awards and garnered far-flung acclaim. This includes two handcrafted ranges, namely the Homestead Series and the flagship range, The Bernard Series.
Keep your eye on the Bellingham blog in coming months for more about the inspiration behind each range.