Seven years ago, the dream was born when seven ancient vines were discovered in the prison garden on Robben Island. These vines grow where Nelson Mandela buried his handwritten manuscript of Long Walk to Freedom in the prison garden.
The Weltevrede Aansporingstrust, an empowerment trust of winegrowers who for generations have worked the vines and made wine on Weltevrede Estate outside Bonnievale, volunteered to be the custodians of the Robben Island vines. After three years of restoring the vineyard vintage, 2012 eventually yielded a crop. The historic wine is made and the first bottle is presented as a gift to Mandela for his 94th Birthday.
Robben Island is a geological outcrop of rock covered with limestone and broken shell fragments. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on all sides and 10km from the coastline, this island is a barren landscape, scoured by the ocean winds of the Cape of Storms. The members of the Weltevrede Aansporingstrust journeyed to the island and back on a regular basis to prune the vines, repair the trellising, manage the foliage and protect the resulting grapes. In 2012, the first crop of Robben Island was harvested and 182kg of grapes were shipped to the mainland and then taken to the winery at Weltevrede. The grapes were counted, documented, analysed and cooled down, where after the winemaking process started.
Two wines were created: a sweet dessert wine, called The Parable, and a Méthode Cap Classique Brut in magnums, called The Manuscript. Both these wines will only be sold at international charity auctions. The first bottle of The Parable was presented by the Weltevrede Aansporingstrust to Nelson Mandela for his 94th birthday.