It is the Finlayson family’s firm belief that Stellenbosch has always been and will remain South Africas finest winemaking region.
Three generations of Finlayson’s have played an important role in the Cape’s modern wine industry.
David qualified as a winemaker at Elsenburg Agricultural College in Stellenbosch as Dux student and then proceeded to travel the world gaining winemaking experience at first in Australia (Peter Lehmann Wines) and then in France at the world-renowned Chateau Margaux.
In 2004, David bought the farm Woodlands, a portion of the original Edgebaston farm, in Stellenbosch and renamed the farm and wines Edgebaston as this was the area in England where his mother was born and raised in.
David oversees the daily management of the vines and winemaking with a direct hands-on approach. In recent years, Edgebaston managed 5* Platter with his “GS” Cabernet Sauvignon with his other wines closely following. For the Geelwal S.G.C., the challenge has been different since the grapes are grown in an uncharted environment. However, David nailed it by bringing an excellent and exclusive wine.
Born in Valais/Switzerland in the most prominent region of Switzerland for winemaking. Didier spent most of his days off school helping his parents on the vineyards. However, at 23 he left his parent’s home and moved to Geneva.
In 2011, Didier, accompanied by his wife Florbela and daughter Inês Aricia immigrated to South Africa to start a new adventure with the creation of the J-Bay Zebra Lodge, an up-market Country House. Not long after having established the lodge, Didier thought about growing grapes, but not until David Finlayson visited Zebra Lodge with his friend, Raphael Dornier, also a winemaker in Stellenbosch did the spark become alive.
David is always up for a new experiment in growing the wine industry in South Africa so he was ready to jump on the opportunity when Didier shared his dream of growing grapes on Zebra Lodge ground. The two D’s hit it off, and the rest is history.
Today there is a quarter hectare plot at J-Bay Zebra Lodge, it includes a mix of Chardonnay, Viognier, Grenache, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
In 2019, in its second year, we harvested enough grapes to make a full french oak barrel (300 lt) of which 240 bottles were exclusively reserved for J-Bay Zebra Lodge.
David managed to make a sublime blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon with black colour, a hint of blackcurrant and mocha. Though it would be best to drink in two years time why wait that long when the wine is good!
The name “Geelwal” is an Afrikaans word that means Yellow Hills. It was given to the farm in 1860 by Dutch people who planted their roots in the area. Therefore it made sense to Didier and Florbela to call the J-Bay Zebra Lodge wine “Geelwal”.
Leave the story behind and come enjoy the great wine of the Eastern Cape, the ZL Geelwal.