Now, here is where the plot thickens… Prof Abraham sadly died of a heart attack the same year that the first Pinotage was made, tragically never having the chance to taste it himself. De Waal was the bridge between Perold’s dream and the future of Pinotage.
On the other side of that bridge was a man by the name of P.K. Morkel. A nice and busy chap he was, completing his Viticulture and Oenology studies at the Stellenbosch University, playing professional rugby for Western Province and the Springbok team as well as teaching at an excellent school in Paarl. He eventually started farming at Bellevue on the Bottelary road outside of Stellenbosch on their family farm.
In 1953 P.K. Morkel wanted to plant a new block of Gamay noir, but unfortunately (some would say fortunately), he could not find supply of young Gamay grafting’s. He was recommended to plant this unknown, locally crossed Pinotage as the experimental wines from this varietal showed exceptional fragrance, a deep colour yet firm tannins and flourished in even sandy soils.
This brave step resulted in what was the first success story of Pinotage as a varietal with commercial value. In 1959 Morkel entered the handcrafted wine of his seemingly risky project into the South African Young Wine show. This is a wine competition where the young wines from the same vintage are judged to establish the best wines for that particular vintage. It was like the coronation of the Queen at Bellevue when that 1959 vintage of Pinotage was awarded as the best wine at the show.