If you have been active on social media, you must have seen the beautiful pictures of Leleshwa winery. They did a bunch of tours late last year and people would go to the wine farm as well as the winery.
You know Kenya lies smack on the equator. People said that no vines would grow in the equator because vines need a mix of so many things. For example, if you look at the wine farms of South Africa, they do well because they have the air currents that come from the sea in the Southern Hemisphere, the climate, soil and terroir are great. In Kenya, we do not have any strong current influences because we are on the equator.
The owner of the farm would visit his friends in Europe and they would gift him a bottle of wine from their farm. This happened many times and he wondered whether he could do the same. He asked himself whether vines would actually grow in Kenya. Many people told him that this was not a good idea but he decided to plant vines all the same. He had a farm in Morendat Farm in Naivasha and he planted the first vines in the early 90’s. In the beginning, he made wines for his friends and family and had never had the idea to go commercial. His aim was about 100 bottles a year and after some time, he saw that he could sell the wine after people had tasted and liked it.
The farm is at a high altitude area and it is very hot during the day. It also surprisingly gets these air currents that are all good for vines. In fact, they have won awards for their wines. They are now spreading the idea of the “New Latitude Wines”.
In December, I went to the vineyard on a group trip and we had so much fun. We met the winemaker Emma Nderitu who explained everything from viticulture to winemaking. We walked in the vineyards and had a very delicious picnic. We then went to the winery for an in-depth training on the winemaking process. We tasted some wine and we then walked to the field for late lunch.
The grape varieties they planted were Shiraz, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc among others. Their rose was very delicious and easy drinking and we had it with some fruit and light foods at the picnic. During lunch, the first wine was the Sauvignon blanc which we paired with a light salad. So much thought went into the food pairing. We then enjoyed more food and dessert which included macadamia covered chocolate and sorbets. I will review the wines in subsequent posts.