The Stony Brook story starts in the late 1980s when the McNaught family fell in love with Franschhoek and purchased a piece of land with a plan to create premium-quality wines reflecting the area and the styles of wine they most enjoyed. In 1995, the McNaughts sold their first farm and purchased an old fruit farm, now called Stony Brook.
The McNaughts replanted the farm to vines and built a small cellar. Their focus was on Cabernet Sauvignon, Semillon and Chardonnay and they began to produce the first wines under the Stony Brook label.
By 2011, Craig McNaught joined his parents at Stony Brook and took over as winemaker.
The farm is peaceful and quiet, tucked away in the bo-hoek region of Franschhoek. "It's a magic little area," said Craig when we caught up with him recently.
Stony Brook maintains an old world winemaking philosophy.
"I think we're old world at heart, very much old world at heart, taking a lot of inspiration from specifically Spain and Italy in terms of winemaking. Our SA climate is much more like Spain or Southern Italy than France."
"While our approach to winemaking is traditional, our outlook on planting and assemblage is an exploratory one, allowing us to find a unique way to express our soils, climate and remarkable site in Franschhoek. We take the best of what we can plant and we plant it. We handle all the grapes with a lot of respect. We're just trying to make age-worthy wines."
Stony Brook's latest development has been the introduction of Tempranillo vines. The result is their critically-acclaimed wine, Ovidius, created with Tempranillo alone and a real delight to drink.
Stony Brook produces a wide range of low volume wines.
Their red wines are not very fruit driven, unlike what you would expect from many SA reds. This is largely due to the maturation process. Craig's winemaking style is more Italian, a little more rustic. All varieties spend at least 28 months in barrel but the oak is not there to add flavour. It purely adds structure. To maintain the character of the wine, sulphur is only added after a year.