Producer Profile: Ataraxia Wines

In 2004 Kevin Grant had left his previous job as a winemaker for Hamilton Russell and opened up his own winery with his wife Hanli. They bought 30 acres and planted their own vineyards with the help of family and friends. Their vineyards were situated in the Skyfields, in Hemel-en-Aarde. The beautiful area of Hemel-en-Aarde, which in Afrikaans means ‘Heaven and Earth’, was widely known for its cool climate and growing of cooler climate grapes, such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The memorable name ‘Ataraxia’ is a word from ancient Greece. The term was coined by the philosopher Pyrrho, meaning a ‘lucid state of robust equanimity characterized by ongoing freedom from distress and worry’. This is certainly how you feel while drinking their superb wine – free of concern.


Hemel-en-Aarde is home to many great wineries that produce Burgundian style wines due to the similar climate. Ataraxia is provided with a cool climate in comparison to other South African wineries due to is close proximity to the ocean. The vineyard is situated five miles away from the South Atlantic Ocean on the mostly southerly tip of Africa. Babylon’s Tower mountain range sits over the vineyard, so the vineyard is trapped in a little cool pocket with protection from the mountains and access to a cool sea breeze. This cool climate helps the grapes retain a sufficient amount of acidity and also a freshness of flavour. The spot that Kevin chose was known for being a poor spot for farming, which made it perfect for growing vines. Vines enjoy a hard climate to grow in, which provides that you grow the best quality grapes possible. The vineyard contains over 14 different soil types, including: Table mountain sandstone, Cape Granite, Bokkeveld Shale. The geology of this area is crucial to the growth of the grapes and how they present themselves within the wine. These soils give the wine nuances of minerality and a cleanliness to the palate. The way in which these characteristiscs are shown in the wine is all due to the wine making.

The owner of the winery, Kevin Grant, is the wine maker himself. As previously mentioned, before buying Ataraxia he was a wine maker for Hamilton Russell, another winery based in Hemel-en-Aarde. Already working within Hemel-en-Aarde really gave Kevin Grant the experience and knowledge of the area. Added to the experience of the area, Kevin has a diploma in Cellar technology and he also travels to different regions regularly, such as Burgundy, Oregon, Australia, New Zealand, to research their techniques and take part in harvest. Kevin is an advocate for minimal intervention wine making so he can show the pure expression of the soil. When in the winery Kevin is keen to retain freshness and elegance, with the wines being make in a similar style to Burgundy. For example, the chardonnay which they produce partially goes through malolactic conversion to retain freshness, is 100% barrel fermented with one third being in new oak. Then to finish it spends 10 months in barrel with bâtonnage (which is stirring of the lees). This makes the chardonnay concentrated and pure with fruit, with the elegance of a Burgunadian chardonnay.

Kevin and his team at Ataraxia have continued to impress and progress to become one of the top wine makers in South Africa. The Ataraxia Chardonnay 2013 was amongst the few South African wines awarded Gold at the 2015 Sommelier Wine Awards. And amongst all their awards they have also been recognized as a wonderful place to visit with a chapel as their tasting room. With currently one two wines and plans to buy more land, Ataraxia certainly has more to give.