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Craven Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2020


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This year Mick received nearly double the fruit (up from 1.2 tons last year) from this vineyard in Polkadraai, Stellenbosch. Located on the more moderate western side of Stellenbosch, this site was planted in 1999 on decomposed granite and clay and is known for reaching ripeness at low alcohol. Fermentation was partially whole-cluster (unconventional for the grape variety) in open top tank. After a short time on skins the wine was pressed off into neutral 225L barrel. I was really attracted to the enchanting nose with notes of red and black berries, some attractive leafiness plus violets and a little undergrowth. Medium-bodied with good freshness and a nice long, dry finish.
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Mick and Jeanine Craven met in Sonoma in 2007 where they both worked with a slew of producers from thee Then New California Wine camp. When it was time to strike out on their own path, Mick, an Aussie and native South African Jeanine decided to move and work on the exceptional land of Jeanine's family in the Jewel of South Africa's wine crown, Stenllenbosch.

Stellenbosch shares many attributes with the Napa Valley. It sits atop exceptional soils (some of the world's oldest), has a history of cultivating many varieties as well as ridiculously ideal weather for viticulture. Also like Napa, Stellenbosch went through Parkerization in the 90’s. Enamored with new technologies and the dream of making high scoring wines, producers started knocking out rich and powerful wines that almost universally masked the qualities that make Stellenbsoch so special; soils that are among the world's oldest with temperate weather and a whole lot of sunshine. In the right hands, this translates to wine that is complex and layered yet retains fresh and nervy qualities. Undergirding everything is a streak of minerality that speaks to soils that formed over 50 million years ago.

In 2011 Mick and Jeanine started Craven Wines in order to use their formidable experience to harness these natural gifts. 2014 was their first commercial vintage. They quickly established themselves as Stellenbosch revolutionaries, becoming key members of the Zoo Biscuits collective, a group of like minded indie winemakers that have helped bring the world’s attention to the exceptional quality of The New South African Wine for lack of a better term.

Doing less often means knowing more and their hands off approach requires them to be very tuned in to the land. The duo knows their vineyards intricately, and craft only single-vineyard wines, picked early and respectfully to best reflect site and vintage. They use no cultured yeasts, enzymes or fining agents, allow the wines to stabilize naturally, and utilize only older oak and larger format barrels whenever possible. A minimal amount of SO2 'which is our friend' is the only addition, and the wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered.

The wines are beautifully tailored with structure that never gets in the way of pleasure. Filled with a vibrancy throughout the many unfolding layers are testament to the mid to low vigor soils that allow for highly concentrated, perfectly ripe fruit with lower sugar levels thus making wines relatively light in alcohol.

These are wines that are immensely lovable upon release but a few years in the cellar certainly wouldn’t hurt. It also doesn't hurt that they are less expensive than many wines of this quality coming from the Western Cape.


  • Grape Variety

    Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Vintage


  • Size


  • Farming Practice


  • Style

    Earthy , Fruity , Minerally

  • Sweetness


  • Body

    Full Bodied

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