THE SCHAPENBERG – IDEALLY SUITED TO THE BIODYNAMIC CULTIVATION OF NATURALLY BALANCED GRAPES SITUATION
To many, the intensively farmed district around the town of Stellenbosch is the main wine-producing area in South Africa. Within the Stellenbosch wine growing region, there are various sub-regions, the Helderberg being the coolest, due to its close proximity to the ocean. It is one of the most visually dramatic areas in the Cape, with the Hottentots-Holland and Helderberg Mountain ranges creating a powerful backdrop against which the valley descends into vineyards and finally onto the scenic coastline of False Bay. Wines produced here are heavily influenced by cool sea breezes and ideal soil conditions. This allows for longer ripening periods, lower yields and all the associated benefits for the production of fine wines.
Waterkloof is situated on The Schapenberg , which is on the outer edge of the Helderberg sub-region, closest to The Atlantic Ocean. The farm is a scant four kilometres from the False Bay coast, nestled almost in the centre of the embrace of the Hottentots-Holland and Helderberg mountains.
ASPECTS AND TOPOGRAPHY
Waterkloof is 150m at its lowest point and 300m above sea level at its highest, boasting a myriad of different aspects and variations in topography. This diversity is regarded as an asset, providing several different terroir units. Cool south-facing slopes predominate, but eastern and western-facing slopes are also found, thus providing a natural, sheltered amphitheatre, with direct exposure to the cooling influence of The Atlantic Ocean. The absence of northerly slopes (which would receive more direct sunlight than our south, east and westerly ones), allows for a longer growing season, more complex flavours in the grapes and no sunburnt berries being bought into the cellar.
Our logo is of Boreas- the God of Wind, which represents the fundamental impact of the wind on the character of our wines. The prevailing south-easterly winds make windbreaks an absolute necessity. The wind, so often cited as a negative factor, can play havoc with the vines at flowering, but actually aids in concentrating flavours on Schapenberg grapes. The powerful (up to 130km/h) south-easterly wind keeps yields naturally low and it also means that pests and fungal diseases are almost unheard of. This in turn allows for the application of biodynamic farming principles. Meanwhile, the cooler south- westerly wind blowing in directly from False Bay serves to reduce daytime temperatures significantly during the growing season. This is a key terroir characteristic, differentiating the Waterkloof vineyard from those situated over the hills further inland, which have less direct exposure to the ocean
Shale-derived stony soils are found on the eastern side of the farm, whereas soils derived from granite are found in the western portions. There is also an intermediate group of soils along the contact zone between these two parent materials, where the upper layers consist of shale material and the subsoil is weathered granite. All soils on The Schapenberg are relatively low in fertility, again contributing to low yields and deep rooted vines- key attributes for producing fine wines.
Schaapenberg is increasingly recognised as one of the premier cool-climate growing areas in South Africa by various authorities, and has seen a great deal of investment. Waterkloof represents the last major opportunity for further vineyard development in the area, and we are passionate about our endeavour to create limited volume wines that can hold their own against ultra-premium wines both locally and internationally.