Silverthorn Wines | Robertson Wine Valley

Based in the Robertson Wine Valley, located on a shale ridge that overlooks the Breede River, is where you would find Silverthorn Wines.

Silverthorn Wines is renowned for its exceptional focus on producing premium Cap Classique, showcasing the unique terroir of the region and capturing the essence of elegance and sophistication in each bottle.

During a recent Media Terroir Trip to Robertson, we visited Silverthorn Wines and had the opportunity to spend the morning with John Loubser. He provided valuable insights into Robertson, discussing its terroir, soils and what sets Robertson Chardonnays apart.

Silverthorn Farm, originally purchased by John Loubser’s father in law in 1976, was officially taken over by John and Karen in 1999. Initially named Welmoed, a change was necessary due to the existence of another Welmoed in Stellenbosch. The new name had to meet two criteria – it had to be an English name for global marketing ease and have a connection to Africa. Inspired by the Acacia karroo, known as soetdoring in Afrikaans, with its striking white thorns, Silverthorn Wines was born. This tree, abundant in Southern Africa, sheds its leaves in winter, leaving behind its shimmering silver thorns, especially striking when mist envelops them.

The Green Man

As Silverthorn Wines is named after a tree, they explored ideas like the Green Man and the forests for their label. The Green Man is an ancient mythical figure representing the spirit of the forest. He has appeared throughout the ages from as far afield as ancient Babylon, India, Borneo and Nepal, to abbeys and cathedrals all over Europe. He manifests in many forms, most commonly as a semi-human, foliate head, representing the fusion of man and nature. The concept was fitting for Silverthorn’s Green Man Cap Classique because Chardonnay is a green grape, and vineyards shed their leaves in winter before budding in spring. The label itself is very forest like.

Robertson Climate

We often think of Elgin or Constantia when it comes to cool-climate areas. However, did you know that Robertson is also a cool-climate region despite being inland? During summer, Robertson experiences high temperatures reaching up to about 35 degrees Celsius. However, the south-easterly winds from Agulhas blow into Robertson daily at 3:30 pm, cooling down the area significantly. This cooling effect brings the temperature down from 35 degrees to around 15 degrees.

In winter, Robertson often experiences temperatures as low as -3 degrees Celsius, resulting in widespread frost. In comparison, the coldest temperature recorded in Constantia was 4 degrees Celsius. Due to Robertson’s dry and cold winter climate, the vineyards go into dormancy and in general the vineyards last forever. The oldest vineyard in Robertson is 40 years old and still thriving, showcasing the region’s longevity and suitability for grape cultivation.

Silverthorn Green Man 2021

Silverthorn Green Man 2021 is a Blanc de Blanc made primarily from Chardonnay grapes sourced from three vineyards aged 32, 28 and 27 years old. This Cap Classique offers a nose characterised by minerality alongside hints of baked apple and roasted almonds. It boasts a well-balanced profile with an elegant structure, fine mousse that delicately explodes with bubbles on the palate with a lingering finish.


The Green Man vineyard boasts pure shale and limestone, crucial components of its terroir. Terroir encompasses various factors like climate, elevation and aspect, but soil composition stands out as paramount. Did you know that South Africa boasts ancient terroir? The shale soils within Robertson, known as Bokkeveld shale, are approximately 400 million years old, and this entire region was once submerged under the sea. The shale and limestone in Robertson vary across different areas, adding complexity to the terroir.

Another fascinating aspect of Robertson is the river’s positioning, which significantly influences the terroir. Robertson accounts for about 26% of South Africa’s Chardonnay plantings, with each vineyard showcasing its unique character. Regarding Cap Classique wines, most Cap Classique Chardonnays come from Robertson.

In 2019, John shared that they explored the mountains between Robertson and McGregor and discovered ancient trail fossils. These fossils reveal ancient mud sediment where small creatures or worms left their trails, which later solidified into rocks.

Silverthorn Green Man 2018 & 2014

We also tasted the Silverthorn Green Man 2018 and 2014, showcasing the ageing potential of Chardonnay from Robertson.

Initially, the younger vintage exhibits notes of white fruits like apple, quince and pears. With ageing, it develops smoky and mineral characteristics. The Green Man 2021 aged for 26 months on the lees, while the 2018 vintage spent 16 months on the lees. Extended lees contact contributes to a creamier texture. The 2014 vintage elegantly showcased how a Blanc de Blancs matures over time.

Walking Tour

The Colombard on the other side of the canal is about 40 years old and some of the other Colombard vines are about 30 years old. These grapes contribute to their Cap Classique wine named River Dragon. If you gaze towards the Riviersonderend Mountains in the distance, you’ll notice the silhouette resembling a dragon. This River Dragon Cap Classique undergoes a unique process as 60% is tank fermented, and the rest is fermented in Acacia barrels, unusual in Cap Classique.

As we stroll along, the rocks found on the farm consist entirely of shale and limestone. The entire ridge is composed of pure shale and limestone formations.


We were very fortunate to view their newly renovated luxury self-catering guesthouse on the property, known as The Dog Star Manor. Formerly an old farm cottage, it’s now a stunning retreat for relaxation and unwinding, situated right on the banks of the Breede River, offering breathtaking views. Whether it’s winter or summer, it’s the perfect place to escape and enjoy with luxury at its best.

Interesting fact: South Africa produces approximately 10 million bottles of Cap Classique each year. In comparison, Champagne produces around 320 million bottles of champagne annually. That is a lot of bubbles!

Contact Details

Tel: + 27 21 7881706

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