Robertson Vineyard Visits | Robertson Wine Valley

Our recent Media Terroir Trip to Robertson took us on an exciting journey showcasing the essence of the region’s unique soils and what makes the Robertson Valley so unique. Wine Valley Safari’s eye-catching zebra-striped Truck transported us around during our stay.

Johann De Wet from De Wetshof Estate, John Loubser from Silverthorn Wines, Philip Jonker of Weltevrede Wine Estate, and Hennie Visser, the Vinpro Representative for Robertson and neighbouring areas, all provided insights into viticulture, emphasising the importance of the soils, and the unique diversity defining Robertson.

Van Loveren Family Vineyards

Our first vineyard stop took us to Van Loveren Family Vineyards, offering breathtaking views. To the north the majestic Langeberg Mountain range unfolds, while to the south the Riviersonderend Mountains grace the landscape, with the meandering Breede River enhancing the valley’s beauty. Although two-thirds of Robertson feature gravelly, lime-rich, alluvial soils transitioning to red clay and Karoo soils, each vineyard retains its unique fingerprint, adding a touch of individuality and charm to this wonderful region.

Limestone, abundant in Robertson’s vineyards, boasts calcium carbonate, creating air pockets for loose soil and excellent drainage, benefiting robust root systems. This unique soil type yields wines with low pH and high acidity, ensuring freshness and impressive ageing potential, particularly enhancing Chardonnays with citrus notes. Healthy vines in limestone soils naturally age well, showcasing exceptional performance.

In contrast, gravelly soils in specific areas of Robertson foster wines with concentrated fruit flavours and refined tannins. These well-drained soils promote deep root growth, accessing essential nutrients and reflecting the region’s vibrant terroir. Clay soils support vine resilience during dry spells, resulting in wines that balance opulence and freshness. Winemakers value these soils for crafting wines of finesse and depth, revealing the true essence of Robertson’s terroir.

Did you know that the Robertson Valley has the most Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir in the country and they are also the biggest Cap Classique producing area using Chardonnays and Pinot Noir?

During summer, Robertson experiences the coldest nights in the Western Cape region. While cool-climate regions like Elgin and Hemel en Aarde Valley may have cooler daytime temperatures, Robertson’s nights are notably colder. Typically, between 3 and 4 pm, the south easterly wind sweeps through, bringing a cooling effect to the Robertson Valley. This breeze rejuvenates the vines during the cold nights, contributing to the freshening of the grapes.

The aerated soils in Robertson maintain a significantly cooler environment, and the white colour of the soil due to limestone content reflects sunlight, which enhances the cooling effect on the vineyards.

De Wetshof Estate

Our second vineyard stop led us to the prestigious De Wetshof Estate, celebrated for its exceptional range of Chardonnays. As we stood in the heart of their Bateleur vineyard, Johann and Hennie shared insights on vine care, Guyot pruning techniques and suckering practices which was very informative.

One fascinating aspect they shared was their unique approach to harvesting. They opt to leave the stems attached to the vines during mechanical harvesting, allowing the machine to gently shake the vines, causing only the ripe berries to detach while the stems remain intact. This meticulous method ensures that any undesirable berries, such as rotten or sunburnt ones are left behind on the stems, ensuring the utmost quality in their harvest.

The absolute highlight was a charming table set right in the heart of the vineyards, adorned with the finest Cap Classiques from the region. It was a moment of pure perfection, enjoying a glass of bubbly while taking in all that this valley has to offer.

Weltevrede Wine Estate

With our third vineyard visit we caught up with Philip Jonker. Weltevrede is a family-owned winery and they’ve been making wine since 1912, with their oldest vineyard planted in 1926. The Weltevrede wine brand started in the 1940s and got its official trademark in 1950. It’s one of the oldest South African wine brands still run by the same family. Weltevrede only specialises in Chardonnay and Cap Classique wines only.

Philip Jonker, the 4th generation owner and winemaker, is passionate about making top-notch Chardonnay. The name ‘Weltevrede’ means ‘Well satisfied’ in Afrikaans, and they want every customer to feel content when they enjoy a bottle of Weltevrede wine. Weltevrede Estate is blessed with great terroir and the geological map shows its diversity of soils. Most of the are located on cooler south facing slopes, exposed to the prevalent southeastern breeze.

Calcrete Chardonnay refers to the white deposits of limestone in the soils. Like Chablis in France, Calcrete can’t be produced anywhere else and can only be approved by wine estates who have proved over decades to have presented Calcrete Chardonnay in its stylistic singularity. Minerality is the descriptive word to express that tight purity. It’s elegant, linear, radiant, bright and vibrant, a white wine of brilliant clarity and refreshing minerality.

Philip took us to the middle of the vineyard and shared insights about the soil, which is a mix of shale and limestone. He explained that because of the limestone, the soil is always crumbly and acts like a sponge, holding water and releasing it as needed. The highlight of the day was him digging out a bottle of Weltevrede Calcrete Chardonnay that he stashed away as a surprise. It was the perfect way to showcase the essence of Chardonnay and Calcrete in the vineyard. We all enjoyed this delightful wine while enjoying the picturesque surroundings with wonderful memories of a wonderful Media Terroir Trip, on behalf of the Robertson Wine Valley.

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