The farm is in the middle of the fertile Winterton Valley. From your chair on veranda, your view will flow over the vineyards in front of you down to the large dam. This is followed by 3,000 ha of game farm where the sable roan and other magnificent creatures walk freely as they have done here for millennia. It is a tranquil scene that encourages thoughtful conversation.
“In life it is the blend that brings balance.” – Dewit Jones
The late afternoon coolness is the signal to go down to the river. The orange colours of the setting sun highlight the dramatic mountain to the west with the silhouette of Cathedral Peak a clear beacon to your gaze. The call of fish eagles and the smell of wildebeest completes the experience.
We are blessed with a unique terroir here in the central Drakensberg. The area is a summer rainfall area and active growth is from late September through to March. In this period we get 934 heat units with a high of some 32°C in January and February. The mountains with their sheer cliffs create anabatic and catabatic wind flows that send cool night breezes over the vines.
“Sometimes new voices have the most spectacular vision. It is uncluttered and organic.” – Karan Johar
The Vineyards are first-growth vines. The oldest vines were planted in 2007 with the latest planted in 2012. With some 25 ha of vines, we are a boutique estate with the following varieties that are growing:
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinotage, Pinot Noir, Petit Verdot and Sauvignon Blanc.
The Season starts with drip Irrigation in early September. Early selection of bunches is done with only one bunch per tiller left to grow. This limits production to about 7mt/ha. After this, the focus is on canopy management above ground and nutrition intake below ground. Clover is planted inter-row to reduce weeds, reduce chemical use, and fix nitrogen in the soil. Supplementary irrigation is given as required.
Every week every block is inspected and tended to ensure the vines are trellised and secure. From early February we follow the sugar content. The Merlot is the first and we start in the cellar when the balin count reaches 24 or higher. The harvest season climate has a big influence on the final quality so this is an anxious time for us. Every day is planned on the weather and possible late-season rains. The vineyards are through by the last week of March.
The Natural Side
Looking from the cellar you see Cathedral Peak towers out to the west. Turn a bit north and just beyond the vineyards you will see the flat crown trees announcing the transition to the Wildlife Area. This consists of 2 game farms with a total of 3,000 ha. The stream and lake form a natural barrier between the vineyards and the game area. A fence is in place to keep the bigger game from too much activity in the vineyards but you are sure to find waterbuck and other small game as you walk from the vineyards down to the river.
“A bird doesn’t sing because it has a voice, it sings because it has a song.” – Maya Angelou
Across the dam wall you will encounter over 28 species of game. These range from small duiker to tall giraffe and from nocturnal porcupine and bush-babies to sable and eland. The area is suitable to driving and walking. When in this section take time to sit still and become part of your surroundings. Smell the sweet wet grass in the early morning. Watch the dung beetles cleaning up studiously. Touch the rough bark of the long camel thorn trees, listen to the snort of zebra. Enjoy nature.