De Wetshof Estate
A prime example of the new emerging South African wine industry
The first selection of wine comes from the viticultural region of South Africa, the Robertson Valley, which lies in the folds of the Riviersonderend and Langeberg Mountains, some 160 kilometers (under 100 miles) due east of Cape Town.
The wine is from the eminent De Wetshof Estate, a South African winery with a legendary wine history dating back to 1693, when the original De Wet family immigrated to South Africa. The present owner of the De Wetshof Estate is Danie De Wet, a multi-generation descendant who is considered to be South Africa’s premier maker of top quality Chardonnay. De Wet is a graduate of the heralded Geisenheim Wine Institute in Germany, long considered one of the world’s most celebrated wine schools. He has produced multitudes of award-winning Chardonnays that tend to be closely compared in style to the classic Chablis of France’s upper Burgundy Region.
The location of the Robertson Valley and its rich limestone base, less than 100 Kilometers (a little over 62 miles) from Agulhas, Africa’s southernmost point, is perfect for the cold-loving Chardonnay to flourish. The chilling currents from the southern oceans causes cooling winds to blow inland on summer afternoons, thereby freshening the vineyards and providing the Chardonnay with a much needed infusion of zest that nourishes the vines.
Map of the area
Breede River Valley
De Wetshof Estate is located in the “valley of vines and roses”, the Robertson district’s lime-rich soils make it suitable for racehorse stud farming and also, of course, for good wine. The construction of a major dam at the beginning of the century brought reliable and inexpensive irrigation and this led to the proliferation of Robertson’s many wine estates. Situated in the Breede River Valley region, the average annual rainfall is around 400mm. Although summer temperatures can be high, cooling south-east winds from the coast — less than 100km away — channel moisture-laden air into the valley. Today, Robertson is renowned for the quality of its wines and while traditionally considered white wine territory and known for its Chardonnays, it is also the source of some of the Cape’s most revered Shiraz.