Etienne, George and their team have started planting 2 Hectares (5 acres) of Riesling and 2 Hectares of Pinot Noir, at our Casey’s Ridge vineyard in Elgin. These are both grape varieties that do best in cooler climates and should thrive there!
We took Gunter Brozel, one of the legends of the South African wine industry and designer of our cellar, to look at the farm just after we bought it. He immediately suggested that we plant Riesling on the coolest soils, located below the dam wall of the Kogelberg Hydroelectric dam.
We decided against Gunter’s good advice (he originally advised Paul Cluver re their pioneering Elgin vineyard development in the 80’s), as the South African regulations re ‘Riesling ‘ at the time allowed Crouchen Blanc to be called Riesling. This made a joke of investing in the real thing!
Fortunately, the regulations have been updated and we have been able to source the right planting material. The first Riesling and Pinot Noir blocks are being established on Table Mountain Sandstone (TBS). We plan to plant similar sized blocks on the shale soils along the ridge next year.
We expect the blocks to get into decent production around 2014/5. It generally takes two years longer for our Elgin vineyards to get into production, due to the more extreme soils and cool temperatures.
The Riesling vines selected are all clone VR239Z on Paulsen, while the Pinot oir vines are a 50/50 combination of PN115B on Paulsen and PN777B on Paulsen. We chose the Paulsen rootstock as we have found it to be most effective in the TBS soils around the dam.
The latest Google Earth coverage of the Casey’s Ridge area clearly shows the major difference in the 2 key soils types found on our farm. The TBS with high quartz content is clearly visible around the dam. A stream that runs down the property separates the TBS from the shale on the south-eastern section of the estate.
The map below gives an idea of the different vineyard blocks planted to date, with the hatched blocks still open. We still have a few choices left re additional plantings. The deciding factor will be the quality of the wines as the different vineyards get to mature production.