In 2005, Vrede en Lust purchased a new 90 hectare farm, Casey’s Ridge, in the southwestern part of Elgin. The farm is located next to a large water body and is only 12 km from the cold waters of False Bay and 14 km from Walker Bay.
Casey’s Ridge is 6-8 degrees cooler than the farm in Simondium, which makes it a perfect climate for those cultivars that don’t do as well in the warmer weather.
In addition, it will provide us with cooler climate reds that will complement the warmer climate reds from Simondium.
We installed 11 temperature probes on different slopes and locations on the farm in order to develop a deeper understanding of the different meso-climates on the farm (microclimates actually refer to the climates inside a canopy!).
The two distinct soil types on the farm are Bokkeveld shale and Table Mountain sandstone (TBS) with a significant quartz component.
The shale occurs along the ridge at the top and on the warmer slopes with the TBS along the Kogelberg hydroelectric dam and Palmiet River. The soils are deep and well drained.
The shale soils have gravel content of around 70%, which is really exceptional. The large water body next to and above the TBS soils helps to moderate the climate and ensure cooler daytime temperatures during the ripening period.
We have planted the bulk of the Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz on the TBS soils with the Chardonnay, Chenin, Semillon, Pinot Grigio and Viognier on the shale.
We are really excited about the prospects for Pinot Grigio in the cool climate.
We have planted 16 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc, 2 ha of Chenin Blanc, 2 ha of Viognier, 2 Ha of Pinot Grigio, 5.5 Ha of Shiraz, 8 hectares of Chardonnay and 2ha of Semillon in the first 2 years.
The 8 Ha of Chardonnay is managed on a long-term lease entered into with our Simondium neighbours, Rupert and Rothschild.
We have also planted 4 Ha of Sauvignon Blanc for La Motte on long term lease.
We planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot plus some more Shiraz in 2008.
We expect to end up with a total of about 60Ha under high quality vines by the end of 2012.
Etienne and his team have planted 2 Ha of Riesling and 2Ha of Pinot Noir in TBS spoils in 2010.
In 2011 we added 2 more Ha of each in the shale soils. We expect to see the first harvest of these grapes by about 2014.
Cape Biodiversity Initiative
Casey’s Ridge possesses some exceptional indigenous fynbos and fauna. It is located in the Kogelberg Biosphere, the first UNESCO proclaimed biosphere in Africa.
Vrede en Lust aims to rehabilitate those areas, which were previously destroyed to its original condition in support of the Cape Biodiversity initiative.
The Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve encompasses the entire coastal area from Gordon’s Bay to the Bot River valley and inland to Grabouw and the Groenland Mountain.
The Kogelberg Nature Reserve forms the largest part of the core area of the biosphere reserve.
This reserve, known as the “heart of the fynbos”, is home to an incredible 1 600 different plant species, making it one of the world’s richest sites of plant diversity!
Plantations, farms, local towns and industrial developments make up the transition zone.
In addition, numerous animals, including leopard, antelope, many birds, freshwater fish and smaller creatures occur in this region of natural splendour.