In the design of Saronberg’s Cellar we considered a variety of production facilities and available techniques, looking to utilize existing technology in an innovative way. Hence we incorporated the force-cooling of grapes, intensive hand-sorting and the use of gravity during the fermentation process.
We essentially wanted a hands-on cellar that would provide the winemaker with many options, allowing him to focus on detail while adhering to our winemaking philosophy.
Our grapes are hand-harvested in the early morning and then rapidly force-cooled to 4° C in order to preserve fruit quality and flavour intensity. Saronsberg was the first cellar in South Africa to employ this technique. The grapes are hand-sorted on stainless steel vibrating tables manned by two teams of 25 people each for 20 hours a day at a rate of one ton per hour. Firstly we sort the bunches, then we do destemming. The individual berries are then sorted on the remaining two tables where all stems, green berries, raisins, etc. are removed before being gently crushed into a satellite tank. By using the satellite tanks to transport the crushed berries to the fermentation tanks we maximize the use of gravity and avoid having to pump the mash.
We use both open and closed fermenters with automatic temperature control. The fermenters are sized according to our vineyards and can hold anything from two to eight tons each, with the average yield being 4.5 tons per hectare (30 hl/ha). The grapes from each of the vineyard blocks are fermented and kept separately for 10 months until the blending takes place.
Most of the grapes undergo a cold soak prior to fermentation, after which the tanks are heated and inoculated with chosen yeasts. All the fermentation tanks are punched down, by hand, to extract flavour and colour. In addition, we do pump-overs or ‘délestage’ the tanks.
After fermentation, the wine may be left on the skins for extended skin contact. The elevated fermenters are emptied straight into the press and the juice is drained by gravity, usually straight into the barrel. Malolactic fermentation usually occurs in 300 litre barrels. The wine spends up to 18 months in the barrel. Where necessary the wine receives a light eggwhite fining before being bottled.
We use 95% French oak and 5% American oak barrels. Six different coopers’ barrels are used, each with a specific contribution to the desired flavour profile and structure of our wines.
This general process varies according to cultivar, desired wine style and terroir. At its conclusion, we entrust the wine to you for safekeeping until that special moment when you savour it on your own or enjoy it with good friends.
Some interesting facts about the cellar:
• We harvest about 400 tons of grapes, of which 70% red and 30% white.
• We bottle 15000 cases (180 000) bottles annually.
• Two ranges are produced: Saronsberg and Provenance.
• The Saronsberg range consists of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Shiraz, a
Rhone-style blend (Full Circle), a Bordeaux-style blend (Seismic), and a
• The Provenance range consists of Shiraz, Shiraz Rosé, a Bordeaux-style blend (Rooi), and a white blend (Earth In Motion).
• All our wastewater is treated in-house by means of a specialized treatment plant and recovered for use in the gardens and paddocks.
• We have dedicated cellars that are temperature controlled for malolactic fermentation, barrel maturation and bottle ageing.
• Bottling is done on the premises.
• All red wines are bottle-matured for a minimum of one year prior to release.