Tulbagh Terroir

Situated in the sleepy town of Tulbagh in a picturesque Cape Winelands mountain basin is the award-winning Saronsberg Cellar. Owner Nick van Huyssteen, dubbed a “serial entrepreneur” by The New York Times, purchased and combined two predominantly fruit-producing farms in 2002. While he wanted to continue running the farms as is (with 120 ha fruit trees and 80 ha vineyards), a fateful fire that destroyed a significant part of the land just three months later offered him a fresh start, and in 2003 he began planting vines – a process that continued for a decade, finally reaching completion last year. “We wanted to make wines that we feel best express Tulbagh,” says Van Huyssteen. “We didn’t want to adapt to market needs – we were just lucky that the market happened to love the true-toTulbagh wines too.”

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The state-of the-art cellar, built in 2003, was tailor-made to cater for the Saronsberg vineyards. A gravity system consisting of satellite tanks travelling by means of a beam-supported fixed lift system was created in order to avoid the need for pumping and the damage this incurs.

Saronsberg was the first wine farm in the country to implement a forced cooling method, in which the grapes are cooled quickly to very low temperatures before crushing and destemming in order to retain colour and flavour in the wines. Everything in the cellar is done manually, from the hand sorting to the traditional manual punch downs. “All of this takes longer,” explains Van Huyssteen, “but it adds quality, and nbso online casino reviews we are all about quality.”

 

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Similar hands-on care is taken in the vineyards. While all Saronsberg grapes are hand-harvested, this is just the tip of the iceberg. “In order to produce quality wine, you need to be in the vineyard,” says Van Huyssteen. “We have a high number of people permanently tending our vineyards, not just at harvest time but all year round, ensuring that each receives the necessary individual attention.” The practice of sustainable farming is also highly valued by Van Huyssteen and his team, and the vineyards are maintained by drip irrigation from mountain and river streams.

Saronsberg’s output is 70% red and 30% white. Shiraz is their main focus, with almost 50% of the vineyards dedicated to this. A wooded Viognier is their primary offering on the white wine side. However, the farms do play host to about 15 other cultivars, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay, to name a few. Much to the delight of Van Huyssteen, Dewaldt Heyns, winemaker at Saronsberg, has always loved Shiraz. “When I found him, it was like a dream come true,” he enthuses. Originally from the Swartland, Heyns’ approach to winemaking is unique.

The impressive art gallery at Saronsberg is another asset of which Van Huyssteen is equally proud. “I have been collecting art since I was a student, buying only from artists with whom I had formed a personal relationship,” he explains. “To make good wine is also an art, and I thought it apt to make my personal collection accessible to all who visit Saronsberg as a testament to both crafts.” Iconic works by the likes of Angus Taylor, Walter Battiss, Paul du Toit, Rina Stutzer, Johann Louw, Lionel Smit, and Colbert Mashile, adorn the gallery walls. Van Huyssteen, of course, knows them all personally.

Another great joy for Van Huyssteen is the herd of Nguni cattle that has found a home on Saronsberg. “It’s really hard to explain how lekker [nice] it is to have one’s own cows. They are really beautiful, and seem to be enjoying it here as much as I enjoy hosting them,” he laughs. For those wanting to take the scenic trip to Tulbagh to discover the many joys of Saronsberg, the option of making a weekend of it is available through the estate’s 16 one- or two-bedroom selfcatering cottages. Cosy and quaint, they offer easy access to the spectacular natural beauty (and more besides) on offer in the “Valley of Abundance”.