Weltevrede Biodiversity

We like to believe that when God created the world, he shaped the seas and the continents, sculptured mountains and valleys, cut out rivers and splashed nature with colour.

A patchwork of land
Then He took the off- cuts of his favourate places, knitted them together in a patchwork of colour that would become the terroir around Bonnievale in the Robertson Valley.

The most Biodiverse Place on Earth
The Western Cape in South Africa is the most biodiverse place on earth. The Western Cape hosts more plant species than the whole northern hemisphere of planet earth. Fauna and flaura rarely spotted in other places thrive at Weltevrede. The biodiversity is not even fully documented yet, but hosts an abundance of aromatic herbs and flowering gems. Our ancestors had a very descriptive way to name these plants, with names like pregnant onion, baboon’s toes, hairy nipples, voëltjie-kan-nie-sit-nie (little bird cannot sit), the latter obviously being an uncomfortable thorn bush. The more than 150 hectares of unspoilt nature hosts rare dwarf succulents living amongst the cracks of the shale rocks.

Wild Flowers in Time
Similarly, a period of thirty to thirty five years is normally the gap between generations. I have only one chance to plant a vineyard on one particular terroir in my lifetime, only one lifetime to get to understand my terroir better. At the sites where I am planting vines now, my father and grandfather planted vineyards when they were the same age. When you are part of a family estate you realise that you never truly own the land. You simply look after it in your generation. You get to understand your responsibility to build up the soil, to look after the heritage you leave behind. You get to know how small you are in the bigger context of life, that you are merely grass, like a wild flower.

A sense of Place

It is the love for our soil that opened our eyes to the biodiversity around us. The tapestry of soils resulted in a diversity of plant life around us. Similarly this diversity of soils offer diverse terroir with the potential of expressing individualistic wines. During my first years of winemaking at Weltevrede, my mission was to make wines that are world class and ambassadors of excellence for the Robertson Valley and South Africa. Some may say we were successful. Weltevrede started winning several awards at international competitions. Today my vision for the wines of Weltevrede has found new horizons. Instead of being merely excellent, the wines of Weltevrede should be a pure expression of the terroir in which it is rooted. Our wines should have personality dictated by the soil. It should have a sense of place.

The Feel for the Soil
Weltevrede has several assets that money can’t buy. One of them is family experience, the intimate sharing of the feel for the soil. Another invaluable asset is the soil itself. This anchor of Weltevrede, rooted in time itself, is the foundation of each vine, each flavourful grape berry and each resulting wine. Weltevrede is blessed with a variety of soil types. Although close in proximity to one another the soils of the vineyards of Weltevrede are dramatically different with abrupt change overs from the one to the next. There are seventy two unique vineyards on Weltevrede, some smaller than half a hectare. To generalise they can be categorised in three distinctly different soil types or terroir, namely broken shale rock, rust coloured limestone and alluvial soil.

Rusted Soil
The Robertson Valley is famous for its rust coloured soil on white limestone layers. The limestone banks are remnants of an ancient water table that dried up many years ago. Chardonnay vines on this terroir yield bunches with fleshy berries and rich intensity of yellow tropical flavours. The berries taste like peach, pineapple and sometimes even like passion fruit. When we ferment and mature this Chardonnay in French oak barrels for twelve months the Weltevrede Rusted Soil Chardonnay displays incredible depth and rich flavours of ripe orange fruit. Chardonnay from this terroir complements challenging dishes with rich flavours, like shellfish, curries and roast white meat.

Place of Rocks
When we taste the Chardonnay grapes from the vines planted on the broken shale slopes they taste juicy and fresh, with citrus-like flavours reminding of ripe limes and lemons. Situated higher up against the south facing slopes these vines bear small bunches with petite, flavourful berries. When fermented and matured for twelve months in French oak barrels it results in a complex, yet lively wine. The Weltevrede Place of Rocks Chardonnay breaks the mould. It has an individualistic personality in which it expresses citrus fruit flavours and intriguing minerality. Chardonnay from this terroir complements fish with lemon-butter sauce and Mediterranean dishes with sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and olives very well.

Bedrock Black Syrah

From vines rooted in solid rock a solid wine is born. The bedrock had to be broken to get these vines planted. Anchored in virtually solid rock, this Syrah (Shiraz) vineyard yields pith black bunches with black fruit flavours. Roots fighting their way deeper in this inhospitable terroir on the outskirts of Weltevrede result in tiny Syrah berries with inky colour and chunky extract. This Syrah is a wine with flavours of plums and other dark fruit complementing meat casseroles, venison and other red meat dishes. The Weltevrede Bedrock Black Syrah tells a story of beauty through hardships. It has a personality of solidity and integrity.

The Travelling Stone Sauvignon Blanc
Round quartzsite and sandstone arrived here many years ago, long before my great-grandfather started grapegrowing here in 1912. These white and ocre bolders came rolling from the mountains that enfold the Robertson Valley and settled here on Weltevrede. This terroir gives the grapes particular flavours of figs and herbs, with mint-like minerality developing flavours of gooseberries and asparagus with age. Weltevrede The Travelling Stone Sauvignon blanc complements most fish dishes, vegetable stir fries, salads and mild cheese dishes.

River's Edge
The southern boundry of Weltevrede is four kilometers of riverbank where the vineyards are fringed with ancient specimens of indigenous trees, like Wild Olive, Cape Beech, Karee and the Breede River Yellow wood, all growing on the river bank. These indigenous trees bear seeds and fruit attracting more than a hundred species of indigenous birds. The arms overhanging the cool, clean river also forms a habitat for fish to breed under. For this reason the river banks of Weltevrede has been identified as the ideal place to re-establish populations of the endemic Cape Whitefish, an endangered species that vanished from many Western Cape rivers decades ago. Weltevrede has formed the Edge of Life Fund, supporting these conservation projects together with projects focussing on the restoration of selfworth in people. The River’s Edge wines of Weltevrede contribute to this fund. In the River's Edge range there is the very popular River’s Edge Unwooded Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Shiraz and two blends, called Tricolore White and Tricolore Red.

Weltevrede is a member of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative.

Weltevrede Wine Estate