Soil

The entire farm consists of low potential vertical shale soils, also known as Schist in Europe.

The entire farm consists of low potential vertical shale soils, also known as Schist in Europe. Due to the tectonic collision 540 million years ago, the sedimentary layers of shale lie vertically. This allows for the soils to drain well. 300 mm of topsoil, then a thin layer of clay and then the vertical shale. The small amount of clay between the topsoil and shale helps to retain moisture.

The preparation of the soil before planting is critical to allow the roots to grow - a huge D9 bulldozer deep rips to a depth of 1.5 metres to break up the shale. Drainage trenches are then dug at the bottom of each block to drain all excess winter water away from the vines. Without proper drainage, the vines can suffer from root rot caused by too much water in the root area while the vine is dormant.

The water retention of shale soils is quite low. In the growing season, after an irrigation or rainfall of 25 mm, 5-6 days later the soil will be completely dry. This offers tremendous advantages for quality grapes in that we can only irrigate each block when we require growth, or restrict the moisture in the soil to produce small fully concentrated berries and bunches.

Another excellent property of our shale soil is that the wine produced has a low ph, resulting in wines that age very well. Our "low potential" shale never produces  more than 5 tons of grapes per hectare.

Rijks
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