The Wine of Origin Scheme. Cederberg Private Cellar is the only wine farm in the Cederberg ward. And do not confuse the commercial wine route system with the Wine of Origin classification system. A wine route is a commercial venture and has nothing to do with the Wine of Origin Scheme. Cederberg Private Cellar does not belong to a wine route and by law resorts under the Cederberg ward.

The Cederberg lies about 250 km north of Cape Town. This vast region encompasses approximately 162 000 ha of rugged mountainous terrain, stretching from the Pakhuis Pass behind Clanwilliam in the north, to Grootrivier in the south, towards Ceres. Forty six kilometres inland from the N7, between Citrusdal and Clanwilliam – with two mountain ranges separating the farm from the Olifants River – lies Cederberg Private Cellar on the farm Dwarsrivier. It is the highest wine farm above sea level in the Western Cape. In terms of the SA Wine of Origin (WO) Scheme, the Cederberg ward was proclaimed on 24 February 1978. There are 51 wards in the winelands of South Africa. Take note that Cederberg is one of a few that do not fall under any of the 18 districts or five regions. Why? Simply put, it all boils down to the terroir.

Terroir comprises four elements:
Topography, Climate (meso-, macro- and microclimate), Geology and Soil type.
The West Coast of South Africa is one of the regions with the lowest rainfall in the country. From Graafwater to Clanwilliam, the maximum average rainfall is 400 mm per annum, declining to 300 mm per annum in the Trawal/Koekenaap area. The Cederberg’s rainfall varies between 450 and 800 mm per annum. Cederberg Wines is situated in a unique climatic zone: it can be described as a cool Mediterranean climate, rather than a maritime or coastal climate. The average temperature during the day varies between 12 and 18 °C in winter, rising to 29,3 °C in January and 39,9 °C in February.

The farm Dwarsrivier, where the grapes for Cederberg Wines are cultivated, is situated at the foot of Sneeuberg Mountain, one of the highest peaks in the Western Cape. Sneeuberg is 2 026 m above sea level. Cederberg Private Cellar claims to have the highest vineyards in the Western Cape, at between 950 and 1 100 m above sea level. The soil types are well-drained on weathered shale/slate on the hillsides and high mountain slopes, with a higher clay content well suited to red cultivars. Yellow-brown soil of granitic origin with a high acid content needs to be manipulated before planting. Lightly structured soil with sandstone, well suited to white cultivars, abounds. There are also duplex soils with coarse sand on clay. The soil types belong to the Bokkeveld and Witteberg groups.

During harvest time only small amounts of grapes are harvested every day, never more than five tons at a time. In the morning harvesting starts at 05:30 while it is still cool, and continues until 09:00, before the heat of the day sets in. During the last 15 years the harvest has shifted from mid-February to the last days of January. Harvest time nowadays lasts until 20 April.

When speaking of terroir, we often ignore the significance of the natural vegetation. Were we to examine different areas in terms of the similarities of the natural vegetation and soil types, we might be able to form a better understanding of what to plant where. The Western Cape has six biomes and 18 veld types. Two biomes are found in the Cederberg, namely Fynbos and Succulent Karoo, with three veld types: Central Mountain Renosterveld, Mountain Fynbos and Lowland Succulent Karoo.

The Cederberg has a cool Mediterranean climate with winter rainfall and no coastal influences.

Spring and summer
Wind: Moderate north-west during the day; north-easterly winds at night
Rain: Very little, a thunderstorm here and there
Night temperatures: Late frost is often a problem during spring; average below 10 °C
Day temperatures: 28–33 °C

Autumn and winter
Wind: North-westerly
Rain: June to August: More than 650 mm
Night temperatures: Below 0 °C
Day temperatures: 10–20 °C

Cederberg Cellar