The home of vintage wines
Annandale is said to be the oldest farm in the premium red-wine producing Helderberg Valley. Governor Simon van der Stel granted the title to Jan Wismaar, the property’s first owner, in 1688. The farm was known as Brakelsdal until the early 1800s, when the then the owner fell in love with a girl from the Annan River Valley in Scotland, and changed the name of the property accordingly. A manor house built in the middle of the 1700s and a cellar which predates 1700 can be found on Annandale to this day, adding to the old world charm of the estate.
At the height of its production in the early 20th century, Annandale supported over 500,000 vines on about 100 hectares of land. After the Second World War, part of the Annandale property became a shelter for abandoned and abused horses and home to a riding school. In 1996 Hempies du Toit purchased the property and restored it to its winemaking roots, although the horse image on the Annandale logo still reflects this part of the farm’s heritage.
Grapes have been grown for over 315 years on this historic property. Set amidst the top wine-growing and wine-producing estates of South Africa, Annandale Wine Estate currently cultivates 45 hectares of Vitus vinifera, planted by Hempies over four years between 1996 and 1999. At present, Annandale focuses exclusively on growing red grapes and producing premium quality red wines. The following varietals presently thrive at Annandale:
- 20 hectares of cabernet sauvignon
- 12 hectares of shiraz
- 10 hectares of merlot
- 3 hectares of cabernet franc
For ten years prior to planting the vineyards, Hempies built up the soil at Annandale, principally by planting vegetables. Hempies further strengthened the soil with natural compost and organic fertilizer, consistent with the highest standards of environmentally friendly viticulture practices.
Annandale features medium density vine plantings but Hempies aggressively prunes the vines and thins the crop to produce low yields of very high-quality grapes per vine.
Bunches of grapes are hand-selected during harvesting to maintain quality. The entire maceration and maturation process is conducted on-site at Annandale Estate’s cellar according to the finest traditions of Old World winemaking.
These wines are a true reflection of dedication to the art of producing classical elegant wines reflective of the terroir and fruit of the vineyards. Annandale’s wines are made solely from grapes grown on the 65 hectares Annandale Estate situated in the scenic Helderberg Valley in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Climate and Sunlight
In winter, temperatures range from overnight lows of 4°C to daytime highs of 15°C. In summer, temperatures range from overnight lows of 19°C to daytime highs of 36°C. Average annual rainfall is about 75 cm per annum, which generally produces enough water for the vines to grow without resorting to supplemental irrigation.
Annandale’s vines benefit from an abundance of sunlight, particularly in summer months. Balanced by air movement that includes gentle late afternoon sea breezes that rise from False Bay to cool the vines, Annandale’s grapes benefit from a long ripening period that preserves their flavours and enhances their complexity.
Topography and Geomorphology
Vineyards are situated on westerly and southerly slopes on gently rolling hills ranging in altitude from 100m to 170m above sea level.
Geology and Pedology
Annandale’s vineyards are nurtured by deep, gravelly soil with decomposed granite sub-soils featuring optimal soil structure and soil texture for producing high-quality grape yields.
Annandale’s vineyards benefit from excellent dryland conditions, with water retention and drainage supporting shy-bearing vines that result in high-quality grapes and, consequently, high-quality wines.
About the Owner
Gerhard ‘Hempies’ du Toit us a well-known figure not only in winemaking circles, but as a world-class rugby player who made his test debut for the Springboks during the 1981 tour of New Zealand. He is still remembered as the scourge of the All Blacks scrum, surprising with his speed and agility on the field.
Hempies often says that he has red wine running in his veins instead of blood. His father was the winemaker at Alto Wine estate, and Hempies spent his childhood in the vines and in the cellar, absorbing the secrets of his craft at his father’s hand and nurturing a lifelong love of wine and winemaking. After studying oenology and viniculture at Stellenbosch University, Hempies took over the reigns as winemaker of Alto in 1983. When Alto was sold, Hempies bought Annandale wine estate, and the rest is winemaking history.