The magic of Zandvliet wines springs from a unique terroir

by Tia

“Zandvliet is the essence of a place in time,” says Jacques Cilliers, winemaker at the eponymous Cape estate. “It is the echo of history and everchanging influence of Nature.

“Fortunately for us, our vines adore it and it shows in the wine,” he adds.

For many, Zandvliet is the home of Shiraz. The wine estate was among the first in the country to bottle the noble cultivar. But Shiraz is not the only variety that thrives on the farm. It has attained a loyal following among cognoscenti who eagerly await every new vintage of Chardonnay and other classic offerings too.

The sprawling property straddles the Cogmans River, with the great Langeberg Mountains casting a broad arm around from the north and dwindling to the south-east. A small range of low limestone hills lies on Zandvliet’s southern half, bringing the special magic to its calcareous earth, or kalkveld, terroir. Only 130km due south lies the southernmost point of Africa – dynamo of the breezes that cool our hills in summer.

The key to its success with wine grapes is that calcareous Karoo soil with an underlay of red clay and pockets of chalky limestone, which feed the vines and deliver firm acidity, concentrated flavours and trace minerality that are delicately managed via the cellar, from vineyard to bottle.

And so it has been for centuries and continues to be with Zandvliet. Here, time-honoured tradition meets modern-day expertise to produce pure luxury in a glass.

Zandvliet’s excellence underscores its entire range of wines, but it is the Shiraz variety that is known as the farm’s brightest star. As such, it is presented to wine-lovers in three expressions – the Estate, Kalkveld and Hill of Enon.

Zandvliet Estate – the forerunner

Zandvliet Estate is the direct descendant of the farm’s first vintage of Shiraz, made in 1975. The first release however only came the following year.

Back then, the variety was relatively unheard of for individual bottling. Most Shiraz was employed in blends. The owners of the time knew their soils and that Shiraz would thrive.

Vines for this range are planted in a red weathered shale soil. It is rich in minerals, allowing the plants to grow and produce healthy bunches. Wines from these vineyards typically spend 20 to 24 months maturing in oak barrels, with the quality of fruit providing a complex wine with a soft supple palate.

Zandlviet Estate Shiraz may be matured up to 20 years from vintage.

Kalkveld – the beacon

The Robertson Wine Valley has some of the very few concentrations of natural limestone (kalk in Afrikaans) in South Africa’s winelands. Even that concentration is limited to a few farms, and Zandvliet is one of them. 

The Kalkveld range (literally translated as “limestone field”) hails from vineyards that grow on a hill that dominates the centre of the Zandvliet farm. The soils comprise a complex conglomerate of limestone, pebbles, and clay.

Further enhancing the character of its wines are the daily south-easterly breezes that serve to temper heat and ensure optimal, slow ripening of the fruit.

Its wines are refined and elegant with classic Shiraz characteristics. Like the Estate range, these wines continue to develop in bottle for up to two decades after vintage.

The Hill of Enon – the pinnacle

The Hill of Enon Shiraz gets its name from the geological formation created by the break-up of the Gondwana supercontinent of which Africa was once part. It is in these ancient soils that the vineyards for the Hill of Enon and Kalkveld wines grow.

The location is so defined on this part of the farm that it is preferred by colonies of termites. Where the Hill of Enon vineyards diverge from its companion range, are their location within the area. Hill of Enon grapes are harvested from vines whose roots are planted at the epicentre of termite mounds.

The pH here is at its highest and nutrients are limited. The vines work hard to grow vigorously.

“We had noticed that this stress resulted in smaller berries, but they were much more intensely flavoured. We decided to harvest them separately and Hill of Enon was born,” says Jacques.

 “The unique terroir produces extraordinarily small berries which ripen days before the main crop, so every year, about two weeks before the main harvest, we go out and do a small berry, hand-pick.”

Traditionally, the wines are made with 40% whole bunch natural fermentation with a daily punch down. After fermentation, a basket press is employed to gently drain the skins. The wine is aged in new French and American oak barrels for 18 months prior to release.

These excellent Shiraz wines may be tasted on the farm, located near the village of Ashton, off the R60. Zandvliet’s Kalkveld Lounge integrates contemporary décor with the farm’s proud heritage. It is open Monday to Saturday, from 11:00 to 15:00.

The Zandvliet Estate Shiraz retails for R160/bottle, the Kalkveld Shiraz for R299/bottle and the Hill of Enon for R547/bottle.

For more information, contact or visit Find and share your memories of the estate with ZandvlietWine on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and, as ZandvlietWines, on Pinterest.

You may also like

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!