The renowned Cape Winelands might soon welcome a new wine route in the Cape Peninsula, thanks to the establishment of Kommetjie Vineyard Estate (KVE).
Gerhard van der Horst, managing director of Red Cliff Property and owner of Imhoff Farm recently planted 1.5 ha of vineyards on his farm (with another 0.5 ha to be added in future phases). The farm boasts magnificent panoramic views of Long Beach, Chapman’s Peak and Hout Bay.
This will be the country’s newest vineyard, with many others in the winelands having heritage that dates back centuries. It will welcome wine enthusiasts to the Cape’s Southern Peninsula, adding an additional and alternative wine route to the usual offering.
Imhoff Farm is a historic farmstead situated outside Kommetjie on the Cape Point tourism route. Vineyard production is set to begin production in 2022, with one of the best views in the Cape Peninsula. We spoke to Gerhard as well as consulting viticulturist Hendri Burger about the idea behind planting vines in Kommetjie.
Q: The thinking behind planting vineyards in Kommetjie?
GH: Imhoff Farm has a strong agricultural heritage and although we are rejuvenating the farm, we wanted to keep the landscaping agricultural and productive. Imhoff Farm has been in my family’s care for over a century and the sensitive regeneration of the land includes additions to the werf, stables, farms stores and later a residential and commercial component. It’s already a popular tourism destination and the addition of vineyards means we will offer more to our visitors and local patrons.
Q: What’s the terroir like and what style of wine and/or grapes can we expect?
GH: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for an MCC and a Shiraz for a single variety red. Maybe a single variety Pinot Noir or Chardonnay, depending on the flavour profile and quality of the grapes. The position of the vineyards make it ideal for cultivars such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Its north-easterly slope will further encourage ripening and salt from the sea breeze will enhance the minerality expected from the wine. The north facing vineyards also has a block of Shiraz planted as a single varietal wine. Shiraz is a family favourite among the Van der Horsts. The cool ocean breeze, salty air and moderate day temperatures should provide a truly unique style of wine that could put Kommetjie on the map when it comes to the wine industry. The variances in the soil in the area coupled with its unique climate should make for excellent grapes. Sand and rock on clay is prominent and Imhoff has prominent wind factors in the form of the South Easter and North Western. Both these winds are responsible to bring cool air form the False Bay and Atlantic sides respectively. Although the winds can cause damage they are also beneficial as they dry out the area and cause less risk of fungal diseases.
Q: So you’d classified the region as a cool climate?
GH: Initial thinking was for cultivars which grow fairly early in the season to avoid the damaging November winds together with the idea of a quality pink MCC and Shiraz as the red varietal grows earlier than others.
HB: We have a moderate climate in the valley, so with careful practice we could farm both cool and warm climate cultivars. The moderate climate in the valley is perfect for both varieties, however Shiraz also works well in warmer regions, but then loses some character unique to the Shiraz variety. Shiraz is a strong, fast growing variety that sets earlier than most varieties of grapes. Chardonnay sets even earlier than Shiraz. The idea is to have them set before the heavy south-easterly winds in mid-November and to stay on top of canopy management during the grow season to ensure optimum quality and flavour profile.
Q: There’s a long-term vision to establish Kommetjie as a wine route. Is this viable?
GH: Yes, if Imhoff Farm, the planned Kommetjie Vineyard Estate (KVE) and hopefully other small scale opportunities in the area use slightly different methods and styles, it’s possible. There are already other vineyards in the valley producing very unique wines, so we reckon a wine route in the valley could be feasible. It’s on the popular Cape Point tourism route so the feasibility of wine destinations and a route is there.
Q: Any specific viticulture techniques that different to the rest out there?
HB: We are applying the stok-by-paaltjie method (or at least, our version of it …). I have had the opportunity to farm with stok-by-paaltjie in the valley and have tweaked it a bit to suite the conditions here.
Q: Who will produce the wine?
GH: We have not decided yet …
Q: What do you foresee for the region in the future?
GH: The addition of vineyards at KVE will provide more scale for the region which is already a popular tourism destination for locals. We are positive that growing Kommetjie as a wine destination will support the attractions of beach, ocean, mountain and lifestyle the valley offers. It is a lesser explored region and we have a responsibility to create sustainable businesses and job opportunities in the valley. A wine route can do this – creating agricultural jobs with the larger impact of growing tourism and business.