Alheit Vineyards: Stories

Chris & Suzaan Alheit are a husband and wife team that have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for the wines of Europe. In their winemaking, they strive to apply lessons learned in Europe to what they do in the Cape. Alheit is based on Hemelrand, a beautiful mountain farm situated high on the Hemel & Aarde Ridge in Walker Bay. The Alheit’s aim is to make white varietal wines that have a fine form and are not bulky. The result is finely crafted wines with ample power, but no excess weight. Grapes are whole bunch pressed. No enzymes, sulphur or yeast are used. The grapes undergo natural fermentation in old barrels with no new oak used. The wines are not racked and stay on the lees for 10 months. No fining, and filtration is used only if absolutely needed.

Year Founded: 2011

Proprietors: Chris & Suzaan Alheit

Size of property: 21 ha of dry land bush vines; Amount of property planted: Skurfberg (5.5 ha), Perdeberg (3.5 ha), Bottelary Hills (4ha), False Bay (1 ha), Botrivier (1ha), Franchhoek (2ha), Hemelrand Farm (4ha)

Terroir: A mountainous place on the West Coast, officially called Citrusdal Mountain.

Perdeberg: A granitic mountain in the Swartland, where the soil is a very poor granitic sand with a clay subsoil. This soil is outstanding for dryland Chenin, yielding very bright wines with remarkable concentration.

Bottelary Hills, Stellenbosch: Radio Lazarus vineyard is at 400m above sea level on mostly shale soils with some granite intrusions. It is the second highest vineyard in the Bottelary Hills.

False Bay: This vineyard is Bushvine Chenin planted in 1978 on decomposted granite directly overlooking False bay. You can see the waves breaking from this vineyard.

Botrivier: planted in 1982 on heavy sedimentary soil. The wine has a noticeable dark, almost meaty character.

Franchhoek: The La Colline vineyard (Alheit’s only Semillon Vineyard) was planted in the 1936, 320 meters above sea level on a gentle southern slope. Soils are decomposed granite, sandstone and quartz. Around 10% of these old bushvines are the local mutation knows as Semillon Gris.

Hemelrand Farm: This is where Alheit is based. The farm is very cool and windy. Drawing inspiration from the great white wines of Languedoc and Rousillon, the vineyard is planted to 40% Chardonnay, 30% Rousanne, 13% Verdelho, 12% Chenin blanc, 3% Viognier, 2% Muscat. Soils are very light, sandstone and gravel over clay.