Since 2018, Springfontein has had what is reverently called a “Monopole” in Burgundy: an appellation “on its own” called Springfontein Rim This shows that our vineyards, even situated within Walker Bay, an inherently particular coastal wine district of South Africa, are a very special piece of land on its own, which in its growing conditions differs significantly from those of the well-known Cape Winelands, but also from those of our Kleinrivier neighbours. When we started to develop the farm almost 25 years ago, established players in the South African wine industry whispered to us that, unlike everywhere else, we could produce “good vinegar” on Springfontein. Yes, indeed, on Springfontein we are allowed to work with a very special terroir – a terroir that, through its cool microclimate, its sparse alkaline limestone soils, its hydrological and biological uniqueness, is precisely: just unique.

The Microclimate

The chain of the Kleinrivier mountains, which rises from zero to 1,000 thousand metres on our northern site and is therefore the first obstacle for the weathers entering the African continent from Antarctica, gives us an extraordinary high number of days when the sky is overcast, with temperatures not exceeding 26°C even in our summer. Furthermore, the amount of rain and its distribution within the year is almost the same as in Bordeaux. The nights, marked by the cold Benguela current of the ocean, ensure a high temperature amplitude in the daily rhythm. In addition, there is an almost constant breeze. So we can rely on a microclimate that is more similar to the one of the French Medoc than to the warm or even hot conditions of the traditional Cape Winelands where the ripening of grapes there takes much less time than in our case. However, on Springfontein we are able to synchronize the desired sugar content of the must with the physiological ripeness of the berries, especially of their pips, skins and stems. In addition, the must experiences a special aroma density and aroma variety, supported by the outside temperature’s day-night variations. And finally, the wind keeps our vine rows healthy and makes them hardly susceptible to mildew, which almost completely spares us the application of fungicides.

The Microclimate

The chain of the Kleinrivier mountains, which rises from zero to 1,000 thousand metres on our northern site and is therefore the first obstacle for the weathers entering the African continent from Antarctica, gives us an extraordinary high number of days when the sky is overcast, with temperatures not exceeding 26°C even in our summer. Furthermore, the amount of rain and its distribution within the year is almost the same as in Bordeaux. The nights, marked by the cold Benguela current of the ocean, ensure a high temperature amplitude in the daily rhythm. In addition, there is an almost constant breeze. So we can rely on a microclimate that is more similar to the one of the French Medoc than to the warm or even hot conditions of the traditional Cape Winelands where the ripening of grapes there takes much less time than in our case. However, on Springfontein we are able to synchronize the desired sugar content of the must with the physiological ripeness of the berries, especially of their pips, skins and stems. In addition, the must experiences a special aroma density and aroma variety, supported by the outside temperature’s day-night variations. And finally, the wind keeps our vine rows healthy and makes them hardly susceptible to mildew, which almost completely spares us the application of fungicides.

The Soil

The limestone soil on which our vines grow is limited to a small, lentil-shaped parcel of land, which geologically belongs to the Waenhuiskrans and the Klein Brak formation within the chalk-dominated Bredasdorp Group. It ends in the northern “front” part of the farm just where the Klein River is flowing through, while in the southern, uncultivated “back” part it extends only a few metres beyond our border. Our meagre alkaline ground is surrounded by the fertile, acidic lands of the Cape region’s other winegrowing parts, which are characterised by weathered granite and partly also by clay slate, on which the Constantia, Swartland, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl or Tulbagh vineyards were planted, but also those of all our neighbours in the Kleinrivier valley. Calcerous soils, with their frugality, often limit yields naturally; we do not need to reduce them artificially. Calcareous soils, by their alkalinity, produce fruit with natural acidi-ty; we do not have to use industrially produced tartaric additives, as is all too common else-where. Calcerous soils create healthy crops that allow us to achieve the lowest possible sulphurization. And finally, limestone, due to its brightness and their comparatively low heat storage capacity, help us to achieve long ripening periods.

The Hydrology

But also from the hydrology, Springfontein has preferred conditions for viticultural use. Our lentil of calcareous sediment has a water-impermeable bedrock section of the Bokkeveld Group’s Ceres offshoot, embedded in a triangular depression which tapers to a point in the direction of Stanford and is bounded to the north by the Kleinrivier Fault, to the south by the Akkedisberg-De-Kelders Fault, both with the magmatic-metamorphic Table Mountain Group behind. At the chalk lentil’s rim, e.g. at Springfontein’s entrance gate, there are large boulders of this section. Between the Bokkeveld bedrock and the Springfontein’s limestone lies a groundwater reservoir of enormous dimensions, which is partly fed by the Nardouw Aquifer from the southwest, but mainly by the Stanford Aquifer. Studies estimate the potential of this reservoir, i.e. the inflow minus the natural or anthropogenic discharge and extraction, at more than 15 million cubic metres per year. The output of the eponymous artesian spring alone is sufficient to supply Springfontein to an extent which enables us to irrigate the farm’s vineyards optimising the vine biology and thus the grapes’ quality, while at the same time being ecologically highly responsible.

The Hydrology

But also from the hydrology, Springfontein has preferred conditions for viticultural use. Our lentil of calcareous sediment has a water-impermeable bedrock section of the Bokkeveld Group’s Ceres offshoot, embedded in a triangular depression which tapers to a point in the direction of Stanford and is bounded to the north by the Kleinrivier Fault, to the south by the Akkedisberg-De-Kelders Fault, both with the magmatic-metamorphic Table Mountain Group behind. At the chalk lentil’s rim, e.g. at Springfontein’s entrance gate, there are large boulders of this section. Between the Bokkeveld bedrock and the Springfontein’s limestone lies a groundwater reservoir of enormous dimensions, which is partly fed by the Nardouw Aquifer from the southwest, but mainly by the Stanford Aquifer. Studies estimate the potential of this reservoir, i.e. the inflow minus the natural or anthropogenic discharge and extraction, at more than 15 million cubic metres per year. The output of the eponymous artesian spring alone is sufficient to supply Springfontein to an extent which enables us to irrigate the farm’s vineyards optimising the vine biology and thus the grapes’ quality, while at the same time being ecologically highly responsible.

The Biotope

And finally, right among South Africa’s wine farms, Springfontein is a biotope on its own, which, undoubtedly to quite a high extent, is due to the estate’s unique soil conditions. The Cape region is already especially known as “the” Fynbos-Biom, whose vegetation is, as the name implies, characterized by fine bushes. Quite a few of them are of medicinal use or, like the rooibos (“Rooibos”) or the honeybush (“Heuningbos”), can provide fine tea leaves. But while the majority of the fynbos vegetation, like almost all South African vines, is at home on the acidic soils of the Table Mountain Sandstone, Springfontein accommodates only the so-called „Limestone Proteroid Fynbos“, a regionally extremely limited fynbos variety with 110 very rare subspecies. Though, on the one hand, because of the essential oils these species contain, together with the very invasive allochthonous shrubs such as Rooikrans or Port Jackson, which were brought into the country from Australia mainly at the beginning of the last century, this Fynbos represent a significance for agriculture. They are an ideal breeding ground for bush fires, and we have not only had to fight a few of them in recent years, but lost in 2013 more than three hectares of our vineyards to a particularly devastating one. On the other hand, Limestone Fynbos, with its diversity of species and aromas, is habitat for a large proportion of the wild yeasts that we use for must fermentation and vinification on Springfontein. This Fynbos also provides a livelihood for colonies of bees and flocks of birds, some of which, such as the colibrious Sunbirds, help pollinate flowers. Others, of course, also make life difficult for us; every harvest is a race against the Cape starlings, which understandably ardently long for nothing more than for the ripening of fine Springfontein grapes. But unfortunately, as they may keep their yellow eyes, on single berries, they attack in fact whole bunches where the juice that escapes during pecking fer-ments and often affects the fruit of entire vines. This problem, however, weighs almost nothing against the access provided by the specific fauna of our piece of land in return for the afore-mentioned yeast strains, which in concert with those from the vineyard and those from the cellar essentially shape the unique and unadulterated taste characteristics of our wines reflecting the terroir.

The fact that, incidentally, the human being, his or her spirit, his or her hands, also belong to the terroir, as we understand it, should not need to be mentioned. And therefore it should certainly not seem arrogant if we nevertheless dedicate a separate section to those who work on and with Springfontein.

Learn more about The History
Learn more about The Springfonteiners