The Soils and Vineyards

The Soils and Vineyards
The estate is blessed with very particular and suitable soils. The sub-soils are predominantly clay, from an ancient alluvial deposit, while the topsoil and intermingling layers are of progressively weathered granite gravel, originating from majestic granite mountains thrust up by volcanic activity some 160 million years ago.

Its proximity to the sea allows its vineyards to benefit from the cooling effect of the prevailing south-east wind during the hot Cape summers, permitting a slow ripening of the grapes for a rich varietal aroma.  The area experiences extremely heavy dew deposits and its annual winter rainfall measures approximately 550mm.  Further moisture is derived from the mists that occur in this coastal belt during the ripening period.  Temperatures are moderate around the year.

When the average rainfall is not sufficient in a particular vintage year, supplementary irrigation by drippers becomes necessary.  This helps the vines to develop a better and deeper root structure, and, in return, equips the vine against drought and allows the vines to absorb soil supplement more effectively. For the connoisseur, this contributes to a stronger individual character to the wine.  All vines are trellised and are pruned to limit the tonnage per hectare.
The secret of the suitability of the Meerlust soil lies in the varying composition of clay and granite. Where the soils are richest in clay, Merlot has been meticulously set down, so that the roots can penetrate deep into the soils, seeking the moisture held there by the sponge-like clay from the winter rainfall and made available to the vine throughout the ripening season. These soils are also spiked with black laterite deposits known locally as "koffie klip", which further add to the distinction and quality of our wines.
The Cabernet Sauvignon is grown on low yielding, predominantly biotite partially decomposed granite gravel topsoil rich in quartz and feldspar to a depth of approximately 600mm with a loamy clay subsoil. The Merlot vineyards are planted on more clay rich, yet well drained soils to ensure moisture retention and availability to the vines roots right through the summer. There are considerable deposits of iron-rich Laterite in the Merlot vineyards which accentuates the fruit definition and mineral profile of the wine. The Cabernet Franc Vineyard is situated on very well drained, stony Vilafontes soil with approximately 20% clay which is ideal for this variety. The Petit Verdot is on Oakleaf 3 soils on a northerly aspect to ensure full phenolic ripeness.
The Chardonnay vineyards are planted on two main sites. Compagniesdrift - The soils from this warm north facing slope are predominantly formed from weathered granite. The wines originating from this granitic hilltop are expressive and bold in structure, mainly due to the coarse gravelly texture and sufficient soil depth to promote long and even ripening. The blocks are situated on the highest part of the estate and benefit from cool nights and a prevailing sea breeze that passes over the blocks in the afternoon.
Quarry - The extremely rocky terrain consisting of greywacke with interbedded shales provides a unique substrate for vines. Shallow rooted vines on this cool and windswept foot slope leads to wines with characteristic citrus fruit with exceptional length, detail, and precision. While the Pinot Noir is planted on the highest part of the estate and benefit from cool nights and a prevailing sea breeze that passes over the blocks in the afternoon.

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Meerlust Estate Baden Powell Drive P.O. Box 7121 , Stellenbosch, 7599, South Africa