Our Vineyards | Agulhas - Overberg
Cape Agulhas is situated at the southernmost tip of Africa, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet.
As a wine growing area, Cape Agulhas is distinct from other areas in that it enjoys a cool climate. Quoin Rock Vineyards is located in this cool climate area. The name "Quoin Rock" is derived from Quoin Rock just off Quoin Point, which is about 30 km SW of Quoin Rock Vineyards. Quoin Point is the outer eastern point of the Danger Point Peninsula area and the second most southern tip of Africa. Between Danger Point to the West and Cape Infanta, about 140 Shipwrecks have been mapped. Most of these shipwrecks are around Cape Agulhas, Arniston and Quoin Point. These date from as early as the "Joanna" in 1682 where salvagers found bottles of wine and brandy and Spanish American silver bullion and cob coins.
The History of Quoin Point and its shipwrecks are closely connected to that of Elim, the Moravian mission village nearby. Over the years, the residents of Elim provided assistance to victims of shipwrecks. Queen Victoria even granted the right to use the land at Quoin Point to residents after the Elim residents provided assistance at the wrecking of the "Jessie" in 1829 at Quoin Point.
The Vineyards, since 1998, have been established on the Southern mid-slopes of the Bredasdorp Mountains. Vineyard altitudes range from 135m above sea level on the lower mid-slopes to 210m above sea level on the higher mid-slopes. The soils in this area, which have a pH ranging from 5.0 to 6.1 are derived from Sandstone, Laterite (Koffieklip) and of Granitic origin. High contents of coarse sand and 60 - 80% stone provide good drainage. Selective harvesting is done by hand and transported in small-ventilated crates to the Quoin Rock Winery in Stellenbosch by means of a refrigerated truck.
The main climate determinant in this area is the ocean, being only 26km from the farm, and with vineyards nestled in a kloof in the mountain, it has an annual rainfall of over 600mm favouring conditions for dry land vineyards. The April 2005 floods (405mm) pushed the annual figure for 2005 to over 1000mm.
It has an entirely different microclimate, governed by the southerly winds into the Agulhas Plain and thus has a completely different flora to that North of the coastal hills.
Wines originating from the Agulhas locality have unique "terroir" characteristics, brought about because of the particular climate and soil conditions found in this region. Winter temperatures are always cool enough to ensure a uniform state of dormancy in the vines. Summer temperatures are moderate with the vines rarely experiencing high levels of stress. Higher humidity and frequent rainfall during the ripening period of the grapes can pose a risk to viticulture with losses to botrytis being quite common.
High wind levels are also very common in this area. Wind has both positive and negative effects for viticulture. Strong winds in spring and early summer can injure new growth and young bunches, as well as reduce fruit set. There is however a positive influence with winds. Air circulation helps in preventing high relative humidity and therefore assists in reducing the chances of diseases. Wind can also thicken the skins of the grapes, increasing the intensity of flavour.
However, the uniquely cooler ripening conditions preserve flavour and acidity in the grapes with tannins remaining soft and elegant. This makes the area specially suited to producing grapes, which benefit from cooler ripening conditions such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinot Noir. In such areas, there will be variability in wines from year to year. This is a typical characteristic of a cool climate wine growing area.
Planting densities range from 3333-4000 vines per hectare. The general trellising system incorporates spur pruning and vertical shoot positioning. In Cape Agulhas, we have focused primarily on the establishment of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc with smaller plantings of Merlot and Pinot Noir.