Annandale is said to be the oldest farm in the premium red-wine producing Helderberg Valley. Governor Simon van der Stel granted the title to Jan Wismaar, the property’s first owner, in 1688. The farm was known as Brakelsdal until the early 1800s, when the then the owner fell in love with a girl from the Annan River Valley in Scotland, and changed the name of the property accordingly. A manor house built in the middle of the 1700s and a cellar which predates 1700 can be found on Annandale to this day, adding to the old world charm of the estate.
Annandale had been used as a horse riding school in the past. He bought the property in 1996, and has planted 45 hectares new vineyards of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabemet Franc and Shiraz. Here red wines are made and nurtured to perfection. His passion and love of the making of wine is evident in the careful restoration of the pressing and maturation cellars. The vineyard team, whose involvement in viticulture stretches over several generations with the Du Toit family, guarantees the quality of grapes on Annandale. Visitors are welcome to share a truly Cape Wine experience in Annandale’s unspoilt traditional cellar.
The home of vintage wines
Grapes have been grown for over 315 years on this historic property. Set amidst the top wine-growing and wine-producing estates of South Africa, Annandale Wine Estate currently cultivates 45 hectares of Vitus vinifera, planted by Hempies over four years between 1996 and 1999. At present, Annandale focuses exclusively on growing red grapes and producing premium quality red wines. The following varietals presently thrive at Annandale:
- 20 hectares of cabernet sauvignon
- 12 hectares of shiraz
- 10 hectares of merlot
- 3 hectares of cabernet franc
For ten years prior to planting the vineyards, Hempies built up the soil at Annandale, principally by planting vegetables. Hempies further strengthened the soil with natural compost and organic fertilizer, consistent with the highest standards of environmentally friendly viticulture practices.
Annandale features medium density vine plantings but Hempies aggressively prunes the vines and thins the crop to produce low yields of very high-quality grapes per vine.
Bunches of grapes are hand-selected during harvesting to maintain quality. The entire maceration and maturation process is conducted on-site at Annandale Estate’s cellar according to the finest traditions of Old World winemaking.
The Annandale philosophy is one of simplicity and honesty. With as little intervention as possible, wines are guided from the vineyard into the bottle and allowed to express the best of what nature has to offer.
No commercial yeasts are used, and fermentation is an entirely natural process. If necessary, the tanks are cooled by water diverted from the stream next to the cellar, which is run over the tanks then returned to the stream. Wines are not racked or fined, but left in peace to mature in the silence of the old cellar. Over the years these wines become the embodiment of the farm motto ‘vintage wines’.
Gerhard ‘Hempies’ du Toit us a well-known figure not only in winemaking circles, but as a world-class rugby player who made his test debut for the Springboks during the 1981 tour of New Zealand. He is still remembered as the scourge of the All Blacks scrum, surprising with his speed and agility on the field.
Hempies often says that he has red wine running in his veins instead of blood. His father was the winemaker at Alto Wine estate, and Hempies spent his childhood in the vines and in the cellar, absorbing the secrets of his craft at his father’s hand and nurturing a lifelong love of wine and winemaking. After studying oenology and viniculture at Stellenbosch University, Hempies took over the reigns as winemaker of Alto in 1983. When Alto was sold, Hempies bought Annandale wine estate, and the rest is winemaking history.