Oak Valley - South Africa

Our Wines

Terroir of Oak Valley
Our wines are produced within the highly acclaimed cool climate Elgin Region, statistically the coolest wine region in South Africa. The benefit of a cooler climate is that the grapes spend a longer time attached to the vine. This enhances flavour development as the grapes reach physiological ripeness more gradually with lower sugar levels and consequently lower alcohols.

A feature of the terrain on Oak Valley is a sequence of rolling hills set in an undulating countryside. There are currently 4 vineyard sites, 3 are situated on cooler south-facing slopes with the Merlot and Cabernet blocks situated on a north-facing slope. 30 hectares is currently planted, mainly to Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The oldest planting still in the ground dates back to 1992.

Altitudes range from 300m to 500m with the highest vineyard, a Pinot Noir block, situated at ±500 metres at the foot of the Groenland Mountains.

The Oak Valley soils are developed from ancient Bokkeveld shale that underwent intensive weathering and are therefore acid. The soils are predominantly comprised of reddish-brown, iron-rich gravelly material, underlaid by structured clay, with soft weathered porous shale still deeper down. The physical properties of these soils contain growth limiting upper layers over a water storing subsoil that marries perfectly with the climate and high rainfall of around 1011mm per annum, the second highest rainfall of South Africa's wine regions. This allows for moderate growth in the early season combined with some protection against heat and ground shocks during ripening.

In summer, when the traditional wine growing regions suffer from excessive heat, the prevailing South Easterly winds bring a cloud mantle across the Elgin valley, creating markedly lower daytime temperatures. In extreme cases, the cloud cover is thick enough to enable precipitation known as the Black South-Easter, which typically brings a fair amount of rain throughout the day.

Elgin is classified as Region II on the Winkler scale as shown on the table below. The mean temperature in February is 19.55°C. Since Elgin is so cool, the majority of grapes are typically harvested in March. Kevin Watt, a well-known South African viticulturist, is the Oak Valley viticultural consultant.

Weather Station * Days Jan Feb March Winkler Classification
Reims (France) 1011 N/A N/A N/A Region I
Bordeaux (France) 1328 N/A N/A N/A Region I
Elgin (SA) 1486 19.3 19.55 18.55 Region II
Napa (California) 1600 N/A N/A N/A Region II
Walker Bay (SA) 1609 19.6 19.95 18.9 Region II
Constantia (SA) 1720 20 20.6 19.75 Region III
Stellenbosch (SA) 1898 21.45 22.15 20.7 Region III
Durbanville (SA) 1906 21.4 22.4 20.85 Region III
Franschhoek (SA) 2014 21.75 22.4 21.1 Region IV
Robertson (SA) 2164 23.1 22.9 21.5 Region IV
* Knox, Graham Estate Wines of South Africa 2nd Edition, Cape Town David Philip