Alheit Vineyards is a family business started in 2010 by husband and wife team Chris and Suzaan Alheit. They met at Stellenbosch University, fell in love, travelled the world together, got married, then travelled some more. Eventually they settled on Hemelrand farm close to Hermanus and started their project.
The years we spent following the harvests North and South were golden. We learned so much. We returned home from our travels at the end of 2010 on a mission to make very South African wine.
Over the years, Alheit Vineyards has also become a network of people: parents and friends helping in harvest time, Hans making lunch, growers getting excited about their vineyards, interns coming from afar, enthusiastic importers representing our wines around the world, etc. It’s been a remarkable journey.
Our goals are simple. We want to make wines with a clear sense of Cape identity. We want to show that the Cape’s vinous heritage is worth celebrating and protecting. We love old vineyards. We love dry farming. We love bushvines. We think that “ordinary grapes” are in fact wonderful. We believe that great things are possible here in the Cape, and that we are now just scratching the surface of what can be done.
We believe that quality and beauty in wine come from the vineyard alone. The true wonder of wine is revealed when all the nonsense and lies are stripped away. Therefore, we practice simple and careful winemaking: no yeasts, no enzymes, no acidification, no sulphur before ferment, no blocking malo, no new barrels, no fining etc. No manipulation. This is the core principle we adhere to. We cannot in good conscience talk about the importance of place if we’re manipulating the wine. We’re hoping to find the voice of the land, not the mark of the winemaker.
In our vineyards much attention is paid to the farming, with an emphasis on careful pruning and suckering, diligent canopy work, and hand hoeing. We like to encourage healthy soil by cover cropping, mulching, and manuring. All our grapes are hand-picked into small lug boxes and transported with care by us to our winery.
We work closely with our growers. We also have our own farm, Nuwedam, on the Paardeberg, for which we are fully responsible.
In the cellar we use gentle whole cluster pressing, hardly settling (we like very cloudy raw juice), no additions to the raw juice, wild fermentation in either cement eggs, clay pots, foudres, or old barrels (various sizes). The wine is kept on lees for around twelve months, then rested in tank without fining for a further four months prior to bottling.
Hemelrand farm is one of the most scenic spots in the Cape. Set high up on the Hemel & Aarde Ridge, Hemelrand can be windy and cold, but on still sunny days it’s achingly beautiful. Hemelrand belongs to Hans and Mary Ann Evenhuis. Over the last fifteen years they have developed this amazing place from nothing into something special.