Alto Wine Estate
Alto is a farm with a rich history, befitting its status as one of the icon estates of the Western Cape winelands.
The first title deeds date back to 1693, but it was only in 1919 that
the farm was given over entirely to vineyard.
That was thanks to the foresight of the farmer Manie Malan who, together with his father Hennie, recognised that the property’s unique aspect, soils and slopes were ideal for crafting full-bodied red wines. They named the farm Alto, homage to both the farm’s altitude and the family’s pursuit of excellence.
The cellar and homestead they built still stand on the estate today. The Malan’s nurtured and expanded these vineyards for four decades, before selling the property to Piet du Toit in 1959. On purchasing the farm Du Toit employed a team of experts to evaluate the terroir and soils, and confirm if the right cultivars were planted across the estate. The consensus? Manie Malan’s intuition couldn’t be faulted. Alto was, and remains, the realm of superlative red wines.
Five Wine Makers
In 1983 Piet retired, handing the honour of Alto winemaker to his son Hempies du Toit, a man as famous for his exploits on the rugby field as in the wine cellar.
With the turn of the century came a new winemaker in Schalk van der Westhuizen, who further cemented Alto’s reputation in South Africa and abroad.
In 2015 he continued the Alto tradition of passing the baton down through the generations, with his son Bertho van der Westhuizen becoming only the fifth winemaker in Alto’s long history.
With the range of wines made entirely from grapes grown on the estate, the foundation for
Alto’s success over the years has always been its remarkable terroir.
Alto is situated in the heart of the so-called ‘Golden Triangle’, and the farm’s position on the warmer northern slopes of the Helderberg make it ideally suited to red wine production. And yet the diversity of the farm allows for enormous complexity in the vineyards.
Planted largely on soils of decomposed granite, the vineyards range in altitude from 100 to 500 metres above sea level. While generous late-afternoon sunshine guarantees concentration and colour in the grapes, the cooling sea breezes blowing in off nearby False Bay lengthen the hanging time on the vine to ensure phenolic ripeness and gentle tannins.
Crafting world-class wines always begins in the vineyard, and key to Alto’s ongoing success is the dedication to discovering greatness in every vine. Every single vineyard – and even parcels within a vineyard – have the opportunity to shine. Each row, and each barrel, has the potential of being a component in Alto’s flagship blend.