The concept of “terroir” has a strong influence on the character of wine produced at Klein Constantia, with soil and climatic conditions ideal for producing grapes with ample fruit flavours.
Situated between 70 metres and 343 metres above sea level, with a constant sea breeze above 150 metres, temperatures remain cool, preserving the fruit during ripening. With the ocean a mere 10 kilometres away, the wind plays an important factor, too, often stressing the vineyard and resulting in an increase in concentration and flavour in the fruit.
Part of South Africa’s Constantia Wine Route, our farm is situated on the eastern slopes and foothills of Constantiaberg, with 90% of the property being South to East facing. The higher slopes are some of the colder slopes in the Cape, with fewer sunlight hours and lower temperatures being ideal for preserving the acidity and pH of white varieties, most especially Sauvignon Blanc.
This cool climate also creates the ideal growing conditions for Muscat de Frontignan, used to make our natural sweet dessert wine, Vin de Constance. As the berries are able to ripen fully on the East to North facing slopes before raisining begins, they are able to produce raisined fruit of the very best concentration and flavour.
Our soils originate from 600 million year old granite, formed in a period of different climatic conditions to today. This well-drained, fertile decomposed granite with high clay content ensures good water retention. During the long, dry summers of the Cape, enough water will slowly drain back into the vineyards to ensure an effective leaf canopy and proper ripening of the fruit. The younger Table Mountain sandstone formations higher on the slopes do not influence the soils at all.
Klein Constantia’s soil types can be divided mainly between the deep fertile Oakleaf and the drier Glenrosa, with a saprolite subsoil.
Normally the Oakleaf soil consists of a dark organic rich topsoil of 30 to 40 centimetres, with a deep yellow or red neocutanic subsoil. Lower on the slopes near the valley floors, the Oakleaf changes to Tukulu soil. Closely related to Oakleaf, Tukulu is different only in that there are signs of short periods of wetness in the deeper soil profiles. Both soils can be red or yellow in colour.
Glenrosa soil is gravelly, has yellow topsoil, and with weakly weathered subsoil, it dries out fairly quickly. This soil form occurs on the higher slopes of the farm and is less fertile than the Oakleaf soils.