Star Hill Wines is the creation of Grant Hatch and Christopher Palmer Tomkinson who sought to find a high altitude site to fulfill a passionate belief in producing great wines at altitude.
We have 2 ha of Shiraz, 7 ha of Sauvignon Blanc, 1 ha of Viognier and 5 ha of Chenin Blanc in single vineyard blocks under production.
Our focus in the vineyard is on the development of the leaf canopy to support the ripening grapes. We manage irrigation carefully using drip irrigation to provide enough resistance in a dry climate where our rainfall averages 400mm per year.
The Tradouw Highlands is a flat plain, some 750m above sea level on the northern side of the Langeberg Mountains. The plains drop off to the lower and hotter valleys and form the sources of three major river systems – the Goedgeloof River which flows into Poortjieskloof Dam, the Tradouw River which flows towards Barrydale and the Kalkoenshoek River which flows into Sanbona Game Reserve. To the north and west lies the great open expanses of the vast Great Karoo.
The soils of the Tradouw Highlands are a well-drained clay loam overlaying a deep clay from an ancient wetland and broken shale with small quartzite stones from intrusions into the sandstone ridges. Temperatures in summer can reach 30°C at midday and just as they rise into early afternoon, cool winds drop over the mountain with moist sea air and cover the mountains with a blanket of white cloud.
The wind cools the plains making the area perfect for apple production but also for grapes. The effect is growing conditions where the canopy surrounding the grapes is protected from the harsh dry conditions and the sugar levels in the grapes remain ideal for wine production.
We work in close collaboration with Lourens van der Westhuizen of Arendsig Wines. Lourens studied viticulture, wine science and pomology at Elsenberg Agricultural College in Stellenbosch. Completing his studies in 2003 he started his career as an assistant to winemaker, David Finlayson, at Glen Carlou. In the same year he travelled to America and worked in Santa Rosa, California, making up small parcels of wine. Two years ago he also visited Burgundy and Champagne in France.
"As wine maker in my maiden approach, I discovered that nature delivers slow ripening, balance, finesse and minerality in the wines"
Lourens van der Westhuizen, Wine Maker
Lourens returned to the family farm as a fifth generation farmer and decided to take up the challenge and became a first generation wine maker to make his own wines from his birth soil. We managed to convince Lourens that our unique terroir was a worthy project and we have been working together since 2009 on a share passion vision for single vineyard wines.