SylvanVale is the estate comprising the vineyards surrounding the historic Devon Valley Hotel. Built in 1943, the hotel is a much-loved Stellenbosch landmark, and generations of Stellenbosch residents have fond memories of enjoying a drink or a meal while sitting on the hotel terrace overlooking the vineyards. It is these vineyards which now produce the SylvanVale wines.
Grapes have been grown on the property since the 1960s. Today these are some of the flagship vineyards in the Devon Valley, and the south-east facing slopes with their rich red soils now produce superb Pinotage, Cabernet and Chenin Blanc cultivars. Viticulturist Lorna Hughes, who has been instrumental in the renaissance of the property, implements a programme of total quality management, with rigorous bunch selection throughout the year, resulting in intensely flavoured and ultra ripe fruit – the basis of SylvanVale’s big, bold wines.
SylvanVale wine tasting is available at the Cedarwood Lounge & Bar Mondays to Saturdays between 12:00 – 18:00 at R95 per person for 4 wines including canapés R155.
Devon Valley & Vintners
Devon Valley is one of Stellenbosch’s best-kept secrets, both scenically and viticulturally. Vines have flourished here since the 18th century and it has an enviable reputation, not only for the red wines that have been made here, but also as a source of premium grapes. Bertrams winery carried the flag for many years. More recently the valley has rapidly gained recognition as one of the world’s premium red wine sites due to the efforts of Middelvlei, Louisvale, Clos Malverne, Devon Hill and Hidden Valley. Distell’s sparkling wine house, J.C. le Roux, has also settled here.
The new Ward, demarcated in 1997, within the Stellenbosch Wine of Origin runs north/south and lies to the west and alongside the village of Stellenbosch. Through it runs a tiny river, the Veldwachtersrivier, or Shepherds Creek, which joins up with the Eerste Rivier (First River). The valley is open to the south and demarcated by low hills on the other sides. The total area is 2 000ha, while that under vine is 705ha. Most of the vineyards are red.
The slopes of the valley are generally blessed with very good, deep soils formed by decomposed sandstone. Their colour is either yellow or red-brown and they have a fairly high clay fraction, though it is well dispersed. At the bottom of the valley the soils are generally poorer and mainly alluvial, often grey-white in colour, under which lies a fairly hard clay layer which limits these soils.
The eight wine producers in the valley have recently formed the Devon Valley Vintners’ Association. Its charter commits the members to practices that benefit the community, the environment and the quality of the valley’s produce. All wineries that use grapes from the valley are entitled to label these as “Wine of Origin Devon Valley”.