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Classic red wine pioneer in Stellenbosch, Alto, celebrates 100 years of winemaking


9 May 2019

Bertho van der Westhuizen is Alto's 5th winemaker in a century.  This is remarkable in itself, but there is more! Bertho's dad, Schalk was the previous winemaker and before him, Hempies du Toit (5 times capped Springbok rugby player) and his dad Piet du Toit were the 2 previous winemakers.  Not common to have 2 father-and-son winemakers at the same farm.

The Malan family planted the first vineyards in 1919 - just after the 1st World War ended, and focused on red wines, possibly one of the first to prove that this area was best suited to red wines - the golden triangle on the hills of the Stellenbosch mountains.
In 1959, the farm was purchased by Hempies' father Piet, and in when the farm was sold to Lusan (Distell), Hempies bought one of the farms next door - Annandale - where he continues to produce great wines.

The Alto Rouge is one of South Africa's better known and loved red blends and I am very sad that the 2015 is now completely sold out!  I have one bottle left, which I am not sharing with anyone but will report that the 2016 was definitely also a hit at the lunch!
Our autumnal lunch in the barrel cellar really celebrated the marriage of red wine and red meat. Chef Jacques Erasmus from Hemelhuijs prepared a delicious Pot au feu de Veau consommé which we enjoyed with the 2016 Rouge, followed by salad and then short ribs & marrow bones paired with the Cab and the Shiraz and then cheese & more delicious red blends including the famous MPHS - so named after the first 4 winemakers Manie, Piet, Hempies & Schalk - a fitting tribute to the intrepid 4.

Congratulations to all at Alto - a wonderful celebration!