Alto Estate Rouge is the estate red wine blend and it generally consists of a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Shiraz grapes. Alto Estate is situated on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain in the Stellenbosch district and dates back to 1693 when it was part of a much larger farm called Groenrivier (Green River), granted to a free burgher by Governor Simon van der Stel. In 1919 the owner of the farm, Hennie Malan, sold off half the land to his brother-in-law and set about planting vines on his remaining portion, focusing exclusively on red varieties. He named the smaller farm Alto, a reference to its altitude (some slopes rise as high as 500m above sea level) and his striving for excellence. Today Alto Estate has 93 hectares under vines. The trellised vineyards cling to the high granite slopes that are ideal for the cultivation of red wine varieties.
For almost 70 years Alto Estate, which became famous as Alto Rouge, is still regarded as the aristocrat and benchmark of Cape red blended wines. The 2014 Alto Estate Rouge is a blend of 30% Cabernet Franc, 26% Shiraz, 16% Merlot and 28% Cabernet Sauvignon. Each grape variety is vinified separately in closed stainless steel vats with pumping over of the fermenting must several times a day. After malolactic fermentation the wine is aged for 18 months in a combination of first, second and third fill oak barrels (French, American and Hungarian).
Not many wine estates can boast only five winemakers in a century. And even fewer can claim two father and son combinations over the same period. Bertho Van Der Westhuizen took over the reins from his father in the vineyard and cellar in 2015.