Alto – Red Wine Icon in Stellenbosch
The Alto wine estate nestles on the imposing slopes of the Helderberg. Although the roots of the estate go back to 1693, viticulture has only been practised since 1919 – and with great success, because Alto is one of the most respected and oldest red wine producers in South Africa. The foundation stone for this was laid by Manie Malan. He and his father Hennie recognised that the soils, which are mostly decomposed granite, and the slope length were ideal for producing full-bodied red wines. It was the two men who gave the estate the name Alto. The reason for this is the high location at 100 to 500 metres above sea level, because "alto" means as much as "high up". In a figurative sense, the name also stands for the pursuit of excellence.
Alto – perfect conditions for excellent red wines
The altitude, the soils and the location on the warmer northern slopes of the Helderberg offer optimal conditions to produce top performance and top wines in the wine cellar, because red grape varieties find ideal conditions here. The afternoon sun gives the grapes concentration and colour, and the sea breeze from nearby False Bay ensures that the grapes ripen longer and the wines later acquire soft tannins. The making of world-class wines begins in the vineyard – of this Alto is convinced – and each red wine excellently reflects its remarkable terroir in Stellenbosch. Tradition and innovation are Alto's hallmarks, and this is also evident in the consistency in the wine cellar, because despite a hundred years of history, Bertho van der Westhuizen is only the winery's fifth winemaker.
Alto – five winemakers ensure success
The Malans looked after Alto's vineyards for four decades before selling the estate to Piet du Toit in 1959. He also took over the position of winemaker from Manie Malan and put the responsibility for the wine cellar in the hands of his son Hempies when he retired in 1983. Hempies du Toit was equally famous as a winemaker and a rugby player. However, the two were not the only father-son team in Alto's wine cellar. With Schalk van der Westhuizen, a new winemaker arrived at the turn of the millennium who further consolidated Alto's good reputation at home and abroad. He also handed over his position to his son, as Bertho van der Westhuizen has been responsible for winemaking since 2015. Alto's flagship wine is dedicated to his predecessors: the wine bears the name M.P.H.S. – and thus also the initials of the first four winemakers in Alto's history – and always shows the best of a vintage. The Cabernet Sauvignon is the centrepiece of the red wine collection and is the estate's most awarded wine. The blend Alto Rouge has been produced since its beginnings in 1919 and has become an icon among South African red wines and is very popular among South Africans. Those who visit the winery in the "Golden Triangle" can enjoy the wonderful red wines on the terrace – and at the same time have a stunning view of the Stellenbosch Hills and Table Mountain.