Albertus Viljoen (Alvi) van der Merwe buys a farm on the banks of the Breede River. To gain better access to the property, he builds a low water bridge across the river. Over time, the river crossing became known as Alvi’s Drift. The first vines are planted on the property and a modest cellar is built.
Alvi’s son Bertie takes over the running of the property and continues to plant vineyards and expand the cellar. Bertie names the cellar Rondebosch. A former director of the KWV and the South African Brandy Foundation, Bertie was inducted as a Legend of the SA Wine Industry in 2010.
Bertie’s son Alvi, a medical doctor, becomes involved in the business on a part time basis. Alvi adopts the name of the low water bridge as the trading name of the cellar with the intention of entering the branded bottled market.
The first wines under the Alvi’s Drift Label are released, a Chardonnay that won gold at the SA Young Wine Show.
First Red wine was released, Alvi’s Drift Shiraz 2002 （Alvi’s Drift Shiraz 2002）
Alvi joins the business on a full-time basis with the objective up upgrading the vineyards, improving wine quality and entering the branded wine market. The resulting wines win several gold medals and 5 star ratings
A Cape Blend called Drift Fusion and a Chenin Blanc are bottled. Both wines win gold medals at Veritas.
A new company (Alvi’s Drift Wines International) is formed. Alvi’s Drift Private Cellar is to supply the grapes and winemaking facilities and Alvi’s Drift Wines International is to bottle wine under the Alvi’s Drift label.
A national sales and distribution network is established in South Africa and the international market is opened up through the appointment of agents in Europe and Canada.
Percentage of production bottled reaches 15% up from 0.1% in 2010. Alvi’s Drift has established itself as the #1 independently distributed brand in South Africa with the #1Viognier in SA and the #5 Sauvignon Blanc and #3 Pinotage in Africa’s largest and fastest growing supermarket.
Alvi’s Drift is situated on the banks of the Breede River, 2 hours drive East of Cape Town, in the Scherpenheuwel ward of the Worcester region.
The climate is typically Mediterranean, with mild wet winters and hot dry summers. Cold winter temperatures ensure the vines enter enforced dormancy which in turn ensures even bud burst in Spring. Being only 70km from the cool Atlantic Ocean, on most Summer evenings, the vineyards are cooled by a breeze created by the rising warm air being replaced by cooler air from the coast. The cool evenings in Summer and Autumn ensure cool temperatures for the picking of the white grapes in the early morning. This also provides an ideal environment for slow ripening of the grapes and allowing balanced phenolic ripeness. Plentiful, high quality water from the Breede River supplements natural rainfall and allows management of the water stress in the vineyard. The low Summer rainfall results in low disease pressure and the vines are kept healthy with a minimalistic spray program.
The vineyards are spread across a range of soils. Near the river, the soils are mainly alluvial. Rich and fertile, these soils provide vigorous growing conditions for Sauvignon Blanc. Our best sauvignon tends to come from these soils. Shale provides excellent drainage for many of our best red wine vineyards. Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinotage all perform well on these soils. We have fossilised ant hills which provide the soils for our best white wines. Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier produce intense fruit flavours on these soils.
The total property covers 7,000 ha along the Breede River and surrounding areas. With 420 ha under vine and over 20 varieties being grown, Alvi’s Drift Private Cellar is South Africa’s largest privately owned winery processing their own grapes. Individual mesoclimates are carefully chosen to suit specific varieties and maximise grape quality. The majority of the vineyards are on the slightly higher slopes of the hills surrounding the Breede River. Typically, our best vineyards are planted on low yielding rootstocks. The vines receive much of their nutrition from a natural compost prepared on the farm.
Alvi van der Merwe and Linley Schultz work with the Cellar Manager and Assistant Winemaker to produce the various wine styles.
All grapes are produced on the farm and are processed through the family-owned winery.
PHILOSOPHY OF WINE MAKING
We assess the quality and commercial acceptance of each wine annually. If the product can be improved, we modify viticultural and production techniques to achieve desired outcomes. Through experience and continued experimentation, we create and maintain a production blueprint for each wine. This starts in the vineyard with site selection, rootstocks, variety, clones, trellis design, and orientation. Harvesting is carried out on a block by block basis with a selection of individual bunches where necessary. The fruit is delivered quickly to the winery. In the winery, our blueprint gives a framework for decision making, without being inflexible or overly prescriptive. We keep it as simple as possible to ensure the desired outcome.
(+852) 6313 2688
Room 1106, Golden Gate Commercial Building 136-138 Austin Road,
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Rm 1302, Chuangzhan Free Port
80 Jiang Nan Da Dao Zhong, Haizhu District, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, P.R.China,