South African Wine, Robertson
About Excelsior Winery
Excelsior winery has been owned by the de Wet family in South Africa since 1870. The current owners are Freddie de Wet and his son Peter de Wet. It is the philosophy at Excelsior that good wine is made in the vineyards and the winemaker can only succeed if he has good basic ingredients with which to work.
In 1859 the first member of the De Wet clan, a young man with energy and vision, came to the valley and bought a large tract of land. He pioneered the channelling of the river to bring water to his fields. He planted crops and established vineyards and orchards and built a cellar, which, because it was continually being extended, became known as the Long Cellar. In his old age he divided his land among three sons, the youngest of whom named his portion Excelsior Winery. Freddie and Peter de Wet who now own Excelsior Winery are the fourth and fifth generation of De Wets to farm the land of their ancestor.
Throughout its long history Excelsior Estate has been prominent in many ventures. At the turn of the century when woman of fashion wore elegant ostrich plumes, Excelsior winery was at the forefront in the production of these feathers. The large stately homestead with its ornately carved furniture bears evidence to the opulence of this era. Before the advent of the motorcar, the best hackney carriage horses and stud Friesland Cattle were also bred at Excelsior. Later the breeding of Hackneys gave way to that of thoroughbred racehorses, and in the fifteen years between 1980 and 1995 Excelsior bred eight individual Classic winners.
In 1981, a modern winery was constructed and today eighty percent of Excelsior, or just over 200 hectares, is planted to vines. The primary focus of the estate is now the production of a range of high-quality red and white wines. Of these Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are the most important varieties.
The vineyards at Excelsior are all irrigated by drip irrigation and much emphasis is placed on applying the correct amount of water. Canopy management also plays an important role in the vineyard management and every effort is made to ensure harvesting is done at optimum ripeness. It is the philosophy at Excelsior that good wine is made in the vineyards and the winemaker can only succeed if he has good basic ingredients with which to work.