Robertson is a wine-producing area situated in the Breede River Valley region of the Western Cape, located approximately 100 miles east of Cape Town. Recognized as one of South Africa’s prominent wine regions, Robertson is renowned for crafting rich, fruit-driven red and white wines, with a focus on Chardonnay and Shiraz grape varieties. The area is also celebrated for its sparkling wines made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Locally referred to as the “Valley of Wine and roses,” Robertson has a historical background rooted in sheep grazing during the 18th Century, eventually leading to the establishment of the town in 1852. In addition to vineyards and wine cellars, the region has been associated with ostrich farming and racehorse stud farms. While Robertson may not possess the same historical significance as Stellenbosch or Paarl, it is home to some of South Africa’s most renowned wine estates and has grown from less than 25 cellars in 1995 to more than 50 today.
Encompassing the land surrounding the town of Robertson, the region extends from the westward ward of Eilandia to the eastward Bonnievale. It is separated from the semi-arid Klein Karoo region in the north by the Langeberg Mountains. The Breede River winds through the picturesque landscape, with vineyards scattered along its tributaries and the foothills of the mountains.
Robertson benefits from a dry, hot climate that favors the cultivation of high-quality grapes. The region experiences limited rainfall, prompting the utilization of irrigation from the Breede River. However, cooling south-easterly breezes from the nearby Indian Ocean, located 60 miles away, influence the vineyards, providing respite and introducing moisture to the area. Occasional mists contribute refreshing coolness.
Daytime temperatures can reach 85°F but significantly drop during the evenings. This diurnal temperature variation allows the grapes to cool overnight, preserving their acidity while developing luscious flavor profiles. Winters in Robertson are relatively cold, providing the vines with a dormant period before the subsequent growing season.
The distinctive array of soil types in Robertson offers wineries abundant options for site selection. The fertile alluvial soils in the river valley are ideal for cultivating red wine varieties, while the red, gravelly soils reminiscent of the nearby Karoo desert are well-suited for white wine grapes. Throughout Robertson, pockets of limestone soil contribute to the success of Chardonnay vineyards, imparting a delightful chalky minerality akin to the renowned wines of Chablis, France.