Keermont Vineyards is a farm located in a back valley outside of Stellenbosch, ZA. The name comes from Keerweder, which is the name of the former farm. A keerweder is a dead end in a valley - it literally translates to 'blocked again', as the early settlers were blocked by the terrain when they tried to pass through the valley. The winery and vineyards are located in the shadow of Guardian Peak (official name is Suurberg). The mountain fruit here is similar to the grapes grown at the Howell Mountain AVA in Napa Valley.
KEY POINTS ON KEERMONT VINEYARDS
- Keermont Vineyards is a family-owned boutique wine estate.
- Keermont is situated in naturally-formed amphitheatre in the mountains above Stellenbosch, South Africa.
- They produced their first wines in a dis-used spring water bottling shed on the farm in 2007, before converting it into a small winery.
- All grapes used in their wines are grown on Keermont Vineyards. They are fermented, matured and bottled in the winery.
- They have a total of 72 acres of vines. Small parcels are harvested by hand and fermented separately in order to produce wines with complexity & depth.
- They follow a natural and traditional winemaking philosophy – (indigenous yeast fermentation, no adjustment to acid or alcohol, maturation in seasoned oak barrels, bottling by hand without filtration).
- Certified “Sustainable farming & winemaking practices”.
- They currently produce about 3500 cases (9Ltr) per year.
Keermont Vineyards' history can be traced back to 1694 when Jan Jac van Dyk owned most of the land in the Blaauwklippen Valley, including the land where Waterford, Dornier and Stellenzicht Wine Estates are found today. His is the earliest record of a European landowner using this area for agricultural purposes. After Jan Jac van Dyk, many landowners, realizing the potential and beauty of the Blaauwklippen Valley, moved into the area and gradually the land was divided and sold off as separate farms.
In 2003, the Wraith family moved to the Western Cape from Gauteng and bought Fleurfontein as well as Keerweder III. These two farms are now farmed as one Estate known as Keermont Vineyards. Mark and Monica Wraith currently live on Keermont Vineyards with their family.
2005 saw the start of a major vineyard planting program on lands that had been fallow for a number of years. The planting program is now complete with nearly 27 ha under vine. In 2010, a spring water bottling plant, which had been built on Fleurfontein by Graham Boonzaier, was converted into a fully functional winery complete with offices, tasting room, processing facilities and barrel rooms.
Total farm acreage is 157 hectares (388 acres) with 30 hectares under vine.
- 20 hectares Red varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah
- 10 hectares White varietals – Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier
Some of the Chenin Blanc vines are forty plus years old and are used by De Trafford winery.
The owner is businessman Mark Wraith and the wine maker is Alex Starey. No fining or filtration is practiced at this estate. The first release vintage of 2007 yielded a tiny crop of five barrels or about 108 cases (12/750ml size).
The philosophy in the vineyards tends towards the natural rather than the scientific. They aim to create wines that reflect the beautiful place from which they come and the particular year's vintage conditions. For this reason, they try to use less chemical fertilizers, fewer pesticides and to irrigate as little as possible. They hope to achieve natural, well-balanced vineyards that ultimately yield better quality wines
The goal of this estate is to make superior blends. The wines to be produced, but not written in stone, are:
A) Keermont Red – 40 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 20% Syrah.
B) Keermont White – 70% Chenin Blanc, 30% Viognier and Chardonnay
C) Dessert wine in exceptional vintages
D) Keermont Syrah – Syrah, Mourvedre, Viognier
"Alex Starey is one of the new breed of Stellenbosch winemakers. I am considering asking the South African authorities to do a selection massale of Alex, maybe take graftings from his hair, in order to create new winemakers that can be distributed across the region. Seriously though, Alex has really put Keermont on the map in recent years with a succession of superb Rhône blends. I asked him whether there has been any recent changes. "We have planted Roussanne and Marsanne recently," he told me. "That is the only major change. The first crop will be 2017 and the idea is to eventually add them into the Terrasse. The 2014 Terrasse was a bigger vintage in terms of production than normal. Predominantly 30% of fruit comes from the old Riverside block and is supplemented with Chenin Blanc from Low Ride and a new plot - Bobbejaan vineyard, which apparently the baboons still love. They still eat a few grapes. Chardonnay will come in next year from the old terraces that were farmed in the 1970s. I've been trying to capture the freshness, so I had to pick quite quickly in 2014, but we can't push it too far." Needless to say, these are outstanding wines that do the reputation of Stellenbosch no harm at all, attesting to the quality of their terroir. - Neal Martin."
- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate (November 2015)
"Keermont Vineyard is one of leading lights of Stellenbosch, enjoying a rapid ascent under winemaker Alex Starey and all documented here in The Wine Advocate in recent reports. I asked him about current developments at Keermont. What's coming up? "We have evolved a lot in recent years," he answered. "We have planted a couple of new blocks of Roussanne and a tiny amount of Marsanne. Hopefully they will fit into the Terrasse, otherwise we will have to introduce a new blend. We took out an old block of Merlot that had been terribly planted at the time and was battling the conditions. The land is fallow, but we'll plant some more Syrah, giving us another hectare. We are nearly at our full capacity now of 100 tonnes and we will cap it there as we only want estate fruit. Other than that there are no major changes apart from selling in new markets such as Japan." It was another strong selection of new releases from Keermont. I was smitten by the 2015 Riverside Chenin Blanc, likewise the two Syrah labels, Topside and Steepside (perhaps there is a "Backside" in the offing?). These exuded complexity and sophistication, wines that will develop long-term in bottle, but convey a sense of approachability. Their sweet wine Fleurfontein is also exceptionally pure and mellifluous, perfect nectar to finish off a dinner. Exciting times lie ahead for Keermont.. - Neal Martin."
- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate (Issue #230, April 2017)