The combination of a passionate longstanding team, solid determination and dogged enthusiasm ensure that the Vergelegen winemaking philosophy is adhered to: there must be harmony between the old and the new. Since 1700, Vergelegen (meaning situated far away) has been a historic estate in Somerset West, in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Extending over 3000 hectares, from the banks of the Lourens River to the rock faces of the Hottentots Holland Mountains, Vergelegen is one of South Africa's most prominent wineries. This is reflected by the fact its wines have earned more than 200 local and international awards since 1999. Vergelegen is an important estate in the area and environmental conservation is of key importance to the region and South Africa. In 1989, an extensive project was undertaken to re-establish the vineyards following intensive climatic and soil tests. A detailed master plan was drawn up for the re-development of the farm and in 1992, an impressive, multi-levelled, sunken hilltop winery was built and opened by none other than Baron Eric de Rothschild, owner of Chateau Lafite in Bordeaux. The design of the winery is unlike any previously built in South Africa and mis based on the principles of gentle handling, visual control and natural gravity flow. This was undoubtedly the start of the Vergelegen renaissance. Boasting a rich array of twenty one different soil types, some of which are among the most ancient agricultural soils in the world, vines have mainly been established on clovelly, glenrosa and pinedene soils. These soils are characterised by a high clay content, ensuring good water retention during the critical early-Summer ripening stage.The unique combination of all the elements that make up the terroir of Vergelegen is key to the production of its signature style of wines. The growing climate is mild due to the close proximity to the chilly Atlantic Ocean at False Bay six kilometres away, with vineyard sites ranging in altitude between 140m and 310m above sea level and slopes facing north to northwest and south to south-east. Vergelegen's unique and rich vineyard holdings allow award winning winemaker, Andre van Rensburg, to pursue his hunger for excellence, creativity and innovation. A self-proclaimed perfectionist, van Rensburg's unwavering attention to detail and his passionate, longstanding team have ensured that the Vergelegen winemaking philosophy of harmony between the old and the new has never faltered in the nineteen years that he has been leading the winemaking efforts. In terms of grape varieties, Vergelegen is planted with classic international varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Chardonnay for the whites and Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Shiraz for the reds. With only 149 hectares taken up with vineyard plantings, the rest of the estate has been ringfenced for environmental conservation. Situated in one of the richest floral regions of the world, the Vergelegen estate is home to the most pristine natural flora and fauna. The importance and scale of the conservation project undertaken at Vergelegen is shown by the fact that it is considered the biggest private environmental project of its kind in South Africa.