September 4, 2023

Regenerative farming and sustainability the heart of Stellenzicht’s farming philosophy


Stellenzicht is situated on the slopes of the Helderberg mountain, just outside of Stellenbosch. The property came under private ownership in 2017 which saw a young and dynamic team take over the reins under the lead of wine-maker, L’Ré Hughes and viticulturist, Nico Nortje. The team wants to protect the farm’s natural resources through regenerative farming practices. This journey started by working closely with industry leaders to establish an extensive replanting program to establish the correct varieties and rootstocks for the various soils and terroir on the property. The property’s focus immediately changed to Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Cinsault and Chardonnay.

Regenerative farming practices which were put in place included an extensive compost program to reduce the use of artificial fertilizers, decreasing tillage of soils to promote a healthy soil biome, especially in the young blocks where fine root development is essential as well as improving the water requirements in the vineyard. Another important piece of the puzzle was planting cover crops as a natural weed suppressant as well as selecting the right cover crop for each vineyard to address any nutrient requirements. “We focus on encouraging a self-regulating ecosystem of natural predators for vineyard prey and pests by establishing fynbos corridors between vineyard blocks.”

All the attention to detail paid off and within the first 4 years the team started reaping the rewards of their efforts. Natural fauna and flora returned to the property in abundance and the quality of the grapes increased exponentially with each passing year. Nortje commented: “We truly believe that regenerative farming is the way forward, and the past 5 years have been proof that you can farm a premium product, while taking care of nature.”

The winery was also updated with the latest equipment and technology to ensure that the harvested grapes could be nurtured during the winemaking process, but according the winemaker, L’Ré Hughes, the biggest focused stays in the vineyards.  “All great wines start in the vineyards, and to us it was super important to understand these vineyards, apply the best practices to achieve exceptional quality grapes, all while being very aware of our impact on mother nature.”

As a member of the Porto Protocol, they are very aware of their carbon footprint. The installation of their solar farm in 2022 was the natural next step in securing alternative energy sources, while lowering their demand on the traditional grid.

This ongoing effort and drive towards balance and excellence is embodied in the brand’s logo consisting of a dragonfly intertwined with the SZ of Stellenzicht. Dragonflies are a great bioindicator of health in an ecosystem. The team notes that the logo is their constant reminder of where they are heading. Creating balanced wines from nature in balance. A consistent pursuit of balance.