Our History

Alto is a farm with a rich history, befitting its status as one of the icon estates of the Western Cape winelands. The first title deeds date back to 1693, but it was only in 1919 that the farm was given over entirely to vineyard.

That was thanks to the foresight of the farmer Manie Malan who, together with his father Hennie, recognised that the property’s unique aspect, soils and slopes were ideal for crafting full-bodied red wines. They named the farm Alto, homage to both the farm’s altitude and the family’s pursuit of excellence. The cellar and homestead they built still stand on the estate today.

The Malan’s nurtured and expanded these vineyards for four decades, before selling the property to Piet du Toit in 1959. On purchasing the farm Du Toit employed a team of experts to evaluate the terroir and soils, and confirm if the right cultivars were planted across the estate. The consensus? Manie Malan’s intuition couldn’t be faulted. Alto was, and remains, the realm of superlative red wines.

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In 1983 Piet retired, handing the honour of Alto winemaker to his son Hempies du Toit, a man as famous for his exploits on the rugby field as in the wine cellar. With the turn of the century came a new winemaker in Schalk van der Westhuizen, who further cemented Alto’s reputation in South Africa and abroad.

In 2015 he continued the Alto tradition of passing the baton down through the generations, with his son Bertho van der Westhuizen becoming only the fifth winemaker in Alto’s long history.