At Alto Wine Estate we have been privileged to only have 5 winemakers in our 100 year history with 2 being father and son combinations. The heritage, legacy and traditions that have been paved through the years are present in our wines today, our winemaker Bertho van der Westhuizen took the reins as winemaker in 2015 and is keenly aware of the history that precedes him.
Get to know Bertho in this Q and A where he talks more about his winemaking philosophy, favourite varietals and where he gets his inspiration from.
In your view what makes the vineyards at Alto so special for red wine production?
We have cool sunshine, North Westerly facing slopes and the cooling effect of the Cape Doctor. This ensures that our grapes have a long ripening period and also achieve intense flavour concentration.
Which is your favourite variety to work with and why?
I enjoy all the cultivars on Alto but I particularly enjoy working with the King of the red varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine goes through many stages of development and it is wonderful to follow these steps through the whole winemaking process.
What is your winemaking style and philosophy and how does this show in Alto’s wine range?
I enjoy hands on approach. We are blessed with the most fantastic terroir, so minimal interference with a hand on approach gives you the best balance in our wines.
What made you become a winemaker?
Born and bred. Agriculture and particularly viticulture has been in my family for 3 generations.
Favourite Alto wine?
Who is your favourite child…
What has been your greatest achievement as a winemaker so far?
Simply to be blessed with close to 20 vintages in my young career and I am not counting those that I had with my father when I was still at school. That alone is a massive honour.
If you are not in the cellar where would you most likely be?
Definitely in the vineyard, I think admin and processes are the greatest threat to winemaking
What is your favourite wine region and why?
I really enjoy travelling the Bordeaux wine region in France. This area gives food and wine a whole new meaning.
Alto is a historic Estate with deep rooted heritage. Do you take inspiration from the winemakers before you?
Yes, absolutely. They have paved a fantastic road for times to come and left an enormous legacy behind. We are the current custodians of this extraordinary Estate.
You have taken over the winemaking duties from your dad, Schalk van der Westhuizen. What is the biggest lesson in wine you have learnt from him?
Smaller is not always better, good wine does not have to be in small volumes.
If you are fortunate enough to work with fruit from an Estate like Alto, you can produce top quality wines in good volume.