At Creation we are proud of our ‘Estate’ status, a term referring to the fact that the wines under the Creation label are grown and made on the farm. Right from the start it has been our intention to harness the full potential of our land in order to create site-specific wines reflecting our unique terroir. It is indeed this ‘sense of place’ that makes our wines so distinctive.
Jean-Claude (JC) Martin, our viticulturist and winemaker, is renowned for his philosophy of ‘enhancing the beauty of nature’. This beauty of course includes the blessing of our remarkable 450-million-year-old clay loam soils with decomposed Bokkeveld shale. But it includes much more … and this brings us to the exciting subject of viticultural geology.
Combining soil science, location and climate, viticultural geology is about the provenance of the wines produced on a specific site. Add to this the choice of rootstock and clones, the health and age of the vines, viticultural practices, weather conditions by vintage and the winemaker’s style and it brings one to what is known as the ‘terroir’. Of course generations of experience and the transfer of intellectual capital also come into play.
With viticultural geologists in short supply the world over, we at Creation are fortunate to have David Saayman, a world-renowned expert, compile a report for us which confirmed that in terms of viticultural geology Creation was a gem! Another brilliant scientist in the field is Heinrich Schloms from VinPro who has also supplied us with valuable information on our little piece of paradise.
What does this mean to the wine lover? Well, that depends on how much you want to know. In the Creation Tasting Room you can enjoy our award-winning wines surrounded by spectacular mountains and hills, while watching the work in progress. This is surely the best way to experience the art of winemaking – from vineyard to cellar! However, if you’re interested in technical detail and want to learn more about Creation’s location, topography, geology, soil and climate, see below.
Location and Topography
Creation is situated 9 km from the cool Atlantic Ocean on the upper reaches of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, which runs in a southwest-northeast direction northeast of Hermanus, bordered respectively on the northern and southern sides by the Babylonstoren and Kleinrivier Mountain ranges (Map 1). This area is registered under the Wine of Origin Scheme of South Africa as the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge Ward.
The topography of Creation comprises two prominent hills with altitudes ranging from 240 m to 290 m above sea level, separated by a north-south running valley towards the western side of the farm. Aspects are predominantly south and southeast and to a lesser extent west and southwest, also with some plateau landscape positions (Map 2).
Geology and Soil
The bedrock of Creation belongs to the Bokkeveld Group, Ceres Subgroup, of shale, with Voorstehoek Formation (Du dark-grey, fossiliferous shale, mudstone and siltstone, thin sandstone beds) in the eastern portions of the farm, Gamka Formation (Dga dark-grey, rather lithic and feldspathic sandstone and siltstone; subordinate shale and conglomerate) mainly in the central valley position and Gydo Formation (Dg black to dark-grey fossiliferous shale, mudstone and siltstone) in the western portion (Map 3).
The soils of Creation are derived mainly from the dark shale Voorstehoek and Gydo Formations, which are highly weathered. The soils along the hillside slopes are predominantly favourably structured, well to moderately drained, yellow-brown Tukulu, Oakleaf and Pinedene soils, with more heavily textured and medium to strongly structured Klapmuts and Estcourt soils predominant on the plateau and western aspect positions. All these soils have adequate water storing capacities and also contain varying amounts of gravel, often ferruginous shale shards (‘klinkerskalie’), that contribute to a favourable structure and better drainage.
A low mean February temperature is regarded as an indication of the potential of a location to produce grapes with outstanding flavour qualities. The long-term mean February temperature of Creation was measured at 20.6 degrees C, placing it in the ‘cool’ category of De Villiers, suited to the production of high quality white and red table wines, implicating high acids, low pH and excellent cultivar character. This is a result of the relatively high altitude and predominant southerly aspects, as well as exposure to the prevailing cool, early summer, southeasterly winds and with even cooler southwesterly sea breezes predominating during the important ripening period.