Cederberg is a ward in the area of Clanwilliam, some 300km north of Cape Town, South Africa, and is named after the Mountains which are a significant feature of the ward. The spelling of the name is an attempt to combine the English and Afrikaans words for the area, describing the now endangered plant the Clanwilliam Cedar. This area is in the middle of the Northern Cape area, and is as far inland as the Western wine-growing lands extend. Because of this, it is not as exposed to the Atlantic weather currents as some of the areas, particularly those on the coast.
The Cederberg mountain range travels north for about 50km, marking the boundary of the Western Cape region. These mountains give the soil of the Cederberg wine region a particularly sandy feature, and this is considered to be good for the growing of some vines, since sandstone can retain water for longer. There are many sandstone rock formations in the area, containing shale and sometimes fossils of fish dating back millions of years. These soils are the reason why the Cederberg district is considered to be a ward, even though it is not included in any district. In some discussions of the subject, Cederberg is considered to be a region, rather than just a smaller ward, but there is just not enough land that is not occupied by other regions for it to make this case. Instead, it is suitably considered to be a ward.
The soil of Cederberg is a prime location for the Fynbos plants to the south side of the mountains, and scrub dessert in the North. The cedar is found rarely in the area, and Protea are more common than any other plant. The nature of the vegetation in this ward is considered important because it is part of the floral kingdom, making it an important conservation place for South Africa and environmental legislation has been enacted to ensure that the area is protected. Wine makers have also come together to form the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative, and this encourages the growth of Fynbos where vines cannot be planted.
The other aspect of the Cederberg ward is the weather. The wine farm in the region is the highest in South Africa, but there are other people vying to produce wines from the area because the weather is suitable for this. The air is dry and arid, rather resembling the dry deserts of the Portuguese wine-growing regions, and this makes the ward a good location for many red wines. The climate can be particularly bad in winter, because the vineyards are above the snow level, but on the other hand, this allows the vines to become dormant, a natural phase in its recovery after a harvest.
The ward remains one of the most isolated and difficult to understand, but with the encouragement of conservation methods, and the planting of suitable vines through sustainable viticulture, the ward could become a place of note for wine enthusiasts.