The Stellenbosch wine district is so unique in the world that it is easy to understand why parts of it have been given a ward status for the Wine of Origin Labels. Stellenbosch is perhaps the most prolific area for wine making in South Africa, as wine growers have flocked to its fields in order to reap the natural benefits of its situation. Simonsberg-Stellenbosch is just one area that has been declared a ward, but in fact almost all of the areas of Stellenbosch have been covered by ward status, and in a system where the largest regions do not get the most wards, this is a significant factor.
Simonsberg-Stellenbosch is one of a number of areas in the district which has a unique signature, the mixture of soils which make it easy to grow vines of every variety, The Simonsberg mountain range is something which is hard to avoid, and many wine farmers do exactly the opposite, instead choosing to locate their farms close by to the mountain, or even on top of it. This mountain provides comfort and stability, and the estates which are higher up the mountain will also ensure themselves a level of cold climate farming which will help their grapes to develop slowly, and get more character.
The Simonsberg-Stellenbosch soil is the first thing that needs to be remembered when purchasing a bottle of wine naming this ward. The soil of most of Stellenbosch is the same variety, a bright red clay, mixed with shale and decomposing granite. The lower down the mountain, the more red clay there is in proportion to the granite, but it is the latter which really make a difference to the characteristics of the wine. The significance of this soil type cannot be overstated, and that is why the whole of Stellenbosch is recognised as the most successful wine producing area in South Africa.
Climate control for farmers living at the top of the mountain, or as high up as possible, and this is where the Simonsberg-Stellenbosch ward issue can be very useful in deciding whether cool or cold growing really works best. The cold growers maintain that the grapes really do flourish after a cold spell, and with consistently cold temperatures are able to produce wines which have a very definite character and distinctive taste or aroma. The wine should also taste better when cold weather is employed as a tool, because there are not so many additives in the wine, less flavourings, for example.
The Simonsberg-Stellenbosch ward is just one area in a district of great distinction among wine producers and wine drinkers alike. Anyone who has seen a few bottles of wine from South Africa will recognise the Stellenbosch name immediately. It therefore makes sense to try and protect as many of the areas of Stellenbosch as possible, and this can partly be done through designating significant areas as wards. These wards can then use grapes from the same location to make their wines, and put the ward descriptive stamp on their bottles.