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Under scorching sun, the rugged Swartland soil shapes a rising star in handcrafted wines – The Observatory Cellar

It gets swelteringly hot under these great expanses of sky in the Swartland in summer. Hot and parched. Which makes it all the more miraculous how our bush vines have survived years of minimal attention and are now yielding once again with promise.

Fortunately our farm, Boschgaasfontein, lies in one of the western valleys of the Paardeberg, so the climate is slightly more temperate here. Cool breezes from the Atlantic bring welcome respite from the intense heat, tempering the rate at which our grapes ripen.

Boschgaasfontein farm is home to The Observatory Cellar. The old cellar is one of the original buildings constructed on the farm. It dates back to the1920s. Winemaking has been an integral part of the farm since this time.

Our harvests may be small, but the reserved rate of production allows us to get to know the intricacies of each cultivar and its intimate relationship with the soil. It is this close bond we have with nature that enables us to produce our handcrafted wines of unique character. The production volumes and time-proven approach of our cellar are characteristic of a boutique winery.


The 18 hectares (44.5 acres) of vineyards are dry-farmed, low-yielding bush vines mostly grown on the upper slopes of the Paardeberg, facing the cold Atlantic Ocean at about 400 metres above sea level. The soil consists mainly of decomposed sandstone, granite and some clay.

Some of these vines date back to the 1950s. Dedicated to rejuvenation and optimal pruning have given these old bushes a new lease on life – Producing the sort of grapes that this area of the Paardeberg has become renowned for, resulting in wines of linear minerality and fruit-forward freshness.

Our cultivars

We farm the following varietals – with assistance and much valued guidance from all our neighbours:

Chenin Blanc



Muscat d’Alexandrie (one of the oldest cultivars in South Africa. Also known as Hanepoot.)



View some of our plantings here.

Our first “proper” harvest – 2014

There was no moon in the sky as we prepared to harvest our first vintage since acquiring Boschgaasfontein in 2012. The moon was aligned directly between Earth and the Sun on 30th January 2014, so it was not visible from Earth. That did not detract from the excitement, and we were literally over the moon with the results.

The Shiraz, Pinotage and also a quantity of Chardonnay and Chenin grapes (all from rejuvenated vines) were harvested, vinified and bottled.