Neethlingshof Estate lies just outside Stellenbosch in the heart of the Cape winelands. The history of the Estate spans more than 300 years. In 1692, Willem Barend Lubbe, a German settler, began farming the site he had been granted by Governor of the Cape Simon van der Stel on the Bottelary Hills overlooking False Bay. He named the farm De Wolwedans, (The Dance of Wolves), having mistaken for wolves the packs of jackals roaming the countryside. In the late 1820’s the name was changed to reflect the surname of the then owner, Johannes Neethling. It is now owned by the Schrieber family.
Different grape varietals grown are Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Weisser Riesling, Chenin Blanc and Gewurztraminer. Since 2003 Neethlingshof has been following an active biodiversity orientated strategy in its farming practices. The estate is moving away from a mono culture of vines are actively promoting the return of the original Renosterveld in areas where vines used to grow. At the same time islands of already growing indigenous plants are deliberately planted or left in the vineyards.
The Maria is the name of the acclaimed Weisser Riesling Noble Late Harvest and honours Maria Magdalena Marais, the resourceful and feisty young widow who took over the building of the estate’s manor house after the death of her husband, Charles, in 1813. The home was completed the following year and is now a national monument. Assisted by two teenage sons, the widow Marais was responsible for developing a vibrant and viable farming operation that included 80 000 vines to produce 30 leaguers of wine and 1.75 leaguers of brandy a year.
The Weisser Riesling grapes for this wine come from Neethlingshof’s vineyards on a slope, exposed to the cooling mists of False Bay, which help to create the appropriate set of conditions under which botrytis cinerea (noble rot) can flourish to produce grapes of concentrated intensity. The grapes were picked from south-facing dryland vines planted in 1991 and 1992 in deep, red soils and situated 140 to 170 metres above sea level. The grapes were hand-picked at 40° – 44º Balling in April. The juice was fermented at 13º to 14ºC over 18 days with just 24 hours’ skin contact. No malolactic fermentation was allowed.