To our great surprise, a plant previously thought to be extinct, was found on the land that will eventually become the new Stellar Winery vineyards.
As part of the process of developing a new vineyard, we will be registering a conservancy to protect the rich historical and botanical heritage of the land. We’re proud to report that, because the vineyards will be organic, there is no risk of toxicity to the conservancy.
Long Story Short…
Three years ago, Stellar Winery moved from the original small cellar at Trawal to the renovated former KWV brandy and juice distillery on the farm Kys Halte.
The move has been beneficial in so many ways. Stellar is now easily able to process 20 000 tons of grapes per harvest, and the quality of our wine has improved.
Our markets have grown so fast that Stellar will soon be faced with a deficit of organic, fair trade red wine grapes. To make up the expected shortfall, a 128-ha vineyard development is being planned on the virgin soils of the Kys site over the next 5 years.
The Environmental Impact Assessment
We were required to undergo an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in order to plant the new vineyard. The results showed us that a conservancy was absolutely necessary on this site. The assessment also revealed:
- That the area is of low paleontological sensitivity
- Seven areas contain significant open Middle to Late Stone Age sites containing lithic artifacts. Six of these areas will be excluded from the vineyard development.
- The existence of four plant species of conservation concern. Two of the species are Red-Listed as Rare, one as Near-Threatened and the fourth, Ornithogalum halli, was previously thought extinct. This is a rather significant find and every effort will be made to safeguard its known habitat on site.
Apart from registration and further research, there are a few things we need to do to secure the conservancy area. This includes:
- The rehabilitation of 1.1km of road running through the site
- The removal of 4km of asbestos pipeline
- The removal of alien vegetation
- The erection of an animal-friendly barrier
It’s estimated that the conservancy will be up and running in 3 years. Once the area is ready, staff will need to be trained in conservation methods. People who work at the surrounding vineyards will also need training so that they’re aware of the project. 20 short-term positions will be created for this phase of the project, of which two will be team leaders. Five permanent positions for conservancy maintenance will also be created.
What the conservancy means for the vineyard project
Following the EIA report, Stellar has permission to plant 39 ha of vineyards on the Kys site, equivalent to the amount of water available. Once further water rights have been secured, the company will seek permission for further planting, guided by the EIA.