Images from Stellar Organics Winery


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The Rose & Crown Hotel
Le Huret, Alderney
UK Channel Islands

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Stellar Organics Winery

Stellar Winery is situated 275 km north of Cape Town on the road to Namibia. The winery makes use of a semi-arid climate, unrivalled refrigeration capacity and extensive in-house engineering skills to produce modern, Fairtrade organic wines. The cellar processes upwards of 5 000 tons of organic grapes from farms straddling the northern boundary of the Olifants River wine region and Namaqualand. This is an area famous for its spring flowers and is also the only semi-arid Biosphere hotspot in the world.

Working closely with the farms, our Winemaker, Dudley Wilson, often 'pushes the edges of the envelope' in order to produce wines that surprise and delight.


Stellar Winery was the first organic vineyard and cellar operation to receive the highly sought after Fairtrade accreditation. Fairtrade companies undertake to empower economically disadvantaged workers and ensure that a fair price is paid for the product along the whole supply chain. Both farm and cellar staff are transported to and from work. Families receive health care and the permanent services of a community worker. Workers receive free housing, electricity and water and all schooling and child-care facilities are subsidised. A percentage of the wholesale price of the wine is paid directly back to the Stellar Fairtrade Workers' Trust. The Fairtrade umbrella bodies in the various export destinations supervise this process. For more information on Fairtrade and the Stellar Fairtrade Workers' Trust, go to:

The Vineyards

Apart from operations to maintain the organic status of the vineyards,they implement recognised viticulture practices in order to ensure the best possible grape quality. Additional trellis wires have been attached to extended trellis poles and vines are trained to the vertical shoot positioning system (VSP). A lot of work is done to the canopy to prevent bunches and leaves from experiencing deep shade. Aerated and 'thin' canopies are less likely to develop fungal diseases and allow for even grape ripening and quality. This ensures good colour development and reduces the potassium levels in the juice.

Hot growing conditions dictate that irrigation is done with the aid of sensors and computers. Water is via drip lines and regulated deficit irrigation (RDI).


The Winemaker decides when to pick. Chemical analysis is used as a tool, but the final decision relies more on flavour and tannin ripeness. Most picking is done by hand, into small plastic lug boxes or 450kg fruit bins. Care is taken to pick only ripe grapes and to ensure that the bins remain free of leaves and canes.


The cellar is built next to a table-grape packing facility. This means that they have an unrivalled refrigeration capacity, as the table grapes are only processed for eight weeks of the year, and the end of the table grape season dovetails with the start of the winemaking.

The lug boxes of both red and white grapes are force-cooled to 0oC before de-stemming and crushing. The low temperature of the crushed grapes makes it possible for them to avoid the use of sulphur dioxide (SO2) at this stage, as low temperatures inactivate bacteria and yeast.

The red grapes are de-stemmed, and the rollers adjusted so that a large percentage of berries pass by uncrushed. They are then dropped into a tank, via a bin on a forklift, and left to cold macerate for at least two weeks at 0oC.

After this process is complete, the juice is pumped to fermentation tanks and the whole berries are shovelled into a forklift bin and transported, via an enormous crane, to the top of these same fermentation tanks and dropped in. This method means that they avoid putting the unfermented skins and pips through a pump, giving fresh fruit, dark colours and soft tannins.

Prior to inoculation with yeast, the wine has to warm. Invariably a wild ferment starts before the optimum temperatures have been reached. If it smells good they let it carry on, otherwise yeast additions are made as soon as the temperature is correct. Inoculated yeasts are well activated and above-average numbers ensure that they take over from the wild yeasts.

A computer regulates the temperature of the ferment and automatic valves maintain an even fermentation temperature. To wet the cap during ferments they make use of the delestage technique and aerated pump over. Delestage is the draining of the fermenting juice to a lower tank and allowing the weight of the cap to press out the concentrated juice around the skins. After three to four hours, the wine is pumped back over the top of the cap so that it rises up through the must (juice) like a reverse coffee plunger. This ensures that all the skins are surrounded by fresh must and that all the yeast is aerated and brought back into circulation.

The two Bucher XP 150 Ortal flow Presses they have are the most modern in the industry and help to ensure that they get the best quality juice and wine from their grapes.

Twenty-four hours after pressing, the wine is racked off its gross lees. A second racking is given twenty-four hours later and malo-lactic cultures are then added to the wine to ensure a rapid and clean malo-lactic fermentation.

No-Sulphur Added Wines

In the 2004 season, the cellar began experimenting with the production of wines to which no sulphur dioxide was added. The culmination of this process has been the production of a range of no-sulphur added red wines. The 2006 season will see a complete range of both red and white no-sulphur added wines.

What is Organic?

Organic means that no chemicals, pesticides or herbicides were used in the growing of the grapes. Only compost and organic materials are used, with indigenous vegetation for mulching. In the cellar the maximum allowable quantity of sulphur dioxide is half that of conventional wines and certain chemicals are forbidden.

What is Their Organic Policy?

They are committed to the principles of organic production and their dedication is shown by the following:

* The winery is a processing facility and its task is to maintain the organic status of the grapes during the production of wine and to do so in an environmentally responsible manner.
* Where possible waste products are recycled or reused. Skins from the press are composted and plans to make organic grape seed oil are well advanced.
* Water usage in the cellar is audited. Water has the solids screened from it and goes through aeration and an effective micro-organism treatment (EM), before being used for irrigation.
* Chemicals for cleaning and for use in winemaking are kept to a minimum and alternatives such as steam are used where possible.
* Wine is at all times recognized and respected as a natural product and additions and manipulations are therefore kept to a minimum so as not to compromise the integrity of the farms, the cellar and its products.

The organic policy will be formally reviewed before the start of each crush, and is open to review on an on-going basis.

Stellar Winery is supervised by SKAL International, an organic inspection body, accredited by the Dutch Accreditation Council RvA, whose very strict production criteria must be met for organic certification. Our Certificate of Accreditation number is: C412.

About The Five Organic Farms

There are no compromises on ethics and production values, and the farms are kept and managed in as natural a state as possible. A walk through the vineyards bears testament to this: the leaves on the vines are healthy and species of insects are varied and abundant. A soil examination reveals masses of earthworms - all indications of a healthy ecosystem.


The farm was bought by Deon Van Rhyn in 1990 and is situated 7 km south east of Vredendal in the Olifants River Valley, Namaqualand, West Coast, South Africa.

The total organic production is 44.2 hectares: 5 hectares Pinotage, 5 hectares Merlot, 20 hectares Shiraz, 6 hectares Cabernet Sauvignon, 6 hectares Chenin Blanc and 2.2 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc.

De Duinen

Bought by John Wiese in 1988, the farm is situated 3 km North East of Van Rhynsdorp in Namaqualand, West Coast, South Africa.

The farm has 793 hectares of natural vegetation and 20 hectares of vines. The natural vegetation is populated by small game.

The total organic hectares are 14.9: 2.2 hectares of Merlot, 9 hectares of Shiraz and 3.7 hectares Cabernet Sauvignon.


Troe-Troe was bought by Albert Wiese in 1995 and is adjacent to the Eastern border of Van Rhynsdorp, Namaqualand, West Coast, South Africa.

The farm has 705 hectares of natural vegetation and 14 hectares of vines. Like De Duinen, the natural vegetation is left for small game.

The total organic hectares are 13.7: 2.2 hectares of Merlot, 11.5 hectares Shiraz.


Owned by Jannie Spannenberg, Swartsbooisberg is situated adjacent to the Orange River, North-West of Kakamas in the Northern Cape.

The farm consists of 200 hectares of natural vegetation and 15 hectares of organic Colombard vines.


The vineyard, bought by the Rossouw brothers in 1989, is situated 5 km South of Trawal (270 km North of Cape Town on the N7).

The vineyard consists of 24.87 hectares of young vines: 4.2 hectares of Pinotage, 7 hectares Shiraz, 4.6 hectares Merlot, 0.9 hectares Cabernet Sauvignon, 4.88 hectares of Muscat d'Alexandrie, 1.14 hectares of Chardonnay and 2.15 of Colombard.


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If we can be of any assistance please contact us via email at or phone +44 (0)1481 823414 during business hours.

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