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Conservation in Action

Star Hill Wines

BWI-logoThe Tradouw Highlands, one of the newest and smallest wine wards in the Klein Karoo wine region, is the home of Star Hill Wines. The Tradouw Highlands is an exceptional area located some 750m above sea level on a plateau extending from the Langeberg Mountains into the Little Karoo. The high altitude, low temperatures and fertile soils make the area ideal for the production of a variety of deciduous fruit and grapes. The first vineyards were planted in 2004 and a total of 16ha are now under production. Of the total farm area of 2,168ha, some 1000ha of land which extends from Mountain Fynbos which borders on Marloth Nature Reserve to Renosterbosveld bordering on Sanbona Game Reserve is set aside for conservation. That is 46% of the total farm which has been set aside for conservation development and which forms a unique link between two conservation areas.

Star Hill Wines is located in an areas of diversity across the transition between the fynbos and karoo biomes providing the opportunity to conserve a significant vegetation area.  The farm represents Northern Langeberg Mountain Fynbos to Montagu Shale Fynbos transition. A variety of animals including caracal, baboon, grey duiker, steenbok, bushbuck, klipspringer, grey rhebok, black backed jackal, mongoose, porcupine and tortoise have been recorded.  Seasonally large numbers of blue cranes forage on open fields. We have recorded 147 different bird species on the farm ranging from fynbos residents, waterbirds and karoo species. The farm is historically significant with the original farmstead built in 1790 and upgraded in 1820 still standing.  The original wagon route and toll house are also still visible.

Our fruit farming activities are governed by GlobalGAP and grape farming by IPW principles. We aim to manage and minimise our impact on the environment. We managed our carbon footprint actively and aim to reduce our carbon impact. We keep record of all energy consumption both fuel and electricity with the aim to reduce over time – our Energy Policy aims to reduce our electricity consumption to 20% of the 2012 level largely through active management and solar PV installation (we have installed 170kW of 600kW planned). Performance against our Energy Policy is independently reviewed by the NBI.  Our water management approach is to improve water efficiency. Boreholes are used only in dry periods. We have installed drip irrigation on all our vineyards and new fruit orchards to reduce water use. All of our vineyards and orchards will be mulched to improve moisture retention and soil health – we are clearing wattle and chipping into mulch. We have embarked on an extensive alien plant clearing programme to remove pine, wattle and Port Jackson from our rivers to improve stream flow. We have a clear recycling policy and all glass, plastic, paper and cardboard, oil, metal and cans are recycled.

Our conservation area is managed actively to ensure recovery of the plant layer and increase plant and animal diversity. Our aim is to incorporate the conservation area into a larger conservancy, Tradouw Conservancy including other conservation areas and land owners to create a significant area under conservation – c. 10,000ha.