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Cavalli Estate


The wines below are represented by Sovereign Selection in the United States.

The Estate

Cavalli is born from a family’s love for Horses, Wine and Cuisine and the sublime result when all three passions find a single home in the Stellenbosch Wine Route district.

In this exquisite context, Cavalli strives to become a world class estate in terms of its enduring aspiration for quality with the principle of integrity at its heart.

Cavalli’s in house label Cheval D’or produces wine from vines situated in the world-renowned Stellenbosch winelands. The Helderberg region in particular is known locally as the Golden Triangle of South African wine.

Cooled by summer Atlantic Ocean breezes off False Bay, the region enjoys a near-perfect climate and combines with the other terroir elements to develop complexity.

The vines lie on the slopes and in the foothills nestled below the Helderberg mountain and combines the influences of both the mountain and maritime climate.

The Vineyard

Craig Barnard

Cavalli's Wine & Vineyard philosophy derived itself from a desire to establish quite clearly what it is that the brand ideals are and what we would want to achieve on a broader scale. Our main goal is to produce world class wines with a very local character and a strong identity so to be clearly recognised as wines from the Helderberg region. Cavalli endeavours to be the benchmark with regards to Terroir and quality for Helderberg in the years to come in a bid to elevate the Helderberg to a rightfully deserved status of a region that can compete against the top in the world.

We strive for our immediate environment to be represented in the characteristics of our wines while at the same time remaining custodians of the land we have inherited, ultimately which falls within the Cape Floral Kingdom, a Unesco World Heritage site. Our passion for the environment is one of the biggest driving forces behind the way we operate at Cavalli and so, by introducing sustainable farming practices, we hope to enhance the health of our vineyards and re-introduce diversity of species in general.

We aim to produce wines in a sustainable manner of such a superior quality that it will come to be the benchmark of sustainability and instead of being a compromise for the final product, instead we aim to meticulously refine the practice to directly benefit quality. Cavalli Estate strives to produce intriguing  wines that will trigger the imagination of the local wine industry and it's consumers. Our focus falls on varieties such as Shiraz, Grenache, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Verdelho.

Our wines should push the boundaries and create new possibilities regarding style and quality and our vineyard practices are focused to extend the age of our vineyards to increase the number of older vineyards in South Africa for quality and marketing purposes.

The Helderberg region of Stellenbosch is nearest the ocean and therefore lends the estate to the cooling influence of the Southerly winds. Our soils contain large amounts of ''koffieklip'' combined with a higher percentage of clay in the subsoil. Our choice of varieties to invest in were largely based on these environmental factors. Consequently the wines that are born from this region show elegance, expressive fruit and spicy aromas in varietals such as Shiraz.


Craig Barnard

Craig Barnard - Profile

I have been in the wine industry since 2004. I grew up in Johannesburg and after finishing school I moved to Wellington where I did my first harvest for DGB (Douglas Green Bellingham). It was here where I decided that this was where my skill and passion lay.

Since graduating from Elsenburg in 2009 I have gained a wealth of local and international experience. I have worked for an array of top wine estates learning from some of South Africa’s leading winemakers. I have also had the privilege of working for Chateau Angelus, a Premier Grand Cru Estate in Bordeaux and Williams Selyem, a leading Pinot noir producer in Sonoma.

I joined Cavalli in November 2014 after a 2 year stint as Assistant Winemaker for De Morgenzon. I bring a fresh outlook on the brand and innovation with regards to style. I believe that picking fruit early allows for fresher, fruitier wines with good ageing potential. I strongly uphold the concept of sustainable viticutural practices and play an integral part of developing the vineyards such that only the best quality fruit is produced. “Great fruit can only produce Great wine if nurtured and cared for meticulously”.


Mating pair of Blue cranes
The national bird of South Africa-only 25,700 individuals remain after beginning a sudden population decline from around 1980 and now are classified as vulnerable. Blue cranes only pair with one mate (monogamous), and despite being very social animals are extremely territorial while breeding, They nest in summer and the laying date can be anytime between August and April. Cavalli’s Cranes laid their first two eggs in Oct 2011 after the perimeter fence was complete and secured their habitat. The Blue Crane is a bird very special to the amaXhosa, who call it indwe. When a man distinguished himself by deeds of valour he was often decorated by a chief by being presented with the feathers of this bird. Men so honoured – they wore the feathers sticking out of their hair – were known as men of ugaba (trouble) - the implication being that if trouble arose, these men would reinstate peace and order.

Mating Pair of Steenbok
The Steenbok, Raphicerus campestris, is a common small antelope of southern and eastern Africa. Steenbok are typically solitary, except for when a pair come together to mate. However, it has been suggested that pairs occupy consistent territories while living independently, staying in contact through scent markings, so that they know where their mate is most of the time. Breeding occurs throughout the year, although more fawns are born November to December in the southern spring–summer. Cavalli’s Steenbok had their first baby after enclosed perimeter fencing kept poachers and their hunting dogs at bay.

The Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris) is the best known of the guineafowl bird family, Numididae, breeds in Africa, mainly south of the Sahara-Flocks of guineafowl have flourished in recent years in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town, where they seem to have adapted remarkably well. Guineafowl are particularly well-suited to consuming massive quantities of ticks, which might otherwise spread lyme disease.

Chameleons-The Cape Dwarf Chameleon (Bradypodion pumilum), is a chameleon native to the South African province of the Western Cape where it is restricted to the region around Cape Town. Living as they do in the area now dominated by the city of Cape Town, their natural habitat is being largely covered by urban expansion.


Fynbos Protea

The character of Cavalli is the quite amazing sense of place, nestled on a prominent ascent between Somerset West and Stellenbosch with views of Cape Town to the West and the majestic Helderberg mountain range to the East. Cavalli is adding new life, work opportunities and inspiration to those that work there and the whole local community.

The style of this garden is determined largely by the strong lines of the access roads, paddocks and buildings (which comprise of a large barn housing stables and an indoor arena, a Managers house and pavilions on either side of an outdoor arena with bleachers). Their statement is functional and their juxtaposition* to the landscape is enhanced by the natural plantings of fynbos and by the majestic Helderberg Mountains. In order for the garden to sit comfortably alongside the structures, roads and paddocks the plant selection is a careful balance of large trees (Some exotic), mainly indigenous shrubs, perennials and groundcovers. A natural swale directs the surface rain water off the road and surrounds to a retention pond in the form of a small dam at the bottom of the road. Large rocks and river boulders create ponds and slow down the water flow within the swale. Ornamental grasses, water loving plants and flowering perennials spill over onto the edge of the road. A twenty meter wide planting of plane trees, shrubs and fynbos further strengthens this swale.

To the passer-by the appearance is that of a working farm (which it is) with an Olive grove, Lavender fields, Vineyards and Citrus. The Entrance gateway floats on the boundary line and the visitor is directed toward the avenue up past the paddocks to the main Barn.

A formidable avenue of Pin oaks add balance and character to the barn, besides welcome shade. The manager’s cottage looks over a formal garden toward twin dams and still further down to a visitor’s cottage and meadow garden.

Other indigenous plants have been chosen to meld in with the endemic vegetation; seed has been harvested from the endemic species pool to be incorporated into hydro-seeding new planting areas.

The main background planting consists of carefully constructed fynbos groups - colour coordinated with particular detail to texture and variety. The existing fynbos lands are interspersed between the working vineyards, dams and waterways, farmland, paddocks and abound with a large diversity of wild flowers, wildlife and atmosphere. Sightings of Guinea fowl, Chameleon, Waterfowl, Steenbok and other wildlife are a regular occurrence.

Cavalli is contributing substantially toward the Botanic Biosphere of the Cape by literally planting thousands of species which will attract and feed more birds, butterflies, chameleons and other wildlife species endemic to the Cape Region and Floral Kingdom.

Stud Farm

Stud Farm

The name “i Cavalli” in Italian indeed means “The Horses”, & so this ethos of mutual respect, dedication & passion infiltrates every aspect of life at Cavalli.

The stud accordingly aspires to breed & train
world-class Saddlebred horses; horses that singularly
embody these qualities of Beauty, Power & Harmony.

The Cavalli Stud Farm and Training facility is situated on over 110 hectares of land, supporting vineyards and olive groves together with vast expanses of newly introduced indigenous landscaping and over 400 newly planted mature trees.

The training facility includes an indoor training arena attached to 20 state of the art stables. The design concept informing the architecture of the stables was that of a space that facilitated as much harmony within the lives of its four-legged residents as could be achieved, in what is effectively a disciplined and rigorously run training barn.

A palette of structural steel buffered with the warmth of grey-oiled timber cladding creates a space that’s architecturally honest to its innately ‘barn’-like’ function whilst being context appropriate and aesthetically pleasing.

Natural light and ventilation were capitalized on through use of high-level windows, a central massive skylight and strategically positioned louvres to create a space that stays comfortable and practical to maintain year round.

Stables were designed with as many interactive opportunities for the horses as possible, who are by nature innately sociable creatures. Stables have dual frontage, with front stable doors designed to be full-frontage custom stainless steel bar sliding doors; and rear stable doors opening onto 10m long “run-out” pens. Automatic watering and feeding systems allow fresh and ad-lib food and water supply in a hygienic and efficient manner.

Dust levels are kept at a minimum with the utilization of an innovative wax-fibre arena floor footing material whilst providing an unparalleled surface for training stability and equine joint support. Seamless poured-rubber flooring keeps stable floors warm and offset the need for extra dust-generating bedding material.

Horses are conditioned to respect the distinction between ‘training-time’ and ‘relaxing-time’ through use of a “Ready Room” where all tacking up is done in preparation for training. The stable remains their private space exclusively for rest and feed. Consequently the mutual respect between trainer and horse for the boundaries created and what is expected result in a far more productive and harmonious training regimen.

Ready rooms are designed to be clean and functional with grey oiled oak timber joinery contrasting with champagne brick pavers which edge the slip resistant and easily washable seamless rubber flooring.

A separate vet area is fitted with seamless rubber floors which slope to a floor drain for easy cleaning. Custom designed vet 'crush' allows on site simple veterinary procedures to be performed and is designed with lateral opening side bars for easy access with horses that are difficult to manage.

A fully air-conditioned, floor to ceiling glazed gallery space equipped with lounge and bar permit the visitor to witness the working horses from an aerial vantage point whilst being hosted within a comfortable and contemporary space.