After 12 vintages in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley – ‘Heaven-and-Earth’ in Afrikaans – working intimately with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Hannes Storm discovered two tiny parcels of land with particularly exceptional terroirs. The two vineyards, one in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and the other in the Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, were planted in 2008 to Pinot Noir. Storm’s maiden vintage saw the light in 2012 and, after spending 18 months in bottle, the wines were released in August 2014.
Storm handcrafts his Vrede Pinot Noir and Vrede Chardonnay from low-vigour, stony, clay-rich Bokkeveld (‘Buck Veld’) shale soil in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, his Ignis Pinot Noir from decomposed granite soil in the Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and his Ridge Pinot Noir, also from low-vigour, stony, clay-rich Bokkeveld shale soil in the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge. Storm Wines is the only producer with Pinot Noirs from each of the three appellations in the Hemel-en-Aarde.
Storm Wines strives to steer the purest characteristics of each vineyard site towards bottle and cork. Small production, careful viticulture, minimal intervention in the cellar and a constant nod to the Old World present the wines with distinctive personality and character.
The Hemel-en-Aarde Area
The Hemel-en-Aarde is nestled behind the quaint fishing village and popular holiday town of Hermanus, 120 km from Cape Town. Southern right whales visit and calve in Walker Bay annually from July to November. Apart from the whales and as a holiday destination, the scenic town is also home to the renowned Hemel-en-Aarde winegrowing area.
In 2009, the Hemel-en-Aarde was divided into three separate wards – the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, the Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge – with a total of 450 ha of vineyards. Located on the R320 road, which connects Hermanus with Caledon, the Hemel-en-Aarde has a maritime climate. Influenced by the cool Atlantic Ocean, it is considered an exceptional cool-climate winegrowing region. The prevailing summer wind, the Southeaster, is a moderating influence, as is the Benguela Current, which flows up from Antarctica. A higher rainfall average than the rest of the Cape’s wine regions makes a significant difference in drought years.
Both the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge appellations are established on clay-rich, Bokkeveld shale-derived soils, while the vineyards of the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge are higher in elevation and more varied in aspect. The Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley’s vineyards have significant clay content in the subsoil but are mostly located in lighter-structured decomposed granite soil.