Paarl, South Africa

Vilafonté is the first American and South African joint wine-making venture. This ground-breaking red wine project is a partnership between a respected group of wine specialists from South Africa (Mike Ratcliffe) and the United States (Zelma Long and Dr. Phil Freese). The name Vilafonté is derived from the primary soil type of the 100-acre estate.  The soil in these vinyeards has been recorded as one of the oldest soil types in the world—somewhere between 750,000 and 1.5 million years old. The character of the soil is what forms the foundation of Vilafonté wines. It has deeply evolved over the centuries, and has been stripped of much of its inherent capacity, which encourages smaller vines, lower yields and highly concentrated fruit.

Vilafonté produces only 2 wines: Series C (a Cabernet driven Bordeaux blend) and Series M (a Malbec/Merlot based Bordeaux blend)


Region: Paarl, South Africa

Year Founded: 1996

Proprietors: Mike Ratcliffe, Zelma Long, Phil Freese

Winemaker: Zelma Long & Martin Smith

Size of property: 42 hectares (100 acres)

Amount of Property Planted: 16hectares (40 acres)

Terroir: Vilafonte is located in the Paarl-Simonsberg region on the northern side of the Simonsberg Mountains. Annual rainfall in the area is approximately 500 mm (20 inches) with gravelly clay and well-weathered soil. The “Vilafontes” soil type is the namesake for the vineyard and the wines. The area is gently sloping with a northwesterly facing topography, and all of the rows run parallel to the downhill slope. Vine spacing is at 1.2 meter in-row by 1.6 meter between-row to give 5,208 vines per hectare (or 4 feet by 5.25 feet, resulting in 2,110 vines per acre).

Annual Production: Series C: ~28 barrels Series M: ~36 barrels

Varieties Cultivated: IPW: Integrated production of Wines

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