The soils of the Western Cape are approximately 4 and a half million years old. These are extremely old compared to the relatively young soils of Europe. More nutrients are thus found in the lower levels of the soils in Darling, and with a nice deep root system, the bush vines work their way down and reach these to bring forward more fruit flavours in the grapes.
The cold Benguela current running the length of the West Coast, has a great cooling effect on the vineyards of the area. The average temperature as a result of this current is about 3-5 degrees Centigrade lower than that of the inland Swartland area. Cool mist/fog from this current coats the hills in the morning till about 11AM, leading to a cool climate effect, which works well for white varietals.
A cool Westerly breeze originating from the ocean, whiffs along the area and also cools down the midday temperatures. The great difference between day and night temperatures also leads to cold climate conditions and thus great cold climate varietal production, where the warmer inland influence suits the warmer climate varietals better.
The variation in topography gives Darling Cellars greater diversity to do site and varietal selection and this leads to not only greater diversity, but also better pairing of all these elements to make wines of exceptional character and natural balance.
About 95% of the total 1300ha vineyards from which Darling Cellars sources its fruit are in “bush vine” format. About the same amount of the vineyards are un-irrigated as well. The advantages of bush vine are plentiful, but the most important attribute for Darling Cellars is that a bush vine is quite hardened against drought. As the water resources in the area are very limited, the only choice is to plant bush vines.
The natural ability of a bush vine to regulate its yield is of great importance in an area where one cannot irrigate. In a dry year, the bush vine will carry fewer bunches and in a wetter year, it’ll carry more bunches of grapes. This leads to great fruit concentration and a natural balance when the grapes are harvested.
With a total of 2860ha natural land, Darling is preserving 2.58 hectare of natural veld for every hectare of vines. With more than 10% of the floral species in only 1% of the area of the Cape Floral Kingdom, Darling truly is a unique region amongst the grape growing areas.