Biodiversity

Hartenberg lies in its own self-contained valley. A pure water source flows through the entire length of the property into a pristine wetland system, which comprises 65 of the farm's 170 hectares and will never be cultivated.

Conservation Philosophy

The owners and staff have accepted responsibility for the conservation of the property through considered and sustainable use of all natural resources. Our stated intention is for a pristine environment where nature thrives.

Some of the birds who visit and nest with us:

  • Burchell's Coucal (rare in the Western Cape)
  • African Fish Eagle (summer visitor)
  • Spotted Eagle Owl (three breeding pairs)
  • Jackal Buzzard
  • Cape Frankolin
  • Barn Owl
  • Fork-Tailed Drongo

Some of the animals who call Hartenberg home:

  • Civet
  • Mongoose grey and water
  • Porcupine
  • Caracal
  • Three species of Antelope
  • Arum Lilly and Cape Micro frogs

Biodiversity and Wine Initiatives (BWI)

In 1997, an 8 km electric fence was erected around the farm's perimeter, and within two years, substantial increases in animal sightings and nesting birdlife were recorded.

Water Initiatives

A water quality management report was conducted for the estate in 2003 in order to optimise water use, and to re-devise domestic and cellar effluent systems. The result has  been grey water being aerated and filtered, then re-used for vineyard irrigation.

This is unique in the South African wine industry. The system was designed by Austrian aquatic engineer, Eric Smollgruber. The system is considered to be of a world class standard and is visited by foreign water engineers as an ideal solution, allowing Hartenberg to recycle 100% of its waste water with this technique.

Vineyard irrigation is now only used when necessary, with soil probe and leaf pressure bomb readings triggering watering.

In order to prevent soil erosion and silt being carried into the wetland, most water furrows have been cement-lined or hand-packed with stone.

Alien Vegetation Removal

Investing in the removal of alien trees such as Blue Gum and Pine has increased water availability and seen longer run-offs after rains into our springs, while the removal of alien vegetation from the wetland area has encouraged indigenous species to prosper.

Other Initiatives

The farm has gradually moved from annual to permanent cover crops between vines which provide additional natural habitat for fauna.

A moratorium on the removal and disturbance of any indigenous flora or fauna has been declared, and all staff have been educated as to the reasons for this.

Disused telephone poles have been erected at strategic points for use by raptors.

No yearly fertilizers have been added for the past ten years. Instead, annual leaf and soil analyses determine maintenance nutrition for the vines and, should it be necessary, nitrogen is only added locally in the form of organics like chicken manure.

Nitrogen-fixing cover crops are also used.    

Our refuse management strategy in 2001 changed from traditional burning or burying, to contracting the removal of refuse by an outside party. The large rubbish dump was covered over and was completely rehabilitated.

Hartenberg does not follow the traditional fixed and preventative fungal spray timetable. Instead, three strategically placed weather stations on the farm record conditions conducive to mildew infection. If an impending threat is noted, an SMS is sent to the viticulturist alerting him. With the guesswork taken out of spraying,  we have managed to reduce our spray costs by 50%, and far less chemical is now applied to the environment.

Future Initiatives

  • Erection of bird hides.
  • Scientific surveys to record amphibian, bird and plant statuses and diversity.
  • Re-establishment of fynbos in suitable vacant sites.
  • Investigate use of fynbos as a possible permanent cover crop.
  • Removal of Kikuyu grass areas in a specific portion of the wetland.