Owing to the prehistoric origins of Simonsberg and other mountain ranges in the area, the Cape can lay claim to having some of the oldest vineyard soils in the world.
The dominant soil forms found here are neocutanic soils of the Oakleaf and Tukulu forms.
The clay content in the subsoil is between 15% and 30%.
In the lower lying areas of Kanonkop, wet (hydromorphic) soils are found, which range from light textured sand and loam to wet clay soils.
The closely related Oakleaf and Tukulu are made up of ancient granites that had decomposed during the warm, wet Pliocene Epoch. These are the red soils on the eastern slopes which reach the top end of the farm lying at 365m. The bulk of the Pinotage vineyards are planted here.
The Kroonstad soil form lies on the lower, flat parts of the farm. The vineyards directly to the right of the entrance lie on these soils, markedly paler in appearance than the Tukulu and Oakleaf soils on the slopes.
Other soil types present on the farm are Vilafontes, Westleigh and Hutton.
The firm clay components of Kanonkop’s Oakleaf and Tukulu soils, which are also rich in ancient decomposed granites, not only provide firm footing for the vineyards, but also allow the healthy growth of unirrigated bush vines, owing to the clay’s capacity to retain water.
The Kroonstad soils lower down are of lesser potential, and their main problem is seasonal wetness, which reduces optimal root development and inherent vigour. To rectify this problem, Kanonkop has ridged these soils to improve surface drainage and has installed sub-surface drainage.
These measures result in a bigger soil volume available for root development. These soils now host the vineyards of the famed Paul Sauer red blend.
Unirrigated Pinotage bush vines growing on Oakleaf and Tukulu soil forms
The ridged Kroonstad soils of the lower-lying vineyards