MICHAEL FRIDJHON: Songs and dances, smoke and mirrors
Alto and Middelvlei prefer to celebrate great histories with unfortunate narratives
Alto Estate’s 100th birthday bash was a suitably joyous occasion, a party that pretended to be no more than just that, as if any attempt to unpack more detail would tamper with the lights-and-mirrors of illusion. This is what happens when marketing departments prefer a chosen narrative over a much more interesting, but less easy to communicate, storyline.
Alto is much older than 100 years, but also a little younger. The original title deeds date back to 1693 and grapes were grown there from the 18th century onwards. Hennie Malan subdivided the property (which was known as Groenrivier) in 1919, sold the lower half to his brother-in-law and retained the upper portion (hence the name Alto) for himself.