Like many other South African wine estate's, Alto started out as part of a larger farm known as Groenrivier (Green River) which was first granted by Simon van der Stel in 1693.
Although vines were planted from an early date in the farm's history, they were not an important part of the farm's produce until the 1920s.In 1919, the then owner of Groenrivier, Hennie Malan, divided the farm vertically in order to sell half of the land to his brother-in-law.
The development of Malan's share was a co-operative venture between himself and his son, Manie.
In the next few years they set about converting this partial wilderness into a wine farm, to which they gave the Latin name, Alto.
The name is a reference both to the altitude of the vineyards and their own aspirations.
They built a homestead in 1919 and a cellar in 1920 and both stand relatively unchanged at the modern Alto Wine Estate.
Malan's choice of red varietals was based on a shrewd assessment of the nature of his land.
When Piet du Toit bought Alto in 1959, neither he nor the experts he called in for analysis and advice could fault the planting or the wine created by the Malans.
When Piet retired in 1983, his son, Hempies du Toit, a well-known Springbok rugby player, succeeded him.
Hempies continued the fine red winemaking traditions of his predecessors until May 2000 when current winemaker, Schalk van der Westhuizen took the reins.