One thing that I love about the Western Cape is its rich history. There are many historical sites to see and sometimes it feels like you are in a different era. Wine farms form an integral part of the history of the Western Cape, dating as far back as the 17th century.
The Western Cape is also known for its majestic mountains and breathtaking landscapes. Many of these historic wine farms are situated near those majestic mountains, which reminds me of something you only see in fantasy movies. Except that this is reality.
The Lanzerac Wine Estate in Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch combines all these elements of history, beautiful scenery and good wine. Its initial name was Schoongezicht and its history dates back to 1692, when Governor Simon van der Stel gave the farm to Isaacq Schryver. It was also the place where W.A. van der Stel (the son of Simon) would live after he retired.
Since 1692 it had several owners, of which Mrs. Elizabeth Katherina English is the most notable. She bought the farm in 1914 and changed the name to Lanzerac. Mrs. English was the first to bottle Lanzerac wine on her land and today Lanzerac named their Chardonnay after her.
When driving through the front gate, the misty mountains, the clouds and the vineyards all created a dream-like picture which made me feel like I was in one of Tolkien’s novels.
When I entered the Lanzerac Tasting Room & Deli, I smelled the different aromas of food, coffee and wine. The tasting area has a warm and historic feel, with the fireplace and the pictures hanging on the wall. In the middle of the Tasting Room & Deli, you find a staircase that leads to the wine cellars.
Walking around the Estate, I was blown away by the history you find there. For a time I felt like I was walking right into the 1800s. It felt surreal knowing that about centuries ago, Schryver and others throughout the years were planting vineyards there and putting up all these different buildings.
The highlight for me was the Lanzerac Manor, dating back to 1830, built in the Cape Dutch style. This was where Mrs. English lived. Inside you find a lot of antiques, like the book case and the lamps in the reception area. This took me back to an era where you could sit in a comfortable chair with a glass of wine while reading a book. In recent times it operated as part of the Lanzerac Hotel.
Sadly on the 28th of May 2017, the building on the left of the Manor caught fire. Unfortunately a lot of historic items burnt down too, including a painting of the legendary ‘Doc’ Danie Craven. It is currently being rebuilt. Luckily the Manor is still standing, but the hotel will be closed for the duration of the restoration process.
The restoration reminds me very much of the South African people as a whole. As a nation with its diverse cultures and backgrounds, we have faced many challenging and difficult situations, but we have always found a way to overcome near impossible odds.
In a similar way, Lanzerac will rise again from the ashes of that fire and in true historic fashion this represents the South African fighting spirit.
Article from The Brink of Culture
Further information and resources:
Photo credits to Elmarie Berry (of Elmarie Berry Good Food). Visit her website here: https://www.elmarieberry.com/
The staff at Lanzerac for their friendly information. Visit their website here: https://www.lanzerac.co.za/
Further information taken from Karel Schoeman’s book Here & boere: Die kolonie aan die Kaap onder die Van der Stels, 1679-1712. Published in 2013 by Protea Boekhuis. Visit their website here: https://www.proteaboekhuis.com
Lanzerac Hotel & Spa. (2017). Lanzerac Wine Estate (Since 1692) | Hotel Accommodation. [online] Available at: http://www.lanzerac.co.za/ [Accessed 29 Jun. 2017].
Schoeman, K. 2013. Here & boere: Die kolonie aan die Kaap onder die Van der Stels, 1679-1712. Pretoria: Protea Boekhuis.