No slope’s too steep for Stellenzicht as it sweeps forward

Lifestyle

No slope’s too steep for Stellenzicht as it sweeps forward

New owners are redefining the estate’s wines as L’Ré Burger coaxes fine tastes from existing plantings

Michael Fridjhon

Cape wine farms have been around for more than 300 years. While there is some dispute among the several claimants to “first Cape estate” status, there’s no real question about when grapes were first crushed at the Dutch settlement. Jan van Riebeeck’s diary records the historic event, which took place on February 2 1659. This makes SA unique among established wine producers in that it can accurately record its date of birth.

There must be at least a hundred producers whose cellars are situated on properties that can present a pedigree of more or less continuous wine production predating the end of the 17th century. Stellenbosch was established in 1679: almost all the burghers who received land planted vines. Until quite recently, they were generally better at wanting to be wine producers than they were at making good wine.

Looking beyond the properties that lay claim to three centuries of heritage, some farms are modern subdivisions of old estates. Kanonkop, for example, was parcelled off from Uitkyk in 1930. Its reputation has long since superseded that of the original farm. Stellenzicht is another: in the early 1980s it was acquired by the late Hans Schreiber from the Bairnsfather-Cloete family, sometime owners of many of the Cape’s great estates. It was their ancestor, Hendrik Cloete, who created the legendary Vin de Constance...

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