Money is what money does

The top of Lourensford road in Somerset West is a very special area. The rolling hills of Schaapenberg have been preserved for posterity as farmlands that abut suburban residential areas.

Lourensford Estate

Driving to Lourensford Estate really illustrates the late Dr Anton Rupert’s dictum – “money is what money does.” Mega-entrepreneur Christo Wiese has spent millions on Lourensford. His neighbour is Johann Rupert at Fleur du Cap. And Rupert’s neighbours are Anglo American’s Vergelegen Estate and the exquisite Morgenster Estate.

Had it not been for these latter-day Cecil Rhodes, these prime properties would have been gobbled up by developers and transformed into urban sprawl. Rhodes acquired his wealth as a means to an end – the furtherance of British civilisation and values.

If it was US-born Arthur Elliot (1870-1938) who recorded the beauty of Cape Dutch architecture for posterity, it was Sir Herbert Baker (who became known as Rhodes’ architect) who started the process of preserving these buildings for posterity. Rhodes was enthusiastic for the preservation of Cape Dutch architecture and the extension of its style by Baker in the face of the prevalent Victorian mania for wrought-iron work.

Elliot photographs: Alphen Manor House, a cottage in Bishopscourt, Imhoff’s Gift  (from Wikipedia)

Anton Rupert spent millions preserving and restoring natural and built environments throughout southern Africa, but families like the Cloete’s at Alphen and Jooste’s at Klein Constantia have also made an indelible mark on our heritage.

So next time you visit a breathtaking estate or historical building, look beyond the wine and the building’s function and do not envy the owners… be grateful for their contribution to our heritage.

Lourensford Estate, established in 1700 as part of Willem Adriaan van der Stel’s Vergelegen, is arguably one of the most beautiful wine estates in the world. Steeped in history and heritage, the estate also boasts an ultra-modern winery utilising technology unique in the Southern Hemisphere. The magnificent soils and diverse micro-climates create the ideal terroir for world-beating wines. Lourensford is fast-becoming one of the biggest wine estates in South Africa, with over 300 hectares of vines already planted.

Purchased in 1998 from David Gant, the estate became Wiese’s second magnificent winelands property. The other property is the landmark Lanzerac Hotel and Winery in Stellenbosch. Wiese’s goal was to make it one of the premier wine estates in SA. The first plantings of vines began in 2000 and the construction of the unique winery began in 2002 and was completed in record time. The first wines were vinified in 2003.

The estate also produces apples, pears and plums with almost 350 hectares under fruit. The mountain slopes are covered by pine plantations of approximately 900 hectares. Buchu (an indigenous herb) is also cultivated, as well as trout for the exclusive fly-fishing club. Healey’s cheesery  produces a modest output of some of the finest farmhouse cheeses in the Cape.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served daily at The Oaktree Restaurant, with a menu reflecting the best of South African and international cuisine.

Lourensford’s scenic beauty has hosted many local and international film shoots, starring some of Hollywood’s top actors. Annual sports and cultural events attract thousands of participants and spectators, but many wedding receptions and corporate functions are also held on the estate. There is a sizeable equestrian establishment on the estate, with stabling and one of the only two polo fields in Cape Town, where the sport of kings is enjoyed.

It’s so easy to forget that three of SA’s oldest wine areas fall within the city of Cape Town – Helderberg, Constantia and Durbanville.

And now there’s another way to explore Helderberg’s wine farms…

The Amazing Helderberg Race
The Amazing Helderberg Race starts off at the Cape Town Tourism visitor information centre in Somerset West where participants have to decipher clues leading them to unexplored wine farms where they have to participate in activities ranging from food pairing, blindfolded wine tasting and more fun and adventurous activities.  At the end of the race winners will receive wine from each wine estate visited on route signed by the owner/winemaker

Estimated racing time:  13h30 until 19h00 (includes sundowners and tasty treats)
Race starting point:  Cape Town Tourism VIC, Southey’s vines, 187 Main road, Somerset West
Racing equipment:  A thirst for winning, comfortable shoes, something warm for the evening and your camera
Info – Tel: 021 840 1400

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 15 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.