I just love an inspirational story about people who go from rags to riches!! First Baronet Sir David Pieter de Villiers Graaff is definitely one to inspire!
He is the reason that we have electricity in Cape Town today. He built the first power station (which still stands today next to the Molteno Dam in Oranjezicht). Have you ever wondered why we have a prominent street named Strand (Beach) Street in Cape Town and it is not next to the beach? Well it used to be! The land below Strand Street is reclaimed! Thank you Sir for making Cape Town bigger! For approximately 1 km! Have you been up Table Mountain by cable car? He was the main investor who made it possible. Politics was also his thing. He was a member of both the Cape and South African parliaments, and a Cabinet Minister in the first cabinet of the Union of South Africa. The Union was formed in 1910 when all the areas as we now know South Africa were joined together with the British. It was at this time that he was made a baronet by King George V in 1911.
He started life as a butcher’s assistant at the age of 11. By 22, he and his brother were directors of their company and realized the immense possibilities of refrigerating meat. They founded The Imperial Cold Storage Company and built it into one of the largest cold storage companies in the world. He was mayor of Cape Town at the age of 32.
De Grendel was bought in 1891 to stable his prized Arab horses.
The Second Baronet was affectionately known as “Div” and succeeded to the baronetcy in 1931. He went into law and practiced as an advocate of the Supreme Court in South Africa. He studying at Oxford.
During World War II he saw service in Northern Africa where South Africa fought on the side of the Allies against Rommel. At Tobruk he was taken prisoner and later decorated in 1947 with a MBE for his inspiring leadership as a Defence Force Officer.
He became a member of Parliament in 1948, the year the United Party with General Jan Smuts was ousted from government by the National Party. He took over the leadership of the United Party in 1956, and for the next 21 years he led the parliamentary opposition to apartheid.
The Third Baronet, who passed away in 2015, was not your usual wine producer! That is why today you can still read inspiring poems on some of the bottles of wine!
Sir David studied agriculture at the University of Stellenbosch, and read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Magdalen College in Oxford. He also studied at the University of Grenoble, where he would get the inspiration to become a winemaker.
Like his father and grandfather, he was also elected as a Member of Parliament – where he served the constituency of Wynberg. He was made Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry by FW De Klerk in 1991, shortly after the commencement of negotiations between the government and the ANC, with the brief to ensure that the South African economy stayed on track during those nervous times.
He withdrew from politics to concentrate on farming after the 1999 elections, and was the visionary who first planted vines and built the wine cellar at De Grendel.
The Forth Baronet is known for his modesty and at first seems an unassuming man. Like his father, he studied agriculture at Stellenbosch before moving to the Hex River Valley to manage the family’s fruit farms where he expanded and initiated two empowerment projects. Empowerment and education are close to his heart and he is the Chairman of the Waitrose Foundation which funds upliftment of farmworkers.
He moved to De Grendel in 2011 with his wife Gaedry, Lady Graaff and their four children to take over the De Grendel wine business, overseeing its expansion from a winery which produced 20 000 cases to one which aims to produce 55 000 in 2017.
He is also the Graaff responsible for opening the acclaimed restaurant at De Grendel in July 2012.
De Villiers has initiated a number of projects including a solar farm, blueberries, indigenous game (including bontebok and eland) and a hand-crafted cider, OBEX.
Now onto the wine! The views of Table Mountain, Cape Town and the Atlantic Ocean from the glass encased verandah of the De Grendel Tasting Lounge is spectacular!
The wines tasted were:
A consistent winner of multiple awards through the years, the 2015 vintage is no exception, scooping Michelangelo Platinum and Veritas Double Gold to name but two.
In fact, Cellar Master Charles Hopkins proudly predicts that the 2015 is the best Shiraz from De Grendel in twelve years.
MCC Brut 2014
Bright straw yellow in colour, with extremely fine streams of bubbles that carry wafts of biscuity richness to the nose, nuanced by fresh citrus aromas with hints of grapefruit peel, before the palate is filled with a delightfully vigorous ‘mousse’ – the explosion of bubbles that gives way to fresh lemon and lime flavours balanced by a lemon-cream richness that ends long and flavourful, with a mineral green apple crispness.
Op die Berg Chardonnay 2015
The Chardonnay is made from grapes grown in a vineyard established on a family farm famous for apples and pears on top of the Witzenberg Mountain in Ceres.
Op die berg Pinot Noir 2014
Carefully handpicked in Ceres in the early hours of the morning, the grapes are vinified by Cellar Master Charles Hopkins in the safety of the cellar at De Grendel.
The Rubaiyat is De Grendel’s flagship wine, first made in 2006 when cellar master Charles Hopkins was asked by Sir David Graaff to make an ‘iconic’ wine for the Estate.
A classically poetic Bordeaux style blend consisting of a quatrain of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, the Rubaiyat was named after Omar Khayyam’s exquisite collection of 1000 Persian love poems from the 10th century, held dear by the late Sir David. Each successive vintage features a different quatrain from the poem on the label, hence the blend of four varietals.
So that's it! Well worth a visit! We enclude wine tasting with our cycle and hiking tours.