Lanzerac’s story, which is rich in heritage, dates back to 1692 when Governor Simon van der Stel granted a considerable tract of land in the Jonkershoek Valley to Isaac Schrijver and three freed slaves, Manuel and Anthony of Angola and Louis of Bengal. The farm received the first of its names, being Schoongezicht, where Schrijver set about planting vineyards.
Throughout the years the farm changed hands, not only changing owners, but being handed down from family member to family member. The most historical change of ownership being the purchase of the farm by Mrs. Elizabeth Katherina English in 1914. Mrs. English changed the name from Schoongezicht to Lanzerac. Not your average lady of the early 1900’s, she embarked on extensive renovations which included alterations to the outbuildings as well as to the homestead, allowing the house to remain well proportioned within the confines of the spacious courtyard. It is also believed that Mrs. English bottled the first Lanzerac wine from grapes grown on her land, where at one stage there were believed to have been 21 varietals growing, all of them imported. Being as progressive as she was, it is safe to say that Mrs. English was one of the pioneer women wine farmers, empowering women of her time as well as through the ages to embark on a career traditionally reserved for men. Furthermore, the present Lanzerac winemaking team honours her memory through the Mrs. English Reserve range wine.
After her death in 1929, the farm was purchased by Johannes Tribbelhhorn who became a member of the Cape Quality Wine Growers’ Association, and by 1936 has established what was then one of the most modern wine cellars in the Cape. The former Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery (SFW) purchased the Lanzerac trademark in 1958, taking over the management of the vineyards the same year. The company used the grapes as well as those from other sources to make the world’s first commercially produced Pinotage - a 1959 vintage. This visionary release in 1961 marked the birth of Pinotage as a unique variety from South Africa. This indigenous varietal was developed in Stellenbosch in 1925 by Professor Abraham Perold by crossing Pinor Noir with Cinsault/Hermitage. Under SFW, the iconic Lanzerac Rosé, the longest-standing wine in the Lanzerac range, also saw the light in 1959.
The most notable owner to date has been that of one of South Africa’s most influential and successful businessman, Dr. Christo Wiese who acquired Lanzerac in 1991, as an investment for him and his family. He set about extensively remodeling the hotel to bring it in line with international 5-star standards, as well as replanting the vineyards and establishing a modern cellar. Being the businessman that he is his plans included discussions with SFW whereby both parties agreed that wines would once again be produced at Lanzerac. As a joint force they were able to take the brand to great heights.
Dr. Wiese sold Lanzerac to a British consortium in 2012, which meant a new team. Thankfully this new team included the winemaker, Wynand Lategan, who has been overseeing the production of the winemaking since 2005, and who was asked to stay on after the sale to the new owners. Their trust in him has allowed him to continue making wines for which Lanzerac has famous for. Wynand’s winemaking philosophy is quite simple. When he makes a wine he is led by balance - balance in fruit, tannins, colour, alcohol, mouth-feel and in the use of wood - these are all key elements in the wine sculpting process. Wines should add joy and friendship to life, create memories of an occasion, place or the people you share it with.
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