The Stellenbosch Wine Routes are celebrating a golden milestone this year; its 50th anniversary. The famed wine routes boast over 200 wine estates and have played a significant role in developing South Africa’s wine tourism industry, no small feat as the sector contributes a massive R7.2bn to the country’s GDP per year.
The Stellenbosch Wine Routes have a storied history, being founded by Frans Malan (Simonsig), Niel Joubert (Spier) and Spatz Sperling (Delheim) in the 1970s in a bid to change the existing industry, dominated by KWV at the time, which prevented vineyard owners from selling wine under their own labels. As such, the threesome came together to form the Stellenbosch Wine Routes, which officially launched in 1971.
Today, half a century later, Stellenbosch is home to over 120 wine producers divided into five sub-routes, namely Bottelary Hills, Greater Simonsberg, Helderberg, Stellenbosch Valley and Stellenbosch Berg. Lanzerac, nestled in the Jonkershoek Valley between the Stellenbosch mountains, is one of the oldest heritage farms in the Western Cape, dating back to 1692 and home to the world’s first bottled Pinotage.
A Pinotage is born
Dating back to the early 1690s, Lanzerac is a historic landmark and Stellenbosch icon. Says General Manager Emile Langenhoven, “The grande dame, as we like to call Lanzerac, is synonymous with old-world charm and rich Cape heritage. Our position as gatekeepers to the idyllic Jonkershoek Valley on the outskirts of the historical town of Stellenbosch makes us ideally positioned to perfect the art of winemaking, while the endless views of dramatic mountain ranges and rows of lush vineyards certainly add to the charm of life at Lanzerac.”
In 1925, Professor Abraham Izak Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch, successfully crossed two grape varietals, Pinot Noir and Hermitage, to create South Africa’s first unique and indigenous wine grape variety – Pinotage. Several years later, Lanzerac became the first winery in the world to use the term ‘Pinotage’ on their label when they marketed the 1959 vintage under the name ‘Lanzerac’. This visionary release marked the birth of Pinotage as a unique variety from South Africa.
Continues Langenhoven, “To this day, Lanzerac, under the leadership of Cellar Master, Wynand Lategan and Farm Manager Phillip Le Roux, is still producing award-winning Pinotage, along with a wide variety of other excellent quality wines that form part of Lanzerac’s three tiers – The Premium Range, Heritage Range and Keldermeester Versameling (Cellar Master Collection).
We pride ourselves on being one of the most distinguished wine producers in South Africa, and our commitment to superior quality wines both internationally and locally remains unwavering.”
Wine tourism hub
Once the Wine Routes were established in 1971, Stellenbosch also became the first wine region in South Africa to offer tourists the chance to experience the products of the Winelands with unique cellar-door experiences, which continues to this day. What’s more, the region’s propensity for innovation and producing high-quality wines has not only made it a wine tourism hub, but an interest for investors around the world, all staking their claim in the Stellenbosch Winelands.
Concludes Langenhoven, “As part of the Cape Winelands, Stellenbosch Wine Routes hold the distinction of being one of the most popular tourist attractions in South Africa. This, along with the town of Stellenbosch being a historical, cultural, natural, recreational and educational hub, has resulted in the region being regarded as one of South Africa’s premier tourist and wine destinations. We’re excited to celebrate another 50 years of innovative, history-making wine production.”
To celebrate the Wine Route’s 50 illustrious years, Lanzerac is serving up the chance to win a luxury getaway to the estate worth R60 000. To enjoy this glorious experience with Lanzerac, purchase any wine from their premium range at their Tasting Room, online or at selected retailers. Scan the QR code applied to the bottle to enter. The competition ends 31 August 2021 and T&Cs apply.
Steeped in history dating back to 1692, Lanzerac is a Cape Winelands landmark and Stellenbosch icon. Combining old-world charm and hospitality with modern amenities and services, Lanzerac is ideally positioned as gatekeepers to the idyllic Jonkershoek Valley on the outskirts of the historic town of Stellenbosch. The establishment caters to every visitor and holiday-maker and encompasses a hotel, a winery, several restaurants and dining venues and an on-site spa.
From: Thembela Mbatha