The history of winemaking at Hazendal is quite a winding tale. One that’s closely related to the history of winemaking in South Africa. And what a fascinating story it is! See, one of the main reasons why wine grapes are cultivated in South Africa is because people used to believe that wine could prevent scurvy.
No kidding! At the time when the Dutch East India Company established a supply station along the natural harbour at the southern point of Africa, scurvy was a huge problem.
The journeys along the Spice Route from Europe to India were long and arduous, and lots of sailors were getting sick due to a lack of nutrients en route.
This is why setting up supply stations along these routes was so important. It allowed the ships to dock, and take on fresh water, produce and other necessities before they continued along their way. So, in a sense, you could say that Cape Town was only ever intended to be a very specialised tuck shop for the VOC.
But, of course, that’s not quite the way it turned out…
Jan van Riebeeck was given the task to manage the station at the Cape and was later instructed to plant vines to make wine, so the VOC’s sailors could drink it on their voyages to stay healthy.
Today we know that this does not make a whole lot of sense. In fact, even if you were to actually eat the grapes themselves, you wouldn’t get a lot of vitamin C out of the deal and that’s the main thing you need to avoid scurvy. However, to be fair, at the time people also believed that gin cured gout and indigestion. What a time to be (and stay!) alive.
But we digress – back to the history of winemaking at Hazendal. Although Hazendal itself already passed into private ownership in 1704, the first grapes were only planted in the 1800s by the Bosman family.
The farm was bought by Izaak Bosman in 1831 and stayed in his family for the next five generations. They were the forward-thinking folks who planted vines and established a wine cellar on the estate. Today you can still find Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, on the front door of the Hazendal Homestead, where the Bosmans immortalised him more than 150 years ago.
The grapes the Bosmans planted at Hazendal at that time would have been vines of European descent. See, South Africa has no endemic species of wild grape.
While the climate and soils of the Western Cape are remarkably suited to the cultivation of vines, the only plants of this kind that ever grew here of its own volition was a type of very lush creeper that grew rampantly along the borders of watercourses. However, these belong to the genus Cissus and do not bear any berries.
This is why vines were brought in from Europe at the time of Jan van Riebeeck and we have continued to do so ever since. Fun fact – the first kind of wine that was ever produced in the Cape was a dessert wine made from French Muscadel grapes. It saw the light of day in 1659.
Today, there are several exciting varietals cultivated at Hazendal Wine Estate. This includes Chardonnay, Chenin blanc, Sémillon, Sauvignon blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Carménère, and Pinotage. These exceptional cultivars are cared for and harvested under the watchful eye of Hazendal’s talented winemaker and viticulturist, Clarise Sciocatti-Langeveldt.
Certain varietals are also bought in from other growers nearby to bolster the harvest at Hazendal and build out the possibilities of the vintages the innovative wine-making team can bring to market.
Clarise joined the Hazendal team in 2016 and immediately set about replanting the estate’s existing vineyards. She brought passionate expertise to the process of crafting boutique wines. “I don’t want to over-work the grapes in the cellar. I’d rather allow the fruit and terroir to shine through,” she explains.
Wine tastings are hosted at Hazendal from Tuesday to Sunday between 11:00 till 17:00 (last tasting at 16:30). A tasting takes approximately 1 hour. Reservations are not required; tastings are offered on a first-come, first-seated basis.
There are three different pricing tiers:
- A selection of any 3 wines = R65
- 3 Christoffel Hazenwinkel and 3 Estate wines = R95
- A selection of any 6 wines = R130
“I would encourage guests to try the last option. This way they can experience six different wines across the whole style range that Hazendal has to offer – easy drinking, barrel matured, as well as some festive Cap Classique,” says Clarise.
There you have it – a short and sweet introduction to the history of winemaking at Hazendal Wine Estate.
Come visit us soon for a tasting at our Wine Lounge or a full-on Sensory Experience to enjoy our beautiful wines IRL. Of course, you can also buy Hazendal wine online if you prefer…