Stellenbosch family to offload historic Le Pommier wine estate
UP TO 100 wine farms are on the market in the winelands around Cape Town, and one well-known family is about to shuffle their wine estates like a deck of cards.
The Van der Merwes of Stellenbosch will start off by selling the award-winning wine estate Le Pommier for a cool R35 million. It is a 16-hectare wine farm with a country lodge and restaurant, set in the heart of the wine route. It overlooks the Banhoek Valley, with views of the Simonsberg and Drakenstein mountain ranges.
In the past eight years owner Stephan van der Merwe and his wife Izelle have put much work into developing the property but they now want to sell as Van der Merwe is about to take over the reigns of his father’s adjacent property, Zorgvliet.
In turn, his father Mac van der Merwe will invest money from the sale of Le Pommier and focus on his other farm, nearby Summercourt.
The Van der Merwes bought the three farms in 2002.
A World Luxury Hotel Awards nominee this year, Le Pommier includes a restaurant, two vineyard lodges, established vineyards, a fine wine shop and function venue.
Official marketing body, Wine of South Africa’s Andre Morgenthal said this was a sought-after piece of real estate. He agreed that the timing was right as the eyes of the world are focused on South Africa ahead of the World Cup.
“South Africa is at the forefront of countries that have never really featured before (sic),” Morgenthal said.
Van der Merwe said taking over the 300-year-old Zorgvliet, one of the oldest wine farms in the country, demanded his full attention.
“Letting go of Le Pommier is emotionally difficult, especially for my wife who has put a lot of work into the restaurant. It is part of Stellenbosch history, and the national monument in which it is housed, with its distinctive French name, is a reminder that the part of the farm on which it stands was once a flourishing apple orchard.”
He said a major reason for selling was in order to “buy into a portion and inherit the rest of Zorgvliet”.
“My father wants to concentrate on Summercourt and grow grapes. I have great plans for Zorgvliet. We want to give it more of a family feel – at the moment it’s a bit stiff. We also want to focus on producing two or three varieties of wine.”
Mac van der Merwe said: “We have decided to develop the 68-hectare Summercourt wine estate to its full potential, and my increased involvement in the Zorgvliet Private Residence Club, especially in the international markets, resulted in our making the decision that Stephan would take over the operation and businesses of Zorgvliet wine estate.”
Le Pommier borders Zorgvliet, Thelema, Tokara and newly redeveloped Delaire.
A Re/Max farm sale associate in the winelands, Andrew Foster, said there were about 60 to 100 wine farms on the market in Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, Paarl and Somerset West ranging from R6m to R60m. “But the price can go up to R600m for major wine companies.”
He said the farms on the market were not agriculturally viable but were sold as lifestyle, gentlemen’s and leisure industry estates.
He explained lifestyle estates are bought for their views, snob value or wine labels. Gentleman’s estates are bought by someone who wants a farm as a getaway retreat or a place to retire.
He said 2010 would provide a window of opportunity for international buyers interested in buying into the lifestyle.
Pam Golding Property’s Chris Baker said there were quite a few farms on the market but they were overpriced. The gentlemen’s estates were doing well. He recently sold a 3-hectare property for R22m.
MOVING ON: Stephan van der Merwe’s farm Le Pommier in Stellenbosch is on sale for R35 million.