Stel­len­bosch fam­ily to off­load his­toric Le Pom­mier wine es­tate

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE - ME­LANIE PETERS

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.

PIC­TURE: LEON LESTRADE

MOV­ING ON: Stephan van der Merwe’s farm Le Pom­mier in Stel­len­bosch is on sale for R35 mil­lion.

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