The Lanzerac’s rich 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. These slaves were 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.
Through 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 was the purchase of the farm by Mrs. Elizabeth Katherina English in 1914, for the handsome price of £18 000. Mrs. English changed the farm´s name from Schoongezicht to Lanzerac after her good friend, the French General Lanzerac. 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 21 imported varietals. She was one of the pioneer female wine farmers in the South African wine industry, and the present Lanzerac winemaking team honours her memory through the ´Mrs. English´ – a reserve Chardonnay driven blend.
After her death in 1929, the farm was purchased by Johannes Tribbelhhorn, who became a member of the Cape Quality Wine Growers’ Association. By 1936, he had established the Lanzerac Cellar, one of the most modern of its time.
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 Pinotage was released in 1961 and 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, in the now famous tear shaped bottle, also saw the light in 1959. South African businessman, Dr Christo Wiese acquired Lanzerac in 1991 and embarked on extensive replanting of the vineyards, as well as building a modern wine cellar. The existing hotel was renovated to bring it in line with international 5-star standards. The Lanzerac Wine Estate and Hotel is one of the Stellenbosch regions most distinguished examples of Cape Dutch architecture, dating back 300 years.
Dr Wiese sold Lanzerac to a British consortium in July 2012.
Wynand Lategan, who has been overseeing the production of the winemaking since 2005, has remained with Lanzerac after the sale to the new owners and he continues making the award winning wines for which Lanzerac has become famous.
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