In 1692, a considerable tract of land in the Jonkershoek valley of Stellenbosch was granted by Governor Simon van der Stel, partly to Isaac Schrijver, who before taking out free papers had been a copper prospector and an ensign and partly to three freed slaves – Manuel and Anthony of Angola and Louis of Bengal. Schrijver, who named the farm Schoongezicht and planted vineyards. It is presumed that the land passed to his widow Anna Hoeks and then to a granddaughter, Maria van Coninshoven. The land granted to the three slaves is thought to have been incorporated into Schoongezicht. Van Coningshoven married Jacob Hasselaar and their daughter Anna Hasselaar, who married Chrstoffel Groenewald, then inherited the property. In 1790, Schoongezicht was transferred from her estate to Coenraad Johannes Albertyn, and from him to Carolus Lynis in 1808.Records show that the farm was immediately transferred from Lynis to Coenraad Johannes Fick, who in 1811, erected a number of outbuildings with gables ranging in style from holbol to simple neo-classical. The cellar he built has been dated to 1815 and the U-shape homestead, still standing with its neo-classical main gable, to 1830. The homestead exhibits a unusually high level of sophistication for Cape Dutch architecture of the period.
After Fick’s death in 1841, the farm was bought by Pieter Gerhardt van der Bijl, whose son inherited it in 1849. The farm remained within the family until 1886, when a J. H. Wicht purchased it.
In 1914, Schoongezicht was bought by Elizabeth Katherina English for 18 000 pounds. She changed the name of the farm from Schoongezicht to Lanzerac. She made extensive alterations to the outbuildings, as well as the house, which she elongated. Despite these changes, the house remains well proportioned, set in a spacious courtyard formed by the outbuildings, with the tall slave bell set well out in front of the house. The gable is a pilaster gable, with the tall outer pilasters surrounded by vases. The vases of the inner pilasters have disappeared.
Mrs English bottled the first Lanzerac wine from grapes grown on her land, where at one stage there were reputed to have been 21 varieties growing, all of them imported.
She died in 1929 and Johannes Tribblehorn, who became a member of the Cape Quality winegrowers Association and by 1936 had established what was then one of the most modern wine cellars in the Cape, bought the farm.
Angus Buchanan bought the farm in 1941 and bottled his first wines in 1947, earning over the next decade 20 first prizes, as well as a number of trophies at the annual Paarl Wine Exhibition. His red wines won the Champion Red Wine floating trophy for eight successive years. He sold the farm in 1958 to David and Graham Rawdon, who converted the homestead and outbuildings to a luxury hotel, furnished with English and Cape antiques. These buildings were declared national monuments.
Frequented by the rich and famous, one of its more illustrious guests was Senator Bobby Kennedy. It is amusing to note that in a 1967 issue of Sarie magazine, consumers were advised that they could eat a full meal at the hotel for R1.25 a head.
Stellenbosch Farmers Winery 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 South Africa’s first commercially produced Pinotage, as well as Lanzerac Rosé, the longest-standing wine in the Lanzerac range. This wine was made by “Gravy” Rossouw, with some of the grapes supplied by Lanzerac until the late 1970’s when the farm stopped cultivating vineyards.
The Rawdons sold the Lanzerac to a consortium in 1988 and in 1991 Cape businessman Christo Wiese and his family acquired it. They extensively remodeled the hotel to bring it in line with international five star standards, replanted the vineyards and established a cellar.
In July 2012, the Lanzerac was acquired by a British Consortium and is operating under this management.