One of the oldest farms in South Africa, Boschendal was founded in 1685 in the heart of Franschhoek. Boschendal was first granted to the French Huguenot Jean le Long in 1685 by Simon van der Stel, the first governor of the Cape Colony. It was subsequently bought by Abraham de Villiers in 1715 and remained in that family for 164 years.
The De Villiers family developed Boschendal into a flourishing wine farm and built the manor house and outbuildings. In the 1880s, the Cape Wine industry was nearly destroyed by the vine aphid Phylloxera. In 1897 custodianship of Boschendal passed into the hands of Cecil John Rhodes, the Cape Colony’s Prime Minister, who saw an opportunity to develop fruit farming in the Cape. Rhodes Fruit Farms was established and he began exporting fruit to Britain on a massive scale.
From 1969 – 2003 Anglo American Corporation bought Rhodes Fruit Farms and changed the name to Anglo-American Farms (Amfarms). The farm was officially opened to the public in 1976 and was declared a National Monument.
Along with Groot Constantia, it was one of the first wine estates to welcome wine tourism. Between the years of 2005 and 2012, the farm moved from multiple hands, with plans for it to become a retirement and housing center, the focus was moved away from wine, farming and hospitality as the corporate ownership was more intent on extracting profits.
This unfortunate stream of events generated a less than stellar reputation for the farm. If you ask any local, many would say Boschendal is a bus tour trap featuring generic tastings and a less than premium experience overall.
This all changed when the farm was purchased by a consortium led by Sam and Rob Lundie. This visionary couple had a goal in mind to restore the farm back to its historical glory. Their first means of accomplishing this goal was to increase the number of activities on the farm, from viticulture to global agriculture.
To date, 450,000 new fruit trees will have been planted. There is already a herd of over 700 Black Angus cattle, as well as chickens, pigs, sheep, goats and fish. Permanent employment on the farm has grown from 70 people to over 450, and will reach almost 700 by the end of 2017. The picking season is being increased from 4-5 months to 9-10 months – a game changer in the seasonality of agricultural employment. [source: CapeInfo]
After hearing more about the incredible changes at Boschendal, we wanted to experience it first hand. We were invited by the world class hospitality staff to discover their immersive new premium, private tastings and to walk through the extensive gardens on their new historical tour.
We were met at the historical manor house by our guide, François De Villiers, whose ancestors actually owned the farm from 1715 to 1879. As we walked through the heritage buildings and the working gardens he shared incredible family stories that made us feel like we were living inside Boschendal’s storied past.
The Manor House tastings
Chef Christiaan Campbell and the team from the Boschendal Werf Restaurant have worked closely with Cellar Master JC Bekker to create small tasting dishes that serve as exquisite companions for the wines.
Angus Beef & Shiraz Pairing
Boschendal is famous for its Angus beef and this tasty affair pairs four beef canapés with four of the estate’s well-known Shiraz / Shiraz-based blends, and takes place in the Exclusive Lounge.
Commencing on the Manor House ‘stoep’ overlooking the Werf, the historic tasting begins with Jean Le Long bubbles, before guests venture inside to the ‘chaise lounge.’ Here, they’ll be presented with four historically significant wines and plenty of anecdotes and artifacts illuminating what life was like back in the early 1800s.
An excellent tasting for any true wine connoisseur, but also for beginners. You’ll try a variety of vintages and varietals from the appropriate Riedel glassware. You’ll be amazed to discover how each of the different premium wines is highlights the flavours, aromas and mouthfeel.
MCC & Canapé pairing
For bubbly lovers, Boschendal makes an extensive array of MCCs that are perfectly paired with a variety of canapés. The premium tasting is conducted in the historical parlour, which makes it even more fun to think of it as the same place that social events happened back in the 1800’s!