New Foreign Hands for Lanzerac

Private Property South Africa
Anna-Marie Smith

As one of 220 Stellenbosch Wine Route farms, Lanzerac is also one of a growing list of local wine farms falling into foreign hands.

In January last year Moneyweb reported foreign ownership in local wine farms to have amounted to 16% of wine farming opportunities in SA. Other foreign owners from varying origins who own local wine farms include Anne Cointreau-Huchon who purchased Stellenbosch’s Morgenhof 10 years ago. Then there is Madame May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, former owner of a grand estate in Bordeaux who acquired Glenelly in 2003. The list also includes Haskell Vineyards owned by Preston Haskell of, and Mulderbosch purchased last year by Charles Banks. Klein Constantia underwent a change of ownership last year, from the Jooste family who owned it since 1980, to joint ownership by two foreign buyers from the UK and US.

Owned by local businessman Christo Wiese since 1991, Lanzerac was sold for an undisclosed price, to an undisclosed foreign owner. Wiese who also owns Lourensford outside Somerset West, described the sale as a downscaling exercise. He said the sale came after building up the facilities from a neglected state into a premier wine producing establishment and hospitality facility. During his ownership he purchased adjoining land, planted new vineyards and built a cellar featuring the latest in wine production technology. The property underwent an extensive remodeling process, including the replanting of vineyards and a new cellar that brought the hotel in line with international five star standards. The farm was sold as a going concern, where operations will continue in its present form, and all members of staff retained.

This historic Jonkershoek Valley location on the outskirts of Stellenbosch has ancient roots going back to 1692 when the land was granted to Governor Simon van der Stel. It has seen a number of sales over many generations of various price tags. One of the earliest prices paid for this farm was recorded in 1922 when the estate was sold to a member of British aristocracy, Elizabeth Katherina English for the hefty price of £18 000.She was also the person responsible for renaming the farm from Schoongezicht to Lanzerac.

The potential offerings of the estate as a commercial entity were realised by hotelier Graham Rawdon who bought the property for R36 000 from Angus Buchanan in 1958. Not exactly known for his personal wealth, Rawdon gained respect in the industry for his innovative ideas in overcoming tough financial times. He gained a reputation for purchasing neglected furniture from local auctions and yard sales which he restored into elegant period items, with some pieces remaining in residence today. Also reflecting hard times about 10 years later, was a quotation from Sarie magazine in 1967, where the price of a ‘full meal’ at the Lanzerac Hotel was quoted at R1.25 a head.

Stellenbosch Farmers Winery purchased the Lanzerac trademark in 1958, taking over the management of the vineyards the same year. When Rawdon sold the estate to a consortium in 1988, it was acquired by Cape businessman Christo Wiese and his family.

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