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Pongracz

PongraczPongracz

Inspired by the Hungarian refugee Desiderius Pongrácz who revolutionized the Cape’s winemaking, the Pongrácz Méthode Cap Classique has become one of South Africa’s most treasured sparkling wines.

Born a count into Hungarian aristocracy, Desiderius choose a career in viticulture. Graduating in 1944 from the Hungarian Academy for Agriculture he decided to join the Hungarian army instead of returning to the family estate. Captured by the advancing Russians, he spent nearly a decade as a prisoner of war in the infamous Siberian labour camps. He later credited these torturous years for ingraining a zest for life that would later become his hallmark.

With the war over and his homeland in the grip of the Soviet Union, Desiderius Pongrácz was freed and returned back to Hungary. During the confusion of the Hungarian revolt he resolved to escape to Africa after obtaining a job as a farm manager in Namibia through his European connections. In 1958 Desiderius relocated to the Stellenbosch Winelands before joining the research institute of Nietvoorby in 1963 under Dr Piet Venter, and studying at the University of Stellenbosch to obtain his Masters of Science Degree in Agriculture.

He was appointed Chief Viticultural Adviser in 1973 at the Distillers Corporation and was instrumental in shaping the South African wine industry through his vision, knowledge and fearless tenacity. He understood the importance of premium grape varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir being introduced to build South Africa’s future wine industry.

Adamant to challenge the status quo that was restricting the quality and number of grape varieties available in South Africa at the time, Pongrácz lobbied for the importation of new plant material and a change of policy in favour of the careful selection of the best varieties from the best vines to propagate better vineyards. Although it was used widely in Europe, the practice of careful selection was considered very controversial in South Africa at the time when the industry was concerned about importing new material for fear of viruses.

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