Vergelegen (meaning "situated far away") dates back to 1700 when Willem Adriaan followed in the footsteps of his father, Simon van der Stel, to became governor of the Cape. He claimed a 30,000-hectare piece of land for himself, situated on the Hottentots Holland mountain slopes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Today, this world-class estate is renowned for its exquisite wines, 300-year history, ancient camphor trees, beautiful gardens and lovely cuisine.
The climate at Vergelegen is moderate due to its position a mere six kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean at False Bay. It thus lends itself perfectly to growing vines with the vineyard sites ranging between 140m and 310m above sea level.
The first vines were planted by Willem Adriaan, which included varieties such as 'steendruif' (Chenin Blanc), ‘blue muscadel’, frontignan and white muscadel. He also planted fruit orchards, orange groves, camphor and oak trees, and built the beautiful Cape Dutch homestead, reservoirs, irrigation canals, and eighteen cattle stations. After being forced to return home to the Netherlands, Vergelegen was bought and sold numerous times until in 1917 it was acquired by Sir Lionel Phillips (who made his millions on Kimberley’s diamond fields and the Witwatersrand gold mines). He bought the farm for his wife Lady Florence Phillips, and together they set to work restoring and upgrading the estate.
After their deaths in 1941, Vergelegen and its contents were sold at auction to the Barlow family. Cynthia Barlow purchased many of Lady Phillip’s paintings and fine furniture pieces, adding her own pieces to the collection. The Barlow’s started one of the best and largest Jersey cattle herds in South Africa.
Vergelegen’s soils lay fallow until 1987, when Anglo American purchased the property, restoring the viticulture and the historic core so that visitors around the world may experience this historic winery. They also began an extensive program of clearing away alien vegetation and re-establishing the vineyards. In 1992, a multi-leveled and sunken hilltop winery was built and opened by Frenchman Baron Eric de Rothschild, owner of the Château Lafite in Bordeaux.
Today Vergelegen is renowned throughout the world as one of the leading conservers of the Cape heritage, as well having its wines rated amongst the world’s top 100.
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