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In early 1997, for no logical reason, I found myself looking at farms in the Cape Winelands, South Africa. The idea that I probably wanted to buy one had captured me. At the time, I was Executive Vice President of a large Swedish multinational corporation. My work had taken me to many places around the world. Visits to South Africa had  always been associated with special emotions and contradicting impressions. The land of magificent beauty and diversity, and friendly people. And yet, with a modern history full of cracks, tension, violence, entrepreneurship, trauma and, of late, hope. All that had triggered my senses in a special way.

I looked at 10 farms during 2 days. There were two finalists; a wine farm near Stellenbosch and a table grape farm in Paarl. And there was an outsider, Kruishof, north of Wellington. The table grape farm seemed to make most sense. I bought it and subsequently added the table grape farm next door. All was sold 19 years  later in June 2016. I enjoyed the journey, learnt a lot and got many friends for life. In the process the family, my wife Cecilia and 3 young daughters, moved from Europe to Cape Town in 2007 upon my retirement from active corporate duty.

Upon settling down locally we felt that the 50 ha table grape farm felt a bit cramped. We started to realize that we were longing for a larger nice piece of nature. My visit to Kruishof in 1997 had made a lasting impression, and in early 2008 we picked up rumours that the farm was for sale. Cecilia and I decided to find out, and set off to see the owners on a Sunday 'blind date'. We were welcomed by a fiercely aggressive Rotweiler dog...and then by a friendly owner: 'Yes, the farm is for sale'. After a few complex twists the farm was ours in September 2008. It was a beautiful piece of nature, 355 ha of it, and with a fabulous single-level large manor house, Cape Dutch style. There was a beautiful garden and a view that gives piece of mind. The farm needed a lot of attention and upgrade ... but there was a lot of farming and emotional potential.



Houses and infrastructure were attended to and upgraded where needed. But what about farming? There was about 100 ha of arable land. The other 255 ha consisted of fynbos, mountain slopes, dams and creeks. The path to the top of Groenberg involves a walk taking you to a demanding 700 m higher level.

The first recorded farm ownership dates back to 1709, when it was handed to a German family, Kreutzmann. The central structure of the present manor house was built in 1812. It was last extended to its present size i 1941. Wine grapes have been the main farm product for more than 100 years, at one point harvested from over 70 ha of planted vines. Kruishof was a major quota holder in the Bovlei wine Cooperative in Wellington, established  more than 100 years ago. So, the wine traditions were very profound. When we took over Kruishof, 25 ha of vineyards remained. Nothing had been harvested for the last 2 years. To kick-start this and deliver grapes to Bovlei for almost no pay was not a compelling option. We did deliver over 100 tons of mostly Chenin and Cinsault the following year. But what next? After some deliberations we took out all old vines, grew some fresh produce, like cabbage, melons and bringals the first year. After a lot of soil analysis and preparations we started to develop a new pomegranate orchard in 2010....and a small development, 1.02 ha of Shiraz. It turned out that the conditions were very favourable for establishing a small vineyard at a block which also offered a visibly attractive location. The vines were planted in 2010, on root stock (Richter) to specifically match the terroir. There was no plan at the time to produce wine, but merely to sell grapes to a winery.




The location, with a North-facing sun-drenched slope and a soil mix of decomposed Malmesbury shale, some crushed granite and thin layers of loamy sand, was judged by the consulted experts to be ideal for Shiraz. The new tiny vineyard was struggling to take off. Growth was quite slow in the beginning, but in the second year it developed very well. Leading up to the first harvest in early 2013 the idea of producing wine had suddenly emerged forcefully with me. A friend of ours, who owns a very large wine business, said to me: 'Make wine from your grapes. It is much more fun'. Then there was this other thing; My wife was turning 50 in February of 2014. She was looking forward to have a nice big party at Kruishof, with friends from near and far away. This triggered my Secret Project; to produce wine from the first bin Shiraz harvest and unveil and present it to Cecilia as a surprise at her birthday party. What a nice project! I found a young but experienced wine maker with good credentials, Ossie Sauermann, who was making wine on a contract basis at a very modern and well run winery in Franschhoek. The winery's own vineyard was operated based on biodynamic principles, and they had surplus capacity in the winery. French oak barrels were sourced, one third new, for the first harvest which turned out to be 4.5 tonnes. One 225 litre barrel was set aside for the 'party wine', which was bottled before the rest after 10 months in the barrel. A special label was produced for the occasion.


It was a at big success. Cecilia was moved to tears when presented with the secret wine on her birthday. The quality of the wine was remarkably good, which was a very positive surprise. It was a firm indication that the small Shiraz block had the potential as a solid foundation to produce wines of distinction.

Encouraged by the early success of the 2013 vintage, even more care and attention has been given to subsequent harvests and vinification. The farming practices are fully organic (uncertified) as from the 2014 vintage. The wine making is carried out with highest quality yeast tuned specifically for Shiraz,, some addition of sulphur and egg yolk for fining. The wine is kept in barrels for 18-21 months dependingon vintage. Some new French oak barrels are added each year. The Kruishof wines are truly hand crafted all the way, with great care and attention. The 2019 vintage has just been released. 2020 is resting in the bottles.  



I have a sweet spot for high-quality Rhone wines. They are full of flavours and have a striking complexity and taste. The Côte Rôtie wines, with a slight addition of Viogner to the Syrah base, is a particularly appealing example. A Kruishof variant in that style may become a surprise addition.

 A bientôt!

Yours truly,


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