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November 16, 2020

Lanzarac -A gem filled with history literally rising from the ashes

Location

Steeped in rich history dating back to 1692, situated in the Jonkershoek Valley on the outskirts of the impeccably stunning historic town of Stellenbosch, surrounded by majestic Stellenbosch mountains, Lanzerac Wine Estate is can be expressed and explained as a historic landmark with intense history and exquisite features. Every aspect of this beautiful stay is in line with old-world charm and rich Cape heritage. This exquisite State boasts with endless rows of lush vineyards lines with stunning white roses and hectares if gardens shaded by giant Oak trees. The perfect setting to every type of traveller, foreign as well as local, here you won’t only feel welcomed with the rich history of what this small town can offer but get a feel for what it might have been like a few years ago with a modern twist and a delicious sense of home.

As you approach the entrance you are greeted with a string of lush green trees creating a pathway that promises a journey that will never be forgotten. Surrounded by vineyards you are bound to have the time of your life. You enter through their landmark posters reminding you of the great history that this place carries, Est. 1692, a sense of luxury and excitement overcomes you, goosebumps is the best way to describe the feeling. An exquisitely large lawn forms in front of you and then in all of its glory, the Manor House, standing proud and tall welcoming you home for the next few days.

Background

Established in 1692, 13 years after Stellenbosch and the third oldest farm in the area, the homestead was transformed into a manor house in 1959 – reminiscent of the traditional French way of fusing a country hotel and wine estate. The first owner being Isaac Schrijver who planted the very first vineyards, named the farm Schoongezicht, meaning a wonderful or beautiful view. In the early 1800’s the first cellar was erected and afterwards was complimented by the iconic and absolutely exquisite Manor House, which in itself exhibits an unusually high level of sophistication for Cape Dutch architecture in the time being with its main gable dating back to 1830.

The Manor house and Werf, which is now considered a Provincial Heritage Site, underwent significant changes by one of the more renowned owners of this impeccable property, the well know and frequently referred to “Mrs English”, Elizabeth Catherina ‘Kitty’ English purchased the property in 1920. This lovely lady, well I assume she must have been absolutely amazing, changed the estate’s name to Lanzerac, and rumour has it that she named it after General Charles Lanrezac (a French General), who commanded the French Fifth Army at the outbreak of World War I. Now I don’t mean to speculate but who doesn’t love a secret love story, I personally suspect that there must have been some personal connection between these two fabulous people, I mean who buys a loved property and names it after someone without some love share, but that’s just my opinion (wink wink).

During her nine years of ownership, Mrs English transformed this estate into one of the most modern wineries in the Cape, laying the foundations for Stellenbosch’s world-renowned wines. After the very sad passing of Mrs English in 1929, the beautiful Lanzerac was purchased by Jacobus Tribelhorn in 1934, the very builder who extended the Manor House for Mrs English all those years ago, he did so to ensure her legacy was continued and he did this well, by producing wines of exceptional quality in the years following.

The owner after Mr Tribelhorn was the oh so handsome and very proud Angus Batts Buchanan who improved the estates’ value and reputation by winning several awards for the wines, sherry and brandy which he produced, establishing Lanzerac as an official leading brand. Brilliance runs in the family as Mr Burchanan’s nephew, ‘Lord’ David Rawdon purchased Lanzerac in 1958 and converted it into an elegant hotel and landmark, he converted the original cellar and its surrounding into bars, lounges, dining areas and hotel rooms.

Modern Days

Lanzerac wine estate has been under current ownership since 2012 with the main focus to obtain the rich heritage, the estate underwent extensive renovations in early 2013 to obtain a level of luxury for the 21st Century traveller.
Tragic struck in the early hours of Sunday morning, 28 May 2013, when a fire broke out severely damaging the main operational areas of the Hotel, and for the first time since the Rawdon brothers converted the estate to a hotel, the Lanzerac had to close its doors to the public for 13 months. Long after this tragic incident, more than 5 years to be exact, the impeccable Lanzerac proudly re-opened its doors to the public, characterised by the same glory, legacy and country chic she has been known for over the decades.

When you enter the area where the tragic accident broke out, the smell of freshly burnt wood fills your senses, the original brickwork stands in all its glory, showcasing each method followed over the course of the years. This structure was built so well that even this immaculate fire couldn’t burn away the firm foundations it stands on. Everything but the shell burnt away, leaving nothing but the hard handwork of centuries filling the air with hints of destruction but one cannot help but feel a tingle down your spine when you enter the room, in the midst of the magnificent history. Now this tragic accident could be seen as a fabulous spoil to the public as the incredibly stunning historic architecture was exposed due to the severe fire and is now a place which everyone can enjoy.
Every piece of art you set your eyes on upon entering this incredible landmark has been handpicked, all pre-loved antique furniture. The beams in the trusses each weigh more than a ton each, the landmark was restored as close to its natural history as possible, ensuring that everything is in close proximity to its original life, and we wonder why it took five years to restore. A magnificent place to visit, stare at and just absorb when you enter their doors.

Rooms

53 exquisitely styled and unique rooms, Back in 1959, legendary hotelier and talented interior decorator, ‘Lord’ David Rawdon transformed the Estate from a wine farm into an elegant hotel and landmark. Today, his impact can still be felt and seen in the hotel’s décor.

‘Rawdon used to say: “I’ve been very blessed, as I had one very useful gift – I can visualise something. I can see where it can go.” This gift seems to have been passed on to Con van der Colff, the Project Co-ordinator and Designer who has been upgrading the Estate over the past few years and was tasked with restoring elements from ember to splendour following a devastating fire in mid-2017. He shares: “Rawdon contributed a large extent to the character of Lanzerac as we experience it today. Because I understood the way he worked, it was easy for me to latch onto that and improve on it.”

This is particularly evident within each of the Hotel’s fifty-three exquisitely styled rooms and suites. Van der Colff began the decoration process of each by selecting a single element and embroidering the look and feel of the room organically around this focal point. No two rooms are alike, yet all reflect the history of the estate with contemporary influences blended in.’

The absolute beauty of our suite cannot be expressed into words, but if I can put it into three words, it would be classy, contemporary, historic. Classy English flair, connecting historic flair with modern living and a Contemporary feel surrounded by exquisite art pieces and antique furniture. My favourite part if I had to choose would be our bathroom, now we all know that the best way to sell a place is either the bathroom or the kitchen. Our bathtub is centred in the middle of the bathroom facing a big window overlooking the most beautiful view of hundreds of vineyards and mountain ranges, absolutely exquisite, something you can only imagine until you’ve filled it up with bubbles and a glass of MCC in hand. Their personal touch of fluffy slippers and white plush gowns was a definitely enjoyable factor especially in the morning whilst enjoying a cup of fresh coffee in your very own garden watching as the blanket of mist steers clear and the sun shines through, a promise of a stunning day approaching. Their novelties are made locally from the same grapes as that of winemaking, who doesn’t want to bathe in merlot body wash or foam up on chardonnay shampoo and a stunning sauvignon blanc body lotion, an incredible range that can be found in their spa as well.

Restaurants

The Taphuis was a legendary watering hole for Lanzerac, but unfortunately was completely lost in the blaze, this extraordinary spot thankfully was restored to ‘reflect the era of the former owner, hotelier David Rawdon, who opened the bar’s doors in the 1960s’. The beautiful Victorian bar cupboard that apparently comes from an old hotel in Malmesbury is quite the site to see upon entering the Taphuis, breakfast, lunch and supper is served here and what more is you are spoiled with a warm toasty fireplace whilst enjoying a few drinks before it’s time to turn in for the night. “This cupboard really is an imposing piece and will, in my opinion, become a talking point amongst visitors as it is simply something you do not see every day”, says van der Colff.

The Manor kitchen is one of the informal dining areas at Lanzerac, mimicking grand hotels in London and Paris, is definitely a favourite for van der Colff. The kitchen used to be an old distillery, van der Colff explains that “Significant effort was made to recreate the interior of the old structure – now filled with gleaming stainless steel equipment – so that it would resemble the original distillery. By giving guests a view into the kitchen from the dining area – with the flames from the gas burners, steam rising from the boiling pots and the whirring of the mixers in the prep areas – they feel part of the creative culinary process.”

Then, of course, we have a very special deli located at the Cellar and where the delicious wine tasting takes place. The deli is equipped with freshly baked goods, freshly squeezed juices, cheese platters and of course all the wine Lanzerac has to offer. Inside the deli, you can enjoy a wide variety of gifts, novelties and everything Lanzerac to take home to regift or enjoy for yourself. You are welcome to purchase their wines here or online, they also have the most delicious homemade chocolate slabs set into exquisite flavours never tasted before. You are spoiled beyond measure with my favourite and really a special personal touch of the very famous Lanzerac scent, available to purchase in scented candles as well as diffusers. Their gift shop is filled with locally produced gifts ranging from coffee pods, sweet treats, tea from the area, jams, etc ensuring you can take this amazing place home wherever that might be.

Spa

We were blessed to experience their spa facilities on our stay here, taking it all in every day we were there, equipped with a gym area, a vitality corner serving wholesome dishes, refreshing raw juices and tropical smoothies, an azure indoor heated swimming pool as well as a bubbling jacuzzi. As you enter you are met with the large sash windows which boast beautiful views overlooking the lush vineyards, with the breathtaking Stellenbosch mountains before you and stunning rose bushes at your feet. Slippers, gowns and clean towels readily available, the water of choice, sparkling or still and a glass of their fabulous MCC on request. Soak up the incredible view with relaxing and lounging at the pool, break out a sweat in their fully functional gym area or enjoy a range of treatment options just a flight of stairs away.

They have seven new therapy rooms, where a range of treatments are available to choose from, from facials to massages and ancient Rasul rituals to their private relaxation lounge, sauna and steam rooms, mist rooms and manicure and pedicure stations. This is the perfect way to unwind and rejuvenate, overlooking the majestic valley, nature in its element, in complete harmony and tranquillity. A place to restore your mind, rest your body and just take it all in, a place of luxury and restoring health experiences.

We were spoiled with a 1-hour Swedish full-body massage, and what a treat it was! Greeted with a relaxation area overlooking the magnificent vineyards, in your very own space, where you can relax and actually just a moment to breathe and take it all in. Their treatment rooms are at the perfect temperature, soft music playing in the background of your choice, and candles burning all around the room setting the scene of tranquillity, peace and complete relaxation. With just enough pressure, the most beautifully scented body oils heated to the perfect temperature your treatment begins, leaving you feeling utterly relaxed, you might just fall asleep. What a blessing these talented therapists were, treating us to the perfect gift to the end of our trip.

They are very proud to have launched a range of swimwear exclusively available to Lanzerac, boasting with beautiful designs and luxury materials. You can also spoil yourself with the exclusive Lanzerac scented candles and body oils which is also available to purchase from their spa facility. Just in case you enjoyed the spa too much, you are able to take it home with you to enjoy another day!

Winery

Lanzerac Wine Estate is home to the world’s first-ever bottled Pinotage and has been bringing in all the awards for their brilliant win making skills for decades on end. Setting their place in society internationally and locally, putting Lanzerac on the map for the superior wine quality. In 1925 Professor Abraham Izak Perold (first Professor of Viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch) successfully crossed two grape varietals, Pinot Noir and Hermitage (Cinsaut), to create South Africa’s first unique and indigenous wine grape variety -Pinotage. We learned this on our incredible Cellar tour, and just in case you missed this fact by gasping and taking in all the winemaking and its glory, you will be walking through history by your utterly proud and extremely knowledgeable sommelier on your wine tasting journey. Teaching you everything about the wines, their history as well as the impeccable art of food and wine pairing.

Lanzerac Wine Estate is under the leadership of Cellar Master, Wynand Lategan and Viticulturist Danie Malherbe, who are both still producing award-winning Pinotage, along with several other excellent wines that form part of Lanzerac’s three tiers – the Premium Range, Heritage Range and Keldermeester Versameling (Cellar Master Collection). Any range is available for tasting as well as the option to have food pairing for anyone who wants to take a stroll in history, our personal experience is something that has changed our view on wine for years to come. Our sommelier challenged us with the wine tasting, but also explained to us the magnificent art of different palates and how everyone will experience a glass of immaculate wine in numerous ways. Personally being a merlot lover for years has been convinced, without a shadow of a doubt, that I no longer enjoy the smooth easy drinking and favoured by much red wine, but I am in fact a lover of Syrah and Pinotage. Now, this could be that their wines are award-winning, but I can never enjoy a glass of Merlot the same way I did before ever again.

Their MCC Blanc de Blancs Brut is one of the all-time favourites I have ever tasted, with its beautiful single strand of bubbles forming in the middle of your glass it indicates the standard of MCC you are about to enjoy, we all know the tinier the bubbles, the better the MCC. The best Chardonnay in the world (yes I said it) must be their Mrs English Heritage bottle, from filling the bottle to enjoying it to its last drop, it has the illusion of elegance and class. Something we noticed is that it doesn’t create water drops on the outside of your glass but in fact obtains the misty chilled glass of perfection, every sip crisp and delicious. Their Le General Red Blend is probably one of the most delicious blends I have ever tasted, personally, I am not a fan of a blend in “general”, pun intended, but this blend just hit the right spots. Perfectly blended to give a variety of flavours, heavy but not too much ensuring that your palate is satisfied but leaves you wanting more.

Their wine is locally and internationally available for purchase on their website.

A: 1 Lanzerac Rd, Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch, 7600
T: +27 (0)21 887 1132
W: Lanzarac

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