A touch of the early Cape

In vistas of green, with majestic red hills and steely grey mountains in the background, a touch of Cape Town history has been re-enacted in the Robertson valley.

It was a childhood dream of Danie de Wet, to have a carbon copy of the façade of his family’s ancestral home, the historic Koopmans-De Wet House in Cape Town, built on De Wetshof Estate.
When deciding to rebuild his cellar, the façade he chose was that of the first Customs House in the Mother City. Historians have cited the late 18th Century and early 19th Century French architect Louis Michel Thibault as the designer of both the original buildings.

This bold, early Cape architecture has fascinated Danie for many years and being able to have two exquisite examples in tandem on his estate is a dream come true.
Though they have classic outer character, both are extremely functional buildings, catering for the needs of a modern wine business and cellar. The Koopmans-De Wet replica, built in 1996, is used as an administrative centre, as well as for wine tastings and receptions, while the Customs House replica, built in 2002, houses the cellar.

Both buildings were done by Paarl architects, with Christof Albertyn working on the tasting room and Johann Wessels the cellar.
Danie had hoped that the cellar would have been finished for the harvest, but this was not to be.
So, as the two groups of workers tiptoed around each other while the harvest was completed and the building finished off, Danie found this beneficial and most of the niggling things normally discovered when commissioning a cellar under operational circumstances, could be sorted out immediately.

The tasting venue and administration office is the most notable building visitors see on approaching the estate and it is also arched as they travel under the Jacarandas that line the avenue approaching the cellar complex.
It stands majestically with its fluted pillars, sash windows and wooden shutters – topped off with uncomplicated, yet striking pediment. Besides offering a well-appointed range of wines for tasting, the ground floor also serves as an ideal venue for cultural events such as music, cuisine and wine evenings.

In 2006 it served as the setting for the launch of the Chardonnay Club @ De Wetshof, which was established to promote this extremely versatile variety in general and the wide range created by Danie in particular.
A marquee tent was also set up on the lawn in front of the building during Cape Wine 2006 for a tasting and luncheon to highlight the development and growth of Chardonnay in South Africa since the mid-1970s. Danie was one of a handful of pioneers to acquire the variety at a time when the then authorities bound its and other varietals importation in a net of red tape.
It was a celebration of the diverse styles of wines created in vastly different terroir from around the Cape, highlighting the overall quality attained using Chardonnay.

De Wetshof Estate