History of the De Wet Family

The first De Wet, Jacobus de Wet, arrived in South Africa in 1693...

The first De Wet, Jacobus de Wet, arrived in South Africa in 1693. He was the appointed Cellarmaster of The Dutch East India Company in 1697.

In 1859 a young man with energy and vision came to the Robertson valley and bought a large tract of land. He pioneered the channelling of the river to bring water to his fields. He planted crops and pastures and established vineyards and orchards. In his old age he divided his land among his three sons. Arabella is part of the land inherited by the youngest son. Today there are six estates in the Robertson district owned by different branches of the De Wet family: - De Wetshof, Zandvliet, Le Grand Chasseur, Arabella, Excelsior and Clairvaux.

In the South Western Cape there is a great valley encircled by tall, gaunt mountains. A wide river (Breede River) meanders through the valley floor, which, during the millennia, created a fertile flood plain for itself. It is an arid land, for the mountains which shelter the valley also shields it from rain bearing clouds. The lack of rain matters not, for the early settlers soon learned to channel the river to irrigate the fertile plain. Here they planted their vineyards, orchards and pastures whose lush herbage makes for a stark contrast to the thorny, stunted vegetation of the veld. The De Wet family have been intimately involved with the development of the Breede River valley. Stephen’s Great Grandfather was one of the pioneers of the construction of the irrigation network without which the valley would still be a baron desert.

Wine and horses have always played a prominent role, as the red, calcarious soils favour both. Before the advent of the motorcar, an ancestor bred the best hackney carriage horses. Later these gave way to thoroughbred racehorses and one of the most distinguished studs in South Africa was established. The stud was sold to concentrate on Viticulture, but Stephen and Jamie remain keen horsemen and now breed Arabian horses for competitive endurance racing. Jamie has achieved his Springbok colours in this discipline.

Arabella Wines
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