History

It was late afternoon when we drove up a gravel road towards the run-down manor house. It was hard to imagine that it was once a pioneer house, one of the oldest dwellings in the valley. The extensions and architectural changes carried out over the centuries did not give us the impression that this could be the house of our dreams.

A brief summary of the recent history of DMN

We first set foot on this farm in November 2002, while we were house hunting during a holiday in Wellington. After a long day of viewing properties the agent had almost giving up on us, when he showed us one final property. As we made our way over the dirt tracks of Dal Josaphat, we had little enthusiasm to see or consider buying an entire farm.
It was late afternoon when we drove up a gravel road towards the run-down manor house. It was hard to imagine that it was once a pioneer house, one of the oldest dwellings in the valley.
The extensions and architectural changes carried out over the centuries did not give us the impression that this could be the house of our dreams.

Further up from the manor house were the old pig stables......followed by the little cottage where the foreman was living in.

Towards the middle of the property were three labourer cottages, without electricity and running water. 34 people were squatting in these houses.

The farming potential at that point did not look much better.There were some Cabinet Sauvignon vines, table grapes and guava trees. The small amount of wine grapes produced were being sold off in a co-operative venture. The owner was hospitalised for quite some time before he passed away and the foreman was battling to keep up with the workload.
Against all odds we fell in love with this place. Our friend agreed to look after the farm while we were still living and working in the UK, so we made a formal offer. The transfer went through in February 2003

We bought ourselves a wine farm......what have we done?!

The first steps were to clean up the property and evict the squatters who did not work on the farm with the aid of a labour consultant. With only workers living on the farm we could begin planning to convert the labour cottages into guest houses.

Over the years we built a gate , including a new gate house for the foreman and his family. Towards the top of the land, we constructed another cottage by the dam, which is now inhabited by the wine maker. The labour cottages were converted into guest houses, and a storage facility was created for the farming equipment, including a cold room for bottled wine.

In 2006 we decided to renovate the manor house and after a few hickups with Cape Heritage we began renovation in March 2007.

In late 2007 it was finally time to say goodbye to my 25-year banking career at Hypo Vereinsbank (now known as UniCredit following various mergers and restructurings). During my banking years we were constantly on the move and lived in New York, Hong Kong, Munich and twice in London. It was time to settle down. Dorothee left the UK for the farm in October, and I joined her just before the end of the year.

It was important for us to be there as our house took shape; all the finishing touches had to be constantly monitored. We also had started to finalise the renovation of the old cellar. Work began in early 2008 and was finished before the year was out.

It was a long journey to get to the farm we envisioned when we first set eyes on it in November 2002. All the money, time and effort we had put in had finally paid off.

January 2010 Kerstin and Jens-Peter Stein joined as shareholders. They currently reside in the United Kingdom

Dorothee & Joerg Kirchner


In the following pages you can read the not so recent history. Click here to read "history.pdf"

Druk My Niet
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