The People

Giulio Bertrand was born in Biella, an important wool processing and textile centre in North West Piedmont in Italy.


Four generations of his family had been involved in textiles so it was natural for him to join the family business after university. He owned factories in South Africa and the United States as well as in Piedmont and Tuscany in Italy. Because his yarns and fabrics were sold to fashion designers he was acknowledged as one of the leaders of Italy’s fashion industry.

In recognition of this, on 2 June 1985 Bertrand was inducted as a member of the National Federation of Cavalieri Del Lavoro. This honours Italian entrepreneurs who distinguish themselves in various sectors of the economy, contributing to social development, employment, technology and the growth of prestige of the "Made in Italy” label.

From 1975 Bertrand started coming to South Africa four times a year to oversee his two factories in the Eastern Cape.  In 1979 his love of nature and conservation led him to buy a game farm bordering on the Kruger Park. With these South African connections he decided after his retirement to spend two months each year in the Western Cape to escape the Italian winter. 

In 1992 he bought Morgenster, founded in 1711 and acknowledged as one of the jewels of the Cape.  His first step was to restore the manor house, built in 1786, with the guidance of Cape Town-based architect Revel Fox. Then he turned his attention to the hill in his back yard which reminded him strongly of his native Piedmont. His father had gone into dairy farming on his retirement so perhaps the idea of farming was already there...

With a lifelong philosophy of producing only the best, Bertrand sought advice from experts who suggested that Morgenster’s terroir was perfectly suited to red wine grape varieties and olives.

Putting retirement on hold Bertrand went to France to assess whether Morgenster could produce wines in line with the best from Bordeaux. There he was introduced to Pierre Lurton of Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau d’Yquem. Lurton visited Morgenster and was inspired by the farm’s potential to realise Bertrand’s dream of producing world acclaimed Bordeaux styled blends which age well. Lurton became a consultant to the local team in establishing vineyards of Bordeaux varieties and building a cellar. He is a member of the Morgenster Board of Directors. Each year he and his technical group consult with Morgenster’s winemaking team to create the year’s blends for Morgenster Estate Reserve and Morgenster Lourens River Valley wines.

On 13 March 2013, coincidentally also his birthday, Bertrand was inducted into the South African chapter for the Commanderie de Bordeaux. This was in recognition of his dedication and attention to detail in creating Bordeaux styled wines of the highest order in South Africa and bringing the wine growing regions of France and South Africa closer together through his association with Pierre Lurton.

While it is part of Italian culture to produce fine wines and olives together, the concept was an innovation in South Africa at the time. Bertrand built a long-term partnership with the Olive Oil Research Institute of Italy and from them he imported the world’s most up to date olive tree cultivars for producing superior olive oil, as well as leading production technology.

His guiding philosophy of “Where there is quality there is no compromise” has resulted in Morgenster’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil being awarded top accolades in significant international competitions for over 10 years. These include being judged “Best Blended Olive Oil in the world” L’Extravergine 2006 and the Morgenster mill being awarded “Mill of the year” L’Extravergine 2007. More recently, according to the 2018 Flos Olei Guide to the world’s best extra virgin olive oils, Morgenster is one of only 12 oils in the world to be awarded 98 out of a possible 100 points, something it has achieved for five consecutive years.

Bertrand marketed his first oil in 1998 after thoroughly briefing the local media. Morgenster extra virgin olive oil was a resounding success. As a result he received approaches from people working in other agricultural sectors who wished to acquire olive plants and oil extraction technology. This presented an opportunity to expand his nursery and market a limited range of his Italian varieties.  Some 4.3 million of the 5 million trees planted in SA since 1994 originated from the 2 000 trees Bertrand initially imported from Italy.

Bertrand not only created an exceptional quality extra virgin olive oil on his estate, but by supplying Italian olives varieties to other local farms, providing equipment and farming consultancy services and bringing in international experts to run judging and oil appreciation courses, he has helped South Africa’s young olive oil industry to reach the same level as long-established producer countries.

In August 2012 Giulio Bertrand was honoured by the SA Olive Association with a Life Time Achiever trophy for his contribution to the local olive oil industry.

Giulio Bertrand’s support of local Italian business was recognised by the Italian-South African Chamber of Trade & Industries who declared him the winner of their FNB Business Excellence Award in 2010. 

Always an active sportsman, Bertrand scuba-dived and hunted around Africa. Yachting however was his favourite hobby. In 1961 he won the prestigious Giraglia Race and the Mediterranean Championship on his yacht Arianna under Yacht Club Italiano burgees. In 1996 he sailed in the Cape to Rio race with Bertie Reed.

Giulio Bertrand is survived by two daughters, Alessandra and Federica, and four granddaughters. 


Pierre Lurton, Bordeaux Based Oenologist and Managing Director of Chateaux Cheval Blanc and Chateaux d'Yquem in France is a Director on the Morgenster Board.

Following a meeting between Pierre and Morgenster's owner Giulio Bertrand in 1997, Pierre has been actively involved with Morgenster Estate since its 1999 vintage.

Each year Pierre collaborates with Morgenster's resident Oenologist/Winemaker, Henry Kotzé, and the local viticulture team to create the Estate's renowned Bordeaux style blends.


After obtaining his B.Sc Degree in Oenology Specialization at the University of Stellenbosch, Henry Kotzé started his career at Vergelegen where he gained valuable practical experience. From there he moved to Boschendal Wine Farm where he became assistant winemaker and later to Neil Ellis Wines where he was appointed as winemaker. At this stage, after working with some of the most influential mentors in the industry, he altered his perception of winemaking to one based more on minimalistic interference and innovation in his drive to produce wines of outstanding quality.

In 2004 Henry was appointed as Cellar Master and Marketing Manager of Eikendal Vineyards in Stellenbosch where he held a large portfolio which included excellent quality Bordeaux blends.

In 2009 Henry joined Morgenster to work in conjunction with consultant Pierre Lurton from Chateau Cheval Blanc in producing the Morgenster and Lourens River Valley Bordeaux blends as well as the Italian Collection. Henry's goal with Morgenster is to elevate it to the top echelon reserved for the super elite of the world's wine industry. "We have the best terroir in the country, the best operational cellar, the best consultation team in Chateau Cheval Blanc and Giulio Bertrand, whose only passion is to produce the best quality in the country, if not the world! With this kind of backing, the sky is the limit. It's a pursuit of the best and nothing less," he says.


Gerrie Duvenage joined Morgenster in 1994 to help owner Giulio Bertrand accomplish his dream of "making the best olive oil in South Africa".

After studying Agricultural Research at Pretoria Technicon, Gerrie was responsible for various olive research projects at Infruitec in Stellenbosch for seven years. The olive industry had just started to pick-up and he helped numerous potential producers to grow and produce olives and olive oil successfully.

Although Gerrie gained valuable experience during his olive research, he regards his most important knowledge as coming from several trips to Italy where he spent many hours with Professor Fontanazza, the Director of the most important Olive Research Institute in Italy.

Gerrie has won numerous awards for the Estate with Morgenster's Extra Virgin Olive Oil including multiple="multiple"="multiple="multiple"" L'Orciolo D'Oro Awards and for 2010, 2011 and 2012 the highest points (97 out of a possible 100) for an olive oil in the international Flos Olei Guide, the successor to L'Extravergine. In 2006 Morgenster Extra Virgin Olive Oil won "Best blended olive oil in the world" L'Extravergine, and in 2007 Morgenster won "Mill of the year" L'Extravergine.


Following his degree in Agricultural Administration from the University of Stellenbosch, Bob farmed livestock and crops in the Eastern Cape. Viticulture had captured his interest however, and he joined Rustenberg Estate and then Waterford Estate as viticulturist and farm manager. He also spent a short stint at Lievland. In this time he completed the Cape Wine Academy Diplomas I and II on South African viticulture and winemaking as well as viticulture, winemaking and wine tasting of wine regions of the world. He further built his experience and knowledge through trips to the wine regions of Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy and Spain, making wine as a garagiste, co-founding a viticulture study group and being a member of a viticulture pilot group developing internet based software.

Since joining Morgenster in July 2008 Bob has focused on getting the very best quality from the vineyards. This has entailed rigorous attention to detail in terms of supplementary irrigation due to the shale type soils on Morgenster, detailed canopy management and close liaison with winemaker Henry Kotzé regarding the optimum time to harvest. He concurs with Henry that "we have the best terroir in the country and a great team for what we want to achieve".

Bob is also responsible for the olive groves and has worked with Professor Fontanazza from Italy and Leandro Ravetti from Australia. "It has been a steep learning curve but most rewarding and enjoyable," he says.

Morgenster Estate