Background


In July 1983 the McLean Family Trust bought the old farm Thelema, situated at the top of the Helshoogte Pass about 6Km outside Stellenbosch. The 157 hectare farm lies on the slopes of the Simonsberg at an elevation that ranges from 370 to 640 metres above sea level. Aspects are mainly south-facing and there are spectacular views of the Simonsberg, Drakenstein and Jonkershoek mountains. Thelema is one of the highest and probably the coolest wine farms in the Stellenbosch area.

Although wine had been made on the farm in the early part of the century and table grapes were produced until the late 1960’s, there were no vines on the farm at the time of purchase, only neglected orchards. The quality of the climate and soil have prompted the planting of the classical varieties only. To date 31 hectares have been planted and a further 10 hectares will be planted in the next few years. Of the total, 70 per cent will be white varieties, mainly Chardonnay and the remainder will be reds, mainly Cabernet. In October 1987 building started on the winery, designed to handle the expected annual crop of 400 tonnes, and in February 1988 the first load of Chardonnay was received and processed. This harvest yeilded 55 tonnes of grapes, which have produced the first range of Thelema wines: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc.

Thelema’s winemaker, Gyles Webb, had an unusual beginning in the industry, having qualified as an accountant after attending school in Natal. Although an enthusiastic wine consumer, it was a chance encounter with Puligny - Montrachet in Kimberley in the mid - 1979 that persuaded him to pack away his green pen and bring his wife and infant son to Stellenbosch, where he completed a B.Sc (Agric.) degree in 1979, majoring in Viticulture and Oenology. Not only is Thelema now rated internationally as one of the New Worlds top wineries, Gyles Webb is also seen as one of South Africa’s elite, having been rated John Platter’s Wine Man of the Year in 1993 as well as the Diners Club award winner for 1994.

A recent coup for the estate is the award to Thelema of the prestigious South African Airways trophy for the best white and best red wines for 1996 and their endorsement of Thelema’s status as one of the premier properties in the country.

Thelema is also one of only three South African estates invited to participate in the prestigious New York Wine Experience.

Thelema Mountain Vineyards
+27.21 8851924