Location and Brief History

In 1974 Billy Hofmeyr, a land-surveyor and his wife, Ursula bought the Monte Video farm - a 16,5ha estate sited on a ridge of land at Klapmuts, wedged between the motorway and the old highway to the north. With their savings they bought the farm and, having it renamed it Welgemeend after the last of Jan van Riebeecks working vineyards in Cape Town, they then set about re-establishing the dilapidated estate.

Billy Hofmeyr came late to wine - aside from his work he had originally written classical music reviews for an Afrikaans newspaper, broadcast classical music on radio, been a member of Cape Towns ballet and opera committees, and a founder member of the friends of S.A. National Gallery. He only achieved recognition in the world of wine when, in 1973, he surpassed many distinguished names to win a national wine tasting competition. Following on from his success, he had a column - In Vino Veritas - in the Wynboer, and went on to found the Cape Independent Winemakers Guild in 1982.

Viticulture and Viniculture

In 1974 his passion for great claret led him to plant "Bordeaux" grape varieties, which at that time were not available. Pulling up the lesser Hanepoot, Cinsaut and Steen, he was the first South African winemaker to replant with Cabernet Sauvignon, cuttings of Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot and some Pinotage, most of which was pulled up in 1984. Despite some very poor advice in the early years - recommended use of deep ploughing, virus-infected clones, the wrong root stock, incompatability of vines and soil type - the Hofmeyrs achieved acclaim for their wines from their very first vintages.

Originally only two blends were created - the Welgemeend Estate wine, a typical Bordeaux blend, and Amadé, a spicy, southern Rhone style blend of Grenahce, Shiraz and Pinotage. In 1985, Douelle (70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Malbec) was created for the now famous CIWG auction.

Since the 1980s some major changes have taken place at Welgemeend - in 1987 Billy gave up his profession to concentrate on the farm. At this time his daughter Louise, a fine arts graduate, returned home to help with the harvest and it became apparent all was not was well with her father. Following a protracted illness he was eventually hospitalised in 1991 with Altzheimers Disease, whereupon Louise took over the role of winemaker. She has demonstrated since her first vintage in 1992 that she, with her mother Ursula at her side, is more than equal to the challenge - with help from her fellow winemakers, she is adding something of her own mark to the wines, without detracting from their innate quality. Coupled with this she has had to shoulder the burden of undergoing a programme of complete replanting, to replace the now commercially non-viable virus-ridden clones. There are changes still to come at Welgemeend, but one can only feel a sense of confidence that these will be positive ones.

Welgemeend Estate