Background


L'Avenir was founded by Marc Wiehe in 1992. A native of Mauritius, Wiehe left a career as a sugar trader in London and purchased the working property which at the time was growing fruit for the long established Nederburg estate in Paarl. With François Naudé as Winemaker, L'Avenir swiftly rose to icon status, domestically and abroad. The 1997 L'Avenir Chenin Blanc was ranked best in the country at that year's Chenin Blanc Challenge. By 2004, no Pinotage had been named as frequently as L'Avenir among the top ten in the annual Top Ten Pinotage Competition, achieving inclusion with seven out of eight vintages.

In September of 2005, Chablisien Michel Laroche acquired the L'Avenir Estate. Wiehe, then 67, doubtless sought to retire, affording Laroche a rare opportunity to secure an operating property in the Cape's most sought after district. François Naudé also retired at the end of that year to consult. With the transfer of ownership, Tinus Els returned to his native South Africa to assume the position of CEO and Winemaker at L'Avenir.

Born in 1970, Els was raised in Orkney, in the North West Province, and between 1991 and 1993 completed a diploma in viticulture and oenology at the Elsenberg Agricultural College in Stellenbosch. Between 1993 and 2000, he held positions at Nelson's Creek in Paarl; Koelenhof in Stellenbosch and Nordale in Robertson, with an interval for his first European harvest in Bordeaux in 1999.

In 2000, Els left Nordale to take a flying winemaker position with IWS (International Wine Services) for three years, and then with HwCg, a highly innovative U.K. importer and marketer with a forward thinking business model that includes corporate support of the producer at the winemaking level, not only in quality but in concept of product as part of overall market strategy. For the last three years of his six with HwCg, he was based in Cambridge and involved in of a number of projects in France, Spain, Chile and South Africa. At L'Avenir, Els directs all aspects of the estate's activities, with help in the winery of Winemaker Pieter-Neil Rossouw.

In April of 2007, Michel Laroche took another rare opportunity to purchase the property immediately adjacent to the east of L'Avenir, called the Sentinel for its rather eccentric, crenellated, fortress-like structure overlooking the highway. Beyond annexing a somewhat embarrassing piece of architecture and widening the highway frontage, this added recently planted vineyard acreage to the L'Avenir holdings as well. The total estate footprint is 118 hectares (292 acres), of which 63 ha (155) are planted to vineyards. Of these, 70 ha (173, with 120 in vines) lie on the original L'Avenir estate and the remaining 48 ha (119, 35 in vines) on the Sentinel estate, where most of the unplanted area remains. Vineyards range in age from new to 30 years. Most blocks date between 1988 and 1999. The Chenin Blanc vines are among the oldest in South Africa.

The estate buildings are extensive and have been largely refurbished and beginning in 2006. The winery was renovated, with capacity in stainless steel tanks and collateral equipment expanded in November of 2006, and the warehouse area extended in July of 2007. A new bottling line was installed in of January of 2008, and late in the year significant storage capacity in stainless steel tanks was added.

Other structures on the original property, primarily the estate manager's residence, administrative offices and the L'Avenir Lodge, have been modernized. The latter, a four star luxury bed and breakfast, is an eleven suite retreat with a central great room, deck and breakfast alcove looking across a shaded infinity pool. Each with individual deck or terrace, the rooms are fresh, gracious and welcoming, with native African decorative elements. The Sentinel structure was architecturally streamlined to fit more comfortably in its environment, and is now a crisp, contemporary cellar door and tasting bar with offices and meeting rooms on the upper floors and a panoramic, pergola covered roof deck to host sunset receptions. A substantial professional kitchen connects the main building to an event venue able to accommodate up to 300, for which catering is subcontracted out.

L'Avenir Vineyards
+27.218895001