Vergelegen, meaning "situated far away", was granted to the Governor of the Cape in 1700 and the property has had a long and fascinating history since that time. Willem Adriaan Van der Stel, was a man of divergent interests who transformed the uncultivated land into a veritable paradise. He planted vines, camphor trees and oaks, laid out fruit orchards and orange groves, and introd... Read more
Vergelegen, meaning "situated far away", was granted to the Governor of the Cape in 1700 and the property has had a long and fascinating history since that time. Willem Adriaan Van der Stel, was a man of divergent interests who transformed the uncultivated land into a veritable paradise. He planted vines, camphor trees and oaks, laid out fruit orchards and orange groves, and introduced cattle and sheep. During its long history Vergelegen has developed a unique culture. It is embodied in physical properties, in its people and in the more aesthetic traditions handed down over the last 300 years. The property still gives pleasure to its numerous visitors with its layout, including the historic camphor trees and octagonal garden, the stately homestead and the fertile valley where fine wines are grownToday, it is one of those rare places where the visitor can begin a progressive discovery into a world that harmonises the past and present; where an air of dreaminess pervades; and where synergy between man and his bountiful environment is accomplished.Vergelegen is thought to have originated in 1685 when the High Commissioner of the Dutch East India Company instructed Commander Simon van der Stel to relocate the company's outpost in the Hottentots Holland. The company had bought the grounds in 1672 from the chiefs of the tribe that owned it. Simon van der Stel personally saw to the proportional planning of this new outpost with its posthouse, wheat store, cowsheds, orchards, vegetable gardens, wheat store and ditches, according to the "rules of mathematics and architecture".It is thought to have remained an outpost until 1 February 1700 when the 342 ha of freehold land was granted to William Adriaan van der Stel, the new governor of the Cape. (Willem Adriaan was the son of Governor Simon van der Stel who founded the famous Groot Constantia Estate in the Cape.) On his retirement his son became Governor and also the owner of Vergelegen - meaning, "situated far away". He planted vines and, after six years, had half a million vine stocks. He laid out fruit orchards and orange groves; he planted camphors and oaks; he established eighteen cattle stations with 1000 cattle and 1800 sheep. He made reservoirs, dug irrigation canals and controlled the Lourens River. Willem Adriaan also built a beautiful homestead, a corn mill and many other subsidiary buildings. The younger van der Stel was a man of divergent interests and he transformed the uncultivated land into a veritable paradise. For years he was in bitter dispute with Adam Tas and other Free Burghers. Finally his enemies triumphed and the directors of the Dutch East India Company, in a letter dated 30th October 1706, ignominiously dismissed him and ordered him to return to the Netherlands. Three years later, on the implicit instructions of the Company, Vergelegen was sold and divided into 4 separate farms. The homestead was ordered to be demolished, which only partially happened. Vergelegen passed through a succession of owners until 1798, when the Theunissen family took ownership of it for over a century. Under their care, the vineyards flourished. In 1917 Sir Lionel purchased the property for his wife Florence Phillips, who spent vast sums on the restoration of the old homestead, library and gardens. The old footbridge was replaced by a structure wide enough to accommodate motor traffic, roads were constructed and dams built. The vineyards were removed and replaced with mixed agriculture. After the death of Sir Lionel and later Lady Florence Phillips, Charles 'Punch' Barlow and his wife Cynthia acquired the estate in June 1941. Cynthia Barlow was as devoted to Vergelegen as Lady Phillips had been and it was fortunate that she had been able to purchase many of the beautiful pieces of furniture and works of art accumulated by Lady Florence. To this collection she added her own considerable treasures and the tradition of Vergelegen was maintained. The Barlow's resumed farming operations on Vergelegen and began planting vines on a small scale. 'Punch' Barlow's son Tom took over the running of the farm in 1966 until Anglo American Farms limited purchased the property in October 1987. One of the many projects undertaken by Anglo American Farms was to begin replanting the vineyards, following intensive climatic and soil tests. This historic property is now coming into its own as a showpiece of South Africa's recent wine renaissance. Throughout its history celebrities of international renown have frequently visited Vergelegen. Over the last decade Vergelegen has been honoured by the visits of the full Executive Committee of the ANC, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, and in March 1998 by Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton with their First Ladies. Read less
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Food Pairings for Vergelegen Chardonnay Stellenbosch Reserve
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