The De Wet family have farmed at Excelsior Estate, in the Robertson wine valley, since 1859 when Koos de Wet settled here and began clearing the veld of the Little Karoo.
Koos de Wet was a direct descendant of Jacobus de Wet, the first member of the family to arrive in South Africa. Jacobus, who was an official of the Dutch East India Company landed in Cape Town in 1697 and made planting vines a priority. He bought a large farm in Stellenbosch and later earned the distinction of being one of the first wine makers in Cape Town and the Southern hemisphere. Most of the de Wet family eventually settled in the Worcester area but after a family disagreement (he fell in love with his brother’s fiancé!) Koos de Wet came to the Robertson area and established himself at Excelsior Estate. He later divided his farm between his sons who went on to breed horses and plant vineyards. The third brother, Jacobus Stephanus (known as Kowie) inherited Excelsior and, in addition to producing wine, soon became one of the most successful ostrich breeders in the Robertson district.
Ostrich plumes were the essence of haute couture in the early 20th century and big business. At the height of the market a single ostrich plume was sold for £5, which could buy you a passage from Cape Town to London! South African ostrich breeders displayed their new found affluence in a style of architecture which became known as ‘feather palaces’. Kowie de Wet was no exception and built Excelsior Manor in the Cape Revival style; it has the characteristic elegance of the Victorian era, embellished with Cape Dutch gables. He furnished his new home with ornate European furniture and the de Wet family enjoyed entertaining and social events linked to the Cape Hunt and Polo Club.
The invention of the motorcar abruptly ended the fashion for ostrich feather millinery; ethereal bonnets and boas were no longer practical and were rapidly replaced by well tucked in scarves and tight fitting hats which better suited open top cars. Kowie and his son Oscar shifted their focus to breeding horses and cultivating vines; their quick thinking and good business sense saved Excelsior and it was one of the few farms not declared insolvent at the time.
Wine has always been made on the estate. It is now the most important crop on the farm and Excelsior exports wine to over 20 countries. The farm has 220ha planted with noble cultivars; Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. There are also small plantings of blending cultivars such as Petit Verdot and Viognier. Our aim is to produce full-bodied wines that display intense fruit. We achieve this by using strict vineyard practices to ensure a healthy, well ripened crop. We can use chemicals very sparingly thanks to the dry Robertson climate. When they are ready, our grapes are picked by hand which allows greater quality control.
EXCELSIOR MANOR GUESTHOUSE
Excelsior Manor Guesthouse offers luxury accommodation in the heart of the Robertson Wine Valley on a working wine farm. The Cape Dutch Revival Manor, once a family home, has been lovingly restored and offers elegant comfort and serenity along with personal hospitality.
There are nine classically decorated en-suite bedrooms with one offering facilities for the disabled.
Summer days can be spent beside the deep blue swimming pool which is situated on an elevated, yet secluded wooden deck on the southern face of the house. Enjoy breathtakingly panoramic views of the vineyards and the Langeberg Mountain ranges.
For the more adventurous explore the farm and scenic view points by mountain bike or golf cart. Vinophiles can blend, bottle and label their ‘Own Creation’ in Excelsior’s tasting room, situated on the water’s edge of the farm dam which is abundant with birdlife.
GRAZE @ EXCELSIOR
Come and visit us and enjoy one of our freshly baked ‘roosterbrood’ sandwiches with your choice of gourmet fillings. Our traditional breads are baked every morning in a wood fired oven and prepared using, where possible, local produce. The menu is changed on a monthly basis meaning that there is always something new for you to try.
Graze@excelsior is situated on the bank of the farm’s dam with a large expanse of lawn in front of it, perfect for the kids to enjoy themselves in view of but not necessarily earshot of their parents.
Children will be kept occupied on the jungle gym, in the sand pit or feeding the horses. In Summer there is a child-minder to take them fishing off the dam’s jetty.
Enjoy views of the waterbird life while enjoying your meal and then wander down to our tasting room with a deck spanning over the water’s edge to taste our full range of wines.
There is also a diverse range of local products for sale which showcases the abundance of talent in the Breederiver Valley.
For bookings please contact:
Deon on 023 615 1980 or 083 232 1569.
33 51’22.56S 20 00’28.80E