Lanzerac has a rich history dating back to 1692, the estate is situated at the foot of the picturesque Jonkershoek Valley. This iconic estate bottled the World's first ever Pinotage and has been synonymous with Pinotage ever since. The last decade has seen the farm rejuvenated in the vineyards with lots of new vines and effort spent to enhance the quality of the wines. This is now paying rich dividends with some stunning wines being produced by winemaker Wynand Lategan with the pinotage of course at the forefront of this renaissance.
Lanzerac’s history dates back to when Governor Simon van der Stel granted a considerable tract of land in the Jonkershoek Valley to Isaac Schrijver and three freed slaves who set about planting vineyards. Throughout the years the farm had many owners. The most notable is Mrs. Elizabeth Katherina English who purchased the farm in 1914, then called Schoongezicht, for the handsome price of £18 000 and changed the name of the farm to Lanzerac. Mrs. English bottled some of the first Lanzerac wine from grapes grown on her land where there were believed to have been 21 imported varietals growing. The present Lanzerac winemaking team honours the memory of this formidable lady through the Heritage Range Mrs. English Chardonnay.
1925 saw the birth of South Africa’s first, unique and indigenous wine grape variety Pinotage, which was a cross between Pinot Noir and Hermitage. This was the brainchild of Professor Abraham Izak Perold, who was appointed as the first Professor of Viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch, and later became Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture. The first wines that were made from Pinotage vines had an attractive and more intense colour than those of both parent varietals, frequently displaying a distinctive character, which was found to be very pleasing and intriguing. The former Stellenbosch Farmer’s Winery (SFW) purchased the Lanzerac trademark in 1958, taking over the management of Lanzerac’s vineyards the same year. SFW was the first to commercially use the name “Pinotage” on a wine label when they marketed the 1959 vintage under the name “Lanzerac”. This visionary release marked the birth of Pinotage as a unique variety from South Africa. In 1959 the iconic Lanzerac Rosé, in the famous teardrop bottle, was released. This Rosé has become the longest-standing wine in the Lanzerac range and is still being produced today. Dr. Christo Wiese acquired Lanzerac in 1991 from Distell, formerly known as SWF. He formulated a replanting of the vineyards, a new modern cellar was established and changed the operation to a top quality producing cellar, using only grapes from its own vineyards to produce the fine wines of Lanzerac, as is still the case today.
Dr. Wiese sold Lanzerac to a British consortium in 2012, who immediately finished off the replanting process of the vineyards, built the beautiful Tasting Room and Deli, as well as renovating each room of the iconic Lanzerac Hotel & Spa. Cellar Master Wynand Lategan has been in charge of making the Lanzerac range of award-winning wines since 2005. Together with his team and Lanzerac Viticulturist Danie Malherbe the range has been honed to maintain the excellent quality that Lanzerac has become known for.
Estate location: Lanzerac is located against the western foothills of Botmaskop in the Jonkershoek Valley, and comprises 162 hectares of which approximately 45 hectares are planted under vines. The remaining 117 hectares are left as mountainous fynbos. The farm has rich and fertile Tukulu soils, with an abundance of decomposed granite against the foothills of Botmaskop. Each vineyard’s soil is managed differently according to the varietal, soil type and the potential of both. Altitude: Vineyards range from 100 – 500 meters above sea level and contains northerly and westerly facing slopes. Vineyards: The age of the vineyards vary from newly planted in 2017 to 25 years. Since 2012 Lanzerac vineyards have been undergoing extensive new vineyard developments, as well as eradicating old vineyards, with the biggest increase in Pinotage and Chardonnay plantings.
The vineyards are irrigated, only if the rainfall is too low, from three dams on Lanzerac which accumulates water from mountain streams. 90% of the vineyards use drip irrigation on a scheduled programme, adapted according to daily temperatures and rainfall, whilst the remaining 10% of vineyards has micro irrigation systems. When a new vineyard is planted now, drip irrigation is always installed as a standard practice, as this method of irrigation uses the smallest quantity of water and thus preserves the environment the best way possible. Lanzerac’s vineyard practices are all aimed at achieving the perfect balance between healthy vines and low yields to produce the best quality wines. Soil samples are taken every three years to determine the well-being of the soil, whilst leaf samples are analyzed annually to determine the type and quantity of fertilizers needed.
Best Pinotage vineyard in Stellenbosch: In January 2016 Lanzerac won the the prize for the best Pinotage vineyard in the greater Stellenbosch region, a competition spearheaded by VinPro and regarded as the crème de la crème for viticulturists in the wine industry. This competition gives recognition to wine grape growers who apply the best viticultural practices in their vineyards, thus making a valuable contribution to the industry.