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the legend

A Pioneer. An Innovator. A Traditionalist. A Legend and a Champion – in both Wine and SA Rugby.

Jan ‘Boland’ Coetzee, a product of the West Coast, stands as a South African wine industry and Rugby icon. Beyond his viticultural legacy, his story unfolded as a former Springboks rugby player where he formed part of the SA rugby team from 1974-1976 as flank-forward. A true trailblazer, he has left a mark on both South African wine and the realm of rugby.

After studying Oenology and Viticulture in at Stellenbosch University, his journey started as winemaker at Kanonkop, creating the first bottled Kanonkop wine. He has always had a vision to rival Bordeaux.

When Jan originally purchased the farm in 1980 he had only one requirement: south facing slopes with close proximity to the ocean – False bay. After bottling his first Vriesenhof wine – he went to Burgundy to further his knowledge and experience through a style and philosophy he aligned with. One where nature leads and we follow, capture and bottle it.

Some Accolades

  • In 1982 – together with Billy Hofmeyr and others, he founded the Cape Winemakers Guild.
  • In 1983 he pioneered the first Chardonnay on Vriesenhof – from the vine that he had to smuggle into the country. He was determined and a true innovator.
  • In 2019 Jan received an Honorary Doctorate – Doctor of Science in Agriculture from Stellenbosch University
  • In 2020 Jan received the 1659 Medal of Honour – annual award an individual for his or her exceptional contribution to the South African wine industry.
  • The greatest honour to the wine industry however, comes from Jan himself: in every bottle of Vriesenhof wines.

In his own words

“Stellenbosch has always inspired me. It’s where I was educated, learned the great game of rugby, started a family and made many friends. It is also where I have come to fulfil my passion and fascination for the noble art of winemaking.  It all began in 1980 when I purchased the farm Vriesenhof in the Paradyskloof Valley. Together with my team, I set about cultivating plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinotage and Pinot Noir. I’ve always believed that one’s footsteps must be in the soil, you must understand the soil, the plant and the climate.”  


Jan spent 12 years at Kanonkop as winemaker and viticulturalist where he met Billy Hofmeyr – a wine-lover, winemaker (who made the country’s first Bordeaux blend) and friend who had a keen interest for Burgundy and their winemaking style.

After bottling his first Vriesenhof wine in 1981, Jan spent a season in Burgundy learning and working with the French traditional experts.

However The French way is set in stone – and Jan went by his own rules, including natures rules. After his time in France he was inspired to plant Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at Vriesenhof (on the same farm) – which would never sit well with the French, to which Jan’s response is just: “n Frenchman farms in France. We farm in South Africa.”

Jan pioneered Chardonnay in the Stellenbosch region with a strong belief that the worlds greatest varietal, with its adaptive nature, could happily grow in the acidic soils of clay and granite – and didn’t need limestone to create a great Chardonnay.

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