once upon a wine

The Coetzees arrived in Table Bay around 16-voetsek (1679 to be precise) and lovingly took into their possession, their first piece of land in Stellenbosch in 1682 (today known as Coetzenburg). They later bought more land in the Jonkershoek Valley.

Jan Coetzee then went onto pursuing his passion by studying viticulture (the obsessive study of inebriated grapes) in 1963 at the Stellenbosch University.

In the December of 1980, Jan bought Vriesenhof (we’re unsure as to how many South African ronds it cost back then). Situated at the foothills of the Stellenbosch Mountain, Vriesenhof is where the ever-changing climatic effect of the Atlantic Ocean is evident throughout the year. And where the wine is ever-flowing.  

Jan’s first wine was produced under the majestic oak trees in 1981.

When he arrived on Vriesenhof, it was planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and pinotage. In 1983, Jan started planting Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. 

During 1987, close friends bought the neighbouring farm, Talana Hill. A few years later, the two farms were joined to form the estate which is now known as … (insert drumroll here) Vriesenhof Vineyards.  

His innovation continued in the mid-1990s when he added Pinot Noir and in 2009 when he planted Grenache vineyards.  

Since 2006, the majority of the farm has been replanted, except for a small vineyard of old bush vine pinotage at the top of the koppie, as you enter the estate. These vineyards concretise (we just wanted to use that word) the wines of the new generation.

our vines are not
twisted to suit
trends – a philosophy
we must defend

An important element of wine is its history, its background, its story. If the grapes feel at home in the land, they can tell the story that the land has written with a clear voice. In the 16th century Olivier des Sevres said, “Terroir is an alliance of soil and a complex network of plants and light.”

We interrupt this broadcast for some deeply profound words that will no doubt fluff your feathers …

Wine is not only the memory of terroir, but also the expression of place. It changes from vintage to vintage though – an ever-evolving memory adding not only to the history of place, but also to the relationship between nature and man. Every vintage is a true reflection of the triumphs and struggles of each growing season, but also the excitement of what that vintage can bring. In the words of legendary Australian winemaker, Jack Mann: “Nature creates, man only guides.”

In the words of the Vriesenhof family …

“The winemaker is a humble servant of nature. His role is to give nature the opportunity to produce the best possible wine.”

our brand story

We live in an age where everyone is encouraged to walk their own path, to constantly innovate or discard proven wisdom. The freedom to explore the road less travelled, ironically – led to a traffic jam of similar thinkers.

It’s become convention.

We have stood firm in the belief that a wine is not made to order nor our vines twisted to suit trends. We don’t see ourselves as the masters of the process but as guardians or caretakers. If the grapes feel at home in the land they will tell the story that the land has written with a clear voice.

We are humble servants of nature – and that is unconventional. (PS Apparently one might call this a mic drop).