Vergelegen is one of the oldest-established and celebrated wine estates in the Cape wine region of Stellenbosch, and today enjoys a reputation as one of South Africa’s, and indeed the world’s, premium wine producers. Ownership has passed through numerous hands since the first Governor of the Cape, a visionary Dutchman called Adriaan van der Stel, took it over in 1700 and converted a wilderness into a thriving farm. Each owner has left their mark on the estate and since 1987 Vergelegen has been the property of Anglo-American, the global mining giant, a Company which has invested millions not only into the regeneration of the vineyards but has also fostered an extensive programme of conservation. The latter scheme involves clearing 2,000 hectares of land infested with alien vegetation and allowing natural Cape flora and fauna to be restored. As far as the wines are concerned, enormous amounts of research have been conducted to identify the optimum areas for planting each varietal (Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc), while in 1992 a fabulous new winery was built on four levels with the emphasis on simplicity, minimum use of machines, and gravity flow. The final piece of the jigsaw was the engagement of André van Rensburg as winemaker. André is a legendary figure in South African wine circles, a larger-than-life character in every sense of the word. He makes a wide range of wines but is particularly successful when working with Bordeaux varietals, a skill for which 2 awards, in 2001 and 2003, of the Pichon Longueville Trophy for the Best Red Blend in the International Wine Challenge, bear eloquent testimony.
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