Vergelegen Wine Estate has been declared a Western Cape provincial heritage site. Picture: Supplied.

Vergelegen Wine Estate has been declared a Western Cape provincial heritage site. 

The iconic attraction was also recently voted best wine estate in Africa at the World’s Best Vineyard 2019 competition. 

Minister Anroux Marais, the Western Cape Provincial Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, unveiled a Provincial Heritage Site plaque at Vergelegen in Somerset West, a media statement revealed. 

This declaration protects the historic core, which comprises the beautiful homestead and complementary buildings, 17 extensive gardens, the central working farm area, and a planned arboretum. These make up 1120 hectares of the vast 3020-hectare estate, set between the Helderberg and Hottentots Holland mountain ranges. 

The remaining 1900 hectares of the farm is conserved for future generations, following their promulgation last year as a private nature reserve with the same protection status as the Kruger National Park. 

“The 319-year-old wine estate owned by Anglo American plc has now been formally recognised as a treasure trove of history, culture, architecture and horticulture. The high historical value of Vergelegen in the first decade of the 18th century is now acknowledged,” Marais said in a statement, referring to the original founder, William Adriaan van der Stel. 

The Cape governor transformed the land from a military outpost into a highly productive model estate, selling produce to the Dutch East India Company, then the leading commercial power in the Indian Ocean region. Guests at the event included Anglo American South Africa deputy chairperson Norman Mbazima, who is also chairman of Vergelegen, Dr Mxolisi Dlamuka, CEO Heritage Western Cape, Dr Antonia Malan, Chairperson Heritage Western Cape,  Anroux Marais, Western Cape Provincial Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport and Vergelegen Managing Director Don Tooth, who has led the revitalisation of Vergelegen since its purchase by Anglo American plc in 1987.

Tooth said the event is the culmination of a great vision that began with Gavin Relly, then chairman of Anglo American.

 “From the start, the purpose was to restore and develop this historic jewel to reach its full glory, and to open it to the public for all South Africans to enjoy. We are completing the circle today, recognising that this heritage belongs to the nation.”

Tooth told IOL Travel earlier this year that visitors can easily spend a few hours at the wine estate. 

“There is something for everyone, from the wine lovers, parents and their children, to the grandparents.

“If you plan to visit, try their wine tasting. Held at the Tasting Centre, which overlooks an extensive octagonal-shaped herb garden, guests get to sample Vergelegen’s range of award-winning wines. Cellar tours, heritage and garden tours are by appointment only,” he said. 

Dr Antonia Malan, Chairperson Heritage Western Cape, said: “This farm represents layers and layers and layers of stories. It is a culmination of many years of interest and work.”

Vergelegen is open from Monday to Sunday, from 9am to 5pm. Entrance is R10 for adults and R5 for pensioners and scholars. Pensioners visit for free on Mondays.