Brinks continue family’s wine legacy

Nearly 300 years ago Captain Olof Bergh, of the Dutch East India Company, and his wife, Anna, set up farm at Groot Phesantekraal on the outskirts of Durbanville.

Today the historic farm is in the hands of fourth-generation owners, André and Ronelle Brink.

The Brinks hosted an early celebration of the farm’s 300th birthday and commemorated 120 years of Brink family ownership on Wednesday October 18 when they launched their maiden Blanc de Blanc 2015 Cap Classique and Pinotage 2016, as well as new vintages of their rebranded range of Groot Phesantekraal wines.

One of Durbanville’s oldest farms, the heritage that is Groot Phesantekraal dates back to 1698 when Cape Governor Simon van der Stel granted the land to its first owner, Captain Olof Bergh.

A story of love, triumph and perseverance is woven into the farm’s history.

Olof Bergh’s heart was captured by the beautiful Anna de Koning, daughter of a freed slave in the Jan van Riebeeck household. Anna and Olof married in 1676 and together they farmed the land now known as Groot Phesantekraal.

Records show that by 1756 some 40 000 vines had been planted on Groot Phesantekraal.

In 1759, the property was sold to the Louw family and later purchased by Arend Brink in 1897. Primarily devoted to mixed farming (grains, cattle and sheep), André (Oubaas) and Ronelle planted vineyards covering 50ha of its 840ha expanse in 1996.

These replaced mostly old bush vines from which they harvested grapes to supply what is now Distell as well as some leading Stellenbosch wineries for their top-quality labels. Since launching their own wine label in 2005, the Brinks continue to sell the majority of their grapes – primarily Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz – to big-name cellars, retaining only some 50 tons for their own wines.

Mr Brink believes the Durbanville wine industry is slowly but surely starting to gain momentum and said they have a good working and personal relationships with the farmers in the area.

“We are a small wine-making community and we depend on each other, even though we compete in the same industry,” he said.

Ms Brink said there were many different versions of the name Phesantekraal and said they decided to go back to the original “Groot Phesantekraal” brand in July.

“We are still in the re-branding process, slowing bringing in the new label. We are linking to the family crest, bringing the farm and family, closer to the wine,” she said.

The rich heritage of the farm is woven into the fabric of the estate, most notably in the rustic restaurant located in the original stable that dates back to 1767: a charming mixture of past and present.

The recently renovated tasting room’s central feature is a wall of shelves lined with classic glass bottles with a wide selection of herbs, spices and teas. Next door is the original chicken coop where private tastings are held.