Diemersfontein Wine and Country Estate5th Apr 2017
Beauty, elegance and grace.
Diemersfontein is known for its encapsulating magnificence of beauty, elegance and grace – an idyllic wine estate only 45 minutes drive from Cape Town and situated in the heart of the Cape Winelands.
Diemersfontein has belonged to the Sonnenberg family for 3 generations, dating back to the early 1940s. David’s grandfather, Max, bought the 183 hectare farm, which lies in the shadow of the majestic Hawekwa Mountains and boasts a panoramic view of both Du Toit’s Kloof and Bains’ Kloof mountain ranges.
Central to the working wine estate, is the original family manor house, better known as the ‘Groot Huis’. The magnificent gardens were designed by Davids mother, Cecilia Sonnenberg and are reminiscent of an era when gracious living and tranquility were the order of the day. Displaying an abundance of roses and azaleas and set amongst beautiful old trees, this venue has become much sought after for weddings and other special occasions.
Max Sonnenberg, together with his son Richard (Dick), were the co-founders of Woolworths South Africa and also members of Parliament during the Jan Smuts Government. He and his family used Diemersfontein as a country retreat and during the war years, Italian prisoners of war were housed in the farm cottages. During the 1950s, Richard took over from his father and became more involved in the farming operations. His wife Cecilia, a well-known Cape Town actress and producer, was the co-founder of Maynardville Open Air Theatre – famous for its Shakespearian productions.
The family’s association and passion for the arts started with the delightful strains of opera singing that would drift up from the cottages housing the Italian prisoners. (Italians sure love to sing!) This tradition of being patrons and contributors to the arts has continued over the years, as the present owners, David and Sue Sonnenberg continue to be involved. Sue herself, an artist and chorister, understands the importance of encouraging and sponsoring local artists, and providing them the support they need to pursue their talents.
Richard Sonnenberg planted the first vineyards in the 1970s and in 2000 David built a cellar and started producing estate wines. Vineyard plantings include: Shiraz, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and also the “lesser known” varietals Viognier, Barbera, Roobernet and Mourvedre. Diemersfonteins’ maiden vintage (2001) won the Paul Sauer Trophy for a wooded Pinotage at the SA Young Wine Show, and today the Diemersfontein brand continues to enjoy the success in attaining numerous wine awards.
The option to live on this working farm exists for those who favor a wine farm lifestyle, with all the advantages and none of the responsibilities! All the smallholdings, the courtyard and fynbos mountain view sites are positioned in and around the vineyards to offer home owners magnificent views. Providing a secure environment with a sophisticated infrastructure, while losing nothing of the tradition and authenticity that is Diemersfontein Wine and Country Estate.
The “Excellence out of Africa Trust” was established to focus on efforts and resources in assisting young and talented artists in growing their talents and striving towards success.
Aims of the Trust:
Fundraising for studies and travel fees, especially for artists and musicians of excellence, to enable them to develop their careers both locally and internationally.
To provide a platform for artists to develop their profession through arranging events, concerts, master classes, etc.
To assist others in the search for new and developing talent.
To provide the structure through which previous beneficiaries of support can contribute to the development of younger talented people.
To fund sportsmen or students of excellence in any academic discipline.
To provide and seek financial support for learners at Wellington Preparatory School, or any other educational institution.
To support talented South African musicians
Over the years, Diemersfontein has hosted a number of benefit concerts, held both locally and abroad in an effort to provide financial assistance to talented musicians. One of the most memorable concerts was that of “Pretty Yende & Friends” held in the Cape Town City Hall in 2009. Back then Pretty was a beneficiary of The Excellence Out of Africa Trust, and today she is a proud example of a world famous artist that has made a success of her magnificent talent! At the age of 24, Pretty had achieved a world-first when she won all the top prizes in the prestigious International Hans Gabor Belvedere Chamber Music Singing Competition (of 3 000 participants from 50 countries) in Vienna, Austria. She also went on to sing duets with Andrea Bocelli at the closing of the 2010 World Cup concert, staged at The Dome in Johannesburg.