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The scene shifts to the Drakenstein, sparsely populated with only 23 Dutch freeburgers having settled there before. The valley is majestically beautiful, though quite rugged, with dense forests, game, lion and leopard, and the only human inhabitants, some nomadic Khoi. The pioneers lived in simple clay and reed homes. This is where De Savoye became the owner of a magnificent piece of land against the foothills of the Napoleonsberg (today known as the Simonsberg).
The area of Simondium is named after Reverend Pierre Simond who established the first church in the area. The left wing of LUST Bistro & Bakery is the original building of Simond’s first house. It is believed that the first Sunday trading in the Cape Colony took place at Vrede en Lust due to the first protestant church which was built on the estate. The original deed for Vrede en Lust was issued in April 1694 by the Honorable Governor and Councilors J.G. De Grevenbroek, who was the Secretary at the Castle of Good Hope.
He was granted full power and authority to plow, sow, cultivate, and afforest the land, as well as to own and administer it. Additionally, he was authorized to sell, rent out, or dispose of the land as he saw fit, in accordance with the applicable laws of the government at the time.
He called his farm Vrede en Lust (Peace and Delight/Eagerness), nurturing visions of a rural paradise where he could spend his last days. He immediately started improving the 55 Ha of land that starts at the Bergrivier valley floor and runs up the eastern foothills of the majestic Simonsberg Mountain. By 1692, De Savoye was running a successful mixed farm enterprise. Bar-one, he produces the most wheat and barley of all burghers. By that time he owned 4 horses, 30 cattle, slaves and 10 000 vines. This grew to 80 000 by 1780.
Since the de Savoye reign, Vrede en Lust has changed hands a number of times. This includes ownership by Willem van Zyl, the first owner who in essence was a farmer. The Drakenstein community regarded him as extremely successful. The fourth generation was the De Villiers brothers, who were among the few Huguenots who actually had practical experience in viticulture.
The exceptional winemaking potential of the land.
In 1996, when the Buys family became the 17th owners, they embarked on a program of renewal to fully realise the exceptional winemaking potential of the land. Today this breathtakingly modern wine farm, a family owned and managed wine business, is a tribute to its noble roots and continues to build on over 335 years of history and heritage.
The property was deeded to Vrede en Lust Farms (Pty) Ltd and soon thereafter Dana Buys got the opportunity to prove his bona fides. When neighbouring Wolve Kloof came onto the market, Dana Buys honourably reunited the two historic sections of Vrede en Lust. Vrede en Lust now looked like it did in 1783, when 25-year-old Jan de Villiers, the father of two infants, inherited half of the original freehold (sixty morgen plus the four morgen 500 square roods annexed by his father from La Motte). Shortly before selling, owner Rob Morley had the land surveyed and the boundary line moved, because it ran right through the house in which he had been living, and which had been the farm manager’s house for many decades.
For all intents and purposes Wolve Kloof thus gained about 3 000 square metres, and a new numbering system came into effect. On the deed of transfer (T60480/97), the farm was officially renumbered as Erf 1537, no longer a part of farm 950. The top section is reached by a road running parallel to the border with Fredericksburg (in the previous century, this same road was used by neighbours to get to the church at Simondium). The road passes through a gate where there used to be a smithy on one side and a mill on the other.
Since 14 August 1838 it has been used as a private or church road only.
Buys, the eldest of three brothers, entered into a partnership with his younger brother, Etienne, to manage the farm and oversee the viticultural improvements. The modern farm measures 56 hectares, 48 of which have been planted to noble cultivars. Current plantings comprise predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, followed by Syrah and Merlot, with smaller plantings of Grenache, Malbec, Chardonnay, Petit Verdot and Viognier. The vineyards are interspersed with olive trees.
The farm’s signature wines have turned out to be fruit-driven. The Simonsberg slopes produce excellent quality Bordeaux cultivars and high quality Malbec. The soils are not homogeneous and range from alluvial to weathered granite. Such extremes are typical of the long thin farms that were allocated to the Huguenots. All grapes are produced according to environmentally-friendly methods.
Cabernet Sauvignon was planted in front of the historic cellar and in 1998 the former cattle pastures were planted to Syrah. The pastures above the homestead were turned into a delightful dam with wading birds and paddocks for the Buys family’s horses. On the Wolve Kloof section, table grapes and plums were replaced with Cabernet, Malbec and Merlot. Petit Verdot.
The acquisition of the top section of the farm was a sensible decision, not only from a historical point of view, but also in view of practical considerations. The only irrigation dam is situated on the Wolve Kloof section and may be supplemented with a 96 million litre allocation of water from the Berg River. Overlooking the dam is a farmhouse which was renovated in 1999.