Cape Town  -Saxenburg Wine Estate

Saxenburg Wine Estate

Contact Saxenburg
Phone 021 9036113

Guinea Fowl restaurant

Guinea Fowl Restaurant

Many of the wine estates found in the Western Cape date back to the early settlement by the Dutch colonists in the Cape. Saxenburg farm was established way back in 1693 when the Dutch East India company could no longer cope with the demand for supplies and started privatising farming in the Cape to meet the ever increasing demands for food. To alleviate the pressure farms were granted to men and their families in all parts of Cape Town and also in the Stellenbosch district, a newly discovered area named after Simon van der Stel. The farm Saxenburg which is situated about 30 kilometres ( a good days ride on horseback ) from the centre of Cape Town in an area today known as Kuils River was allocated to Joachim Sax who had arrived in the Cape from Germany in about 1691.

View from Saxenburg Estate

View from the Saxenburg Wine Estate

Sax was one of about 350 free burghers (free farmers) at the time who had been granted farms at the Cape. In typical German fashion Sax who moved onto the farm in 1693 immediately got to work establishing vineyards and building a manor house for his family. It is interesting to note that when farmers were granted farms in those days the land still belonged to the Dutch East India Company who actually rented the farms to the farmers. The size of the farm was not stipulated but the land received was measured in what a farmer could develop in three years. There were other conditions thrown into the rental agreement and the main one was that no tax would be payable for the first year but in the second year the farmer would have to hand over 10% of his grain harvest to the company. A further stipulation was that any indigenous tree that was felled by the farmer had to be replaced.

Sax worked hard and by 1700 owned 3 horses, 35 cattle, 200 sheep and had his land planted with 600 vines. Eventually on the 26th September 1704 Sax received free and full ownership of the land which would become known as Saxenburg, a combination of the names of the first two owners of the farm. Something must have happened to Sax as his ownership of the land only lasted six months and in March 1705 the father and son duo of Olaff and Albertus Bergh bought the farm.

Olaff Bergh who had arrived from Sweden in 1676 worked in the garrison at the Cape and became a close friend of Simon van der Stel. When a Portuguese ship ran aground near Cape Agulhas in 1686 Bergh was sent to salvage some of the goods on the ship. He stayed away for months and when contact was eventually made with him it was found that he had stolen many of the goods he had managed to salvage from the wreck. The Dutch tried him and he was sent to prison on Robben island in May 1687 for five years.

In June 1687 the threat of an attack from a fleet of French ships required that all able bodied men be recalled to the Cape. Bergh was freed and he returned to Cape Town to carry on where he had left off.

The Dutch however do not forget very easily and as soon as the threat of attack diminished he was once again banished from the Cape this time to Ceylon. Somehow he arrived back in the Cape in 1695.

Being a wily man he soon made himself indispensible to Simon van der Stel the Governor of the Cape who promoted him to a captain in the garrison and then later appointed him to the Council of Policy at the Cape. During this time his fortunes increased and by the time he purchased Saxenberg he already owned 297 morgen of land which was scattered all over the Cape Colony. Under Bergh and his son the number of vines increased annually and by 1751 he had in excess of 40000 vines planted on the farm.

In 1763 Bergh sold the farm to Johannes Groenewald. Over the next 235 years the farm regularly changed hands until in 1989 it was sold to its current owners Adrian and Birgit Buhrer. On arrival in South Africa from Switzerland they immediately moved into the Kuils River area and started work on the farm. They had a daunting task repairing the old manor house as its walls and roof leaked and it had no electricity. For the first couple of months they slept on mattreses on the floor of the house while they renovated the bedrooms. All the suffering eventually paid off and today the manor house is perfectly restored.

Entrance to  Saxenburg Estate

Entrance to the Saxenburg Wine Estate

Since 1989 the farm and the vineyards have been improved by the Buhrers. They have established a retaurant named “The Guinea Fowl” on the farm and together with their wine tasting facilities and wine sales have put the farm Saxenburg on the map.

Today the farm is 200 hectares in size and has approximately 100 hectares of land under vineyard. It is a beautiful farm with a lovely view out over the Cape Flats and Table Mountain in the distance. On arrival at the farm you are greeted by a number of wild animals such as gnu, springboks, ostriches, zebra and fallow deer. There are also a number of rare white and black springbok as well as the many guinea fowl after which the restaurant is named. The gardens are beautifully laid out with hundreds of flowering rose bushes and other indigenous flowering plants.

A visit to the tasting room is a pleasure as one is met by pleasant staff who know the wines that are on offer and are able to give advice if asked. Saxenburg is but a 30 minute drive from the city and is well worth a visit.

To get there drive yourself or take one of the many tours to the winelands that are on offer.

See you in the winelands soon.

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Saxenburg Wine Estate Kuils River