Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  14 May 2012

VENTURES: Wiese On The Money - Again


Recent Western Cape Business News

THE second iconic wine farm in the Western Cape has fallen into foreign hands in less than a year.

Last month retail tycoon Christo Wiese sold the Lanzerac Estate in the Jonkershoek Valley on the outskirts of Stellenbosch to a foreign buyer.

The buyer’s identity was not identified, nor was the price tag on the well-know wine estate. Speculation around Stellenbosch is that the wine estate fetched between R200 million to R250 million with one observer noting the property was “uniquely positioned on the urban fringe and on the right side of Stellenbosch”.

Whatever the case Wiese has no doubt turned a massive profit on Lanzerac.

The sale of Lanzerac follows the decision last June by the Jooste family to sell Klein Constantia in the Cape Town winelands to international investment bankers Zdenek Bakala and Charles Harman for a rumoured R200 million.

Like Klein Constantia the Lanzerac wine estate carries plenty ‘heritage’ goodwill.

Lanzerac can trace its roots back to 1692 to the days of governor Simon van der Stel, who granted the land to parties who eventually incorporated the property into Schoongezicht.

Over the centuries the estate has seen various owners, but more recent recorded transactions state that in 1914 Schoongezicht was bought by Elizabeth Katherina English for 18 000 pounds. English changed the name of the farm from Schoongezicht to Lanzerac, and bottled the first Lanzerac wine from grapes grown on the land.

David and Graham Rawdon bought the property in 1958 (the same year that Stellenbosch Farmers Winery – now part of the Distell group - purchased the Lanzerac trademark). The Rawdons sold Lanzerac to a consortium in 1988, and in 1991 Wiese acquired the wine estate – purportedly for R2 million (when the value of the property was apparently more like R20 million).

Under Wiese’s ownership the Lanzerac hotel was extensively re-modelled into a renowned five star accommodation, the vineyards were replanted and a cellar was established.

Wiese notes: “Lanzerac has been sold as a going concern and the new owner is keen to continue with it in its present form. All members of staff are being retained.”

Wiese, who will still owns the large Lourensford wine estate outside Somerset West, says he is scaling down his farming operations to devote more time to his retail and other business interests.

Wiese is still a major shareholder in supermarket giant Shoprite, investment giant Brait and industrial conglomerate Steinhoff International.

CBN has previously reported on Wiese extensive investment sidelines – including mining and technology.

Some observers have argued that the sale of both Klein Constantia and Lanzerac was a vote of confidence in SA’s wine (and agricultural sector).

CBN wonders, though, whether foreign buyers will also emerge for other iconic wine estates – like Boschendal in Franschoek and Uitsig in Constantia, which are both rumoured to be up for sale.

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