Times have changed since Koos de Wet (my Great, Great Grandfather) bought the farm in 1859. The farm was just native bush, with no buildings. Those days he farmed with ostriches, cattle, fruits such as peaches and apricots, as well as producing sweet fortified wines. South Africa in those days had very little infrastructure, so any fruit that was produced had to be dried, and any wine that was produced had to be fortified with spirits to preserve it. Cattle could be driven to market. For the rest agriculture was subsistence based.
My Great Grandfather, Kowie, introduced Hackney horses to Excelsior, and produced sweet fortified wines. The invention of the motorcar ended the Hackney horse industry, so he turned his attention to racehorses. During his time on the farm the ostrich industry also collapsed dramatically.
My Grandfather, Oscar, bred thoroughbred race horses, as well as Dairy cattle. He also produced sweet fortified wines. As you can see we always produced wine of some sorts.
The modern era of agriculture started with my father, Freddie, who introduced dynamic ideas like drip irrigation, and build a modern winery in 1981. This enabled modern dry wines to be produced. In the beginning these wines were mainly white, but in the early 1990’s reds were introduced as they suite the terroir of Excelsior. Due to changes in South Africa’s politics, we were able to export, so this was the next major change in way things were done at Excelsior.
Today Excelsior sells wine in over 20 countries, and we travel the world to sell our wines. So things have changed considerably in the past 150 years – unimagined changes. I am using the technology available to bring you insights into what it is like to be a wine farmer in South Africa 150 years after the business started.