OUR FAMILY TREE: PIONEER JACOBUS DE WET

old Cape mapThe De Wet family has farmed at Excelsior since 1859, when Koos de Wet started clearing the Little Karoo veld to plant. He was a direct descendant of the first member of the De Wet family to settle in South Africa, Jacobus de Wet, who was an official of the Dutch East India Company.

Jacobus was born in Amsterdam on May 16th, 1673. He was the son of a Dutch painter whose works still hang in the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam, alongside those of Rembrandt. He arrived at the Cape in 1693. In 1697 he was made cellar master of the VOC and becomes well-known as one of the first winemakers in Cape Town and, indeed, in the Southern Hemisphere.

How did he know so much about wine? It remains a bit of a mystery, although the likelihood was that he was probably an expert at making brandy. The Dutch controlled the world brandy market and it was more easily shipped. Nevertheless, he was a visionary who started the first of 9 generations of De Wets in the SA wine industry.

More information on this great man here:

Next time we’ll tell you more about Koos de Wet, a love affair and the effect of the ostrich boom on the De Wet family history.

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