Following on our history series and the patriarch Koos de Wet who started the De Wet farming legacy on Excelsior, today we take a look at his youngest son, Kowie, great-grandfather to the current De Wets, Peter and his family. Kowie farmed with wine and also became one of the most successful ostrich breeders in the district. The early 1900’s was however a tumultuous time for Excelsior starting with the Anglo Boer War and its difficulties. Then came the brief but spectacular success of the Ostrich Feather Boom that ended as quickly as it started.
The demise of the ostrich feather industry was the advent of the automobile. Lavish bonnets and boas were unpractical fashions for driving in a fast car and were replaced with tight fitting hats and scarves almost overnight.
If that wasn’t enough, they also had to live through World War One, the depression and World War Two. But after every setback, the De Wets made a plan, kept their heads high and looked ahead. What kept the business afloat were the horses. Kowie and his son Oscar shifted their focus to horses after the crash of the ostrich boom.
What started as a small business breeding cart horses grew into a racehorse stud with winners like Gondelier, that won the July in 1985, or San Louis, that won the Guineas. A few of our wines are named after these remarkable horses, but each warrants a blog entry of its own, so there is more to come on this story.