The La Motte Wine Estate in Franschhoek

Vol.4, Issue 12

Writes Tjonane Matla

“Welcome to La Motte Hon. Minister, and happy independence day. My wife, Hanneli sends her regards, we were just talking about Lesotho’s Independence Day, as it coincides with Dr. Anton Rupert’s birthday, and you know he actually travelled to Lesotho to see her acquire her independence”. Hein Koegelenberg – CEO of La Motte Wine Estate situated in a beautiful Franschhoek Valley in South Africa’s Cape wine-lands as he welcomed the Lesotho’s Minister of Forestry and Land Reclamation to La Motte on the morning of the 4th of October 2013.

“Thank you for having us, you know Dr. Rupert was very instrumental in establishing LNDC and its subsidiaries such as Kolonyama pottery and Kolonyama candle, but most importantly to me the development of the mohair tapestry products, which was one of our major exports while I was still with the Lesotho Co-operative Handicrafts.” Commended the Minister Khotso Matla.

Nevertheless, the Minister was there to learn and explore the synergies from an empire of one of Africa’s legends, an industrialist business leader, entrepreneur and philanthropist – Dr. Rupert, a chemistry student who at  the beginning of the last century started with investment of only £10 and decades later ranked next to the Oppenheimers – Africa’s wealthiest family. He acquired La Motte in 1970 after the organization had changed ownership 18 times since its inception. According to the curator at La Motte; 9 of the previous owners were French, 4 English, 2 German, 1 Dutch then the Rupert family.

Who is Dr. Rupert?

Dr. Rupert was appointed honorary adviser on industry to the late Prime-Minister, Dr. Leabua Jonathan in 1966. In his unofficial biography  by Ebbe Dommisse in cooperation with Willie Esterhuyse – Rupert in response to a question by a journalist on what sport he plays, he said “I do mental gymnastics and I jump to conclusions”. That statement is again supported by the same authors in the same publication; “At Rupert’s suggestion the Lesotho Government passed legislation to establish the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC), analogous to the South African National Development Corporation”. The Rupert family has not only been friends of the Basotho nation, but has exclusively been longtime family friends to Lesotho’s Royal Family. This was confirmed by Chief Masupha Seeiso – His Majesty’s uncle during our recent visit with him.

About La Motte

La Motte is owned by Hanneli Rupert-Koegelenberg, daughter of the late Dr. Rupert and managed by her husband Hein Koegelenberg.

“La Motte Estate as you see is in the Franschhoek Valley and is believed to have been named after the French village La Motte d’Aigues, home to several Huguenots who left their country for South Africa in 1688. A number of these French refugees were granted land in the region that later became known as Franschhoek, which means ‘French Corner’ though it is of paramount importance to disclose that before the French it was Elephants’ Corner – probably where they had their meetings”. La Motte CEO introduces us, to La Motte history with a great sense of humour.

According to the CEO Hein; he and his wife Hanneli have assembled a dedicated team who oversee the different activities on the Franschhoek estate as well as La Motte’s Nabot in the Walker Bay coastal region where grapes are grown organically. As a result La Motte is home to some of South Africa’s finest wines, recognized internationally for their exceptional quality. To add more value to their wines, and in harmony with the production of wines, La Motte has also ventured into flower cultivation and the production of ethereal oils.

“For the classical music fans, we are famous for holding monthly classical concerts which feature international and local artists.” Hein added as he took us to what appeared to be either a private or family wine tasting room. We could see the cellars in the background, though the clear class door of the beautiful room which contained lots of family memorabilia, literature and rich history of framed photographs of the Ruperts for visitors to appreciate.

Before reaching the private tasting room, we went through a huge and fabulous wine estate’s tasting room, which we understood to be it a well-known destination for visitors to the valley and which offered a variety of wines to taste as well as guidance on food pairings. This room can accommodate say, 15 – 30 couples at the same time.

We could possibly conclude that to begin a tour at La Motte, the journey starts in the tasting room, and in our case we were introduced to  – The La Motte Collection, Limited Release, The Classical Collection, The Pierneef Collection (produced in honour of South African artist Jacob Hendrik Pierneer [1886 – 1957], famous for his portrayal of the unadorned beauty of the South African landscape and its architects) and lastly the owner’s own collection – Hanneli R; a shiraz-based blend produced from hand-harvested grapes, selected exclusively when a vintage have yields of exceptional quality. Hanneli R is matured in new wood for thirty months and released at least four years after harvesting.

According to the CEO, the crafting of this wine embodies the values of hard work and total dedication – values that were passed on to Hanneli by her parents, Dr. Anton Rupert and Ms. Huberte Rupert, and are shared by everybody who contributes to the La Motte’s culture of excellence.

True to its philosophy of a culture of excellence, we were told that La Motte maintains a programme of consistent quality improvement, extending beyond wine production. The estate has a strong commitment to historic and cultural preservation, as well as the active socio-economic upliftment of its workers and their families. Last but not least, we were also made to appreciate that La Motte in all its activities and attractions, is fully committed to its credo “A Culture of Excellence”. Therefore the wines of La Motte Estate have been crowned with Gold at all of the most prestigious international competitions and events. Had Gold been awarded to wine tourism destinations too, this estate would, no doubt, be wearing a glittering crown!

“Apart from being one of South Africa’s most respected producers of world-class wines, La Motte Wine Estate whose viticulture was established on the farm with the planting of 4 000 vines in 1752 is enjoying an exceptionally beautiful setting in South Africa’s Cape wine-lands. Moreoverit excels in offering its visitors an experience that goes far beyond wine. Its historical charm, its stylish offering in the enjoyment of wine, cuisine and the arts, and above all, its people’s warm spirit of sharing, set this Estate apart as a wine tourism destination – truly in a class of its own!”  Hein concludes his tour with us, as we entered La Motte Museum, where he handed us over to the Curator as he had to rush to another scheduled appointment after spending 3 hours with us.

To round up our inspiration, after enjoying Pierneef’s fine art work we concluded our trip with a shopping Spree with a Difference. This is where we further enjoyed browsing through the La Motte Farm shop, a quaint country shop with fascinating selection of farm-baking and take-home reminders like aprons, Classical Music Collection of the owner and inspiring books like the biography of Dr. Rupert. We were also told that, in season, fresh produce and flowers such as disas, grown on the estate, can be purchased, while one enjoys a cup of tea in the surrounding garden, rewinding a wow experience of La Motte.

So why La Motte and what is the future?

“Our extremely distressed and indigent country would take a gargantuan effort if it was to replicate Franschhoek or Stellenbosch in the Mountains of Lesotho, though with sound research methods and land policy, dedicated intelligentsia, and willing labour force. We can convince Foreign Direct Investment from the same Cape Wine-lands to first consider contract farming with us, package, market and brand, and then distribute our majestic produce. However I have learned that an earnest and staid cash flow commitment must be made. It shall not be easy, but if approached correctly, time could be shortened, especially if sacrifices and discipline could be made by Basotho themselves. However how do we introduce the concept to our people? That is where the media fits in, and that is why you are here!” The Minister of Forestry and Land Reclamation commended while leaving La Motte Wine Estate.

N.B.:

What to write home about!

  • La Motte exports its wine to more than 40 countries
  • It is listed amongst 30 top wines in South Africa
  • Its CEO travels 115 days around the globe per annum doing serious marketing and administration in overseas ventures
  • It supplements its grape supply from contracted farmers all over Western Cape, a South African Province with more than 10,000 plant species, good soil and temperatures.
  • La Motte has more than one million sales reps in China, 700 of which were awarded an incentive to holiday in Cape Town this year, after bringing R 340 million turnover from China alone last year.
  • Last year 2.8 million bottles were exported to India
  • The company enjoys about 35% of the SA export market, where its sister distribution company sells other SA brands abroad.
  • La Motte produces only 3000 bottles of its most exclusive wine Hanneli R and this wine is sold to only three buyers in the world.
  • Next year’s harvest has influence in what you shall sell in three years’ time in case of red wine.

La Motte Wine Estate is situated on the R45 regional road just outside the town of Franschhoek.

GPS co-ordinates: Latitude 33 degrees 53’0.91” S; Longitude 19 degrees 4’21.57” E.

Inquiries: La Motte Wine Estate, P.O. Box 685, Franschhoek 7690, South Africa.

T +27 (0)21 876 8000 F +27 (0)21 876 3446 E cellar@la-motte.co.za  www.la-motte.com

For more information please visit www.la-motte.com or call +27 (0)21 876 8000.

Picture gallery (click on picture to enlarge)

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