Cape Town — Ernie Els has carved out a larger slice of the Helderberg for his wine business. The golfer’s company has bought Stellenzicht‚ which neighbours its 72ha estate between Somerset West and Stellenbosch and dates back to 1692.
The "Big Easy" is a partner in the company‚ controlled since 2015 by Baron Hans von Staff-Reitzenstein‚ a German real-estate investor and industrialist. Andrew Harris‚ head of marketing and sales for Ernie Els Wines‚ told TMG Digital that the Stellenzicht deal was part of a strategy to secure more of its own fruit.
The 222ha property‚ with 91ha planted‚ is one of the largest in the region. Harris would not disclose the purchase price but said it was less than the rumoured listing price of R128m.
Ernie Els Wines‚ established 17 years ago‚ produces 100,000 cases a year‚ with almost half sold in SA. Its biggest export markets are the US and Germany.
Harris said the Stellenzicht purchase from Lusan Holdings did not mean output would increase. "We’re not really looking to chase a huge amount of volume. It all comes down to the Helderberg terroir‚" he said.
The Ernie Els team‚ led by winemaker Louis Strydom‚ will move to the new farm in early July but Lusan will own the Stellenzicht name for another two years while it sells off existing stock.
Replanting at Stellenzicht‚ traditionally a Rhône variety estate‚ will begin next year. Harris said while 60% of Ernie Els Wines were cabernet sauvignon‚ soil analysis would guide the replanting process.
Els has always been a passive investor in the business‚ said Harris. "I was with him on Saturday‚ and he’s very interested and passionate. We report to him monthly‚ and as long as there’s more black ink than red‚ he’s happy."