Delaire Graff – the jewels in the crown

Delaire PanoramaThe view from the Delaire Graff Restaurant
Simonsberg in the background

Always exciting times up on the top of the Helshoogte Pass on the Delaire Graff Estate.

Most recent has been the launch of a book about Laurence Graff, who owns the Estate, published by Rizzoli New York / ISBN: 978-0-8478-4481-4.

1. Graff Coffee Table Book with SlipcaseGraff, Coffee Table Book with Slipcase

If you think you know Graff as a purveyor of legendary jewels of unparalleled perfection and breath-taking scale you only know part of the dazzling story. GRAFF recounts the fascinating history of Laurence Graff, a completely self-taught gemmologist whose attraction to diamonds started as a boy who apprenticed himself in Hatton Garden and flowered when he founded his eponymous house in 1960 at just twenty-two.

2. Laurence Graff holds a selection of the worlds most valuable gemstonesLaurence Graff holds a selection
of the world’s most valuable gemstones

“The sky’s the limit” quickly became the motto of a man whose confidence and skilled eye combined to create unprecedented displays like the iconic “Hair and Jewel” coiffure, a 1970 advertisement of a model with a million dollars worth of gems woven throughout her elaborate hairdo, which was revisited in a 2013 update featuring five hundred million dollars of gems to commemorate his 60 years in business. Vivienne Becker, one of the contributors of the book says, “With his singular passion for gemstones and a unique genius for business, Laurence Graff has journeyed from London’s East End to a place on the world’s stage alongside kings, presidents, and cultural icons”

17.Laurence Graff with girls from the Graff Leadership Centre in LesothoLaurence Graff with girls from the Graff Leadership Centre in Lesotho

Beyond diamonds, Laurence Graff is known on the African Subcontinent as being owner of the Delaire Graff Wine Estate in Stellenbosch and for his amazing social responsibility programmes.

18.The FACET Foundation funds a fleet of high-tech vans ...The FACET Foundation funds a fleet of high-tech library vans

There are jewels in the crown at Delaire Graff Wine Estate, the maker of the wine and the chefs in the two restaurants on the Estate.

Delaire Wine Maker - Morne Vrey (2) copyDelaire Graff Wine Maker, Morne Vrey

Morné Vrey is Delaire Graff’s award winning winemaker. A modest humble man who does not seek the limelight, but one who is admired by his peers, and certainly produces some great wines on the estate. In his first book in 16 years, My Kind of Wine, well known South African Wine Writer, John Platter quotes Morné as saying, “I like the purity of fruit to show in my wines.” The fruit doesn’t only show, it shines.

Michael Deg of Delaire Graff photo by Charles RussellMichael Deg in his vegetable garden
photo by Charles Russell

Michael Deg, the Chef at the Delaire Graff Restaurant, is producing some truly fine food. Nothing better than to sit on the patio overlooking one of the most spectacular of Cape views – down the side of the Simonsberg to the west and the Groot Drakenstein Valley ahead.

Michael Degs Goats Cheese & Beetroot appetiserMichael Deg’s Goats Cheese & Beetroot Appetiser

Virgil Kahn is the chef at the Indochine Restaurant which is part of the Delaire Graff Lodges on the Estate. Lodge seems such an ordinary word for a hotel so out of the ordinary.

Virgil Kahn Chef at Indochine Restaurant Delaire Graff Estate Virgil Kahn Chef at Indochine Restaurant Delaire Graff Estate

Surrounded by works by local artists, indeed as one is almost anywhere on the Estate, inside or outside, the hotel is one of great luxury. And having stayed there, the one thing that gets you is the silence. Virgil’s food is redolent of the spices of the East and he, like Michael Deg has access to the Estate’s organic vegetable garden.

The staff all glitter too, from the security staff at the entrance gate, through to reception, the well trained wine ambassadors and the wait staff, one gets a real sense of what hospitality is all about.

Tretchikoff's Chinese GirlTretchikoff’s The Chinese Girl

And the final jewel is The Chinese Girl by Tretchikoff. Amongst the artworks at Delaire Graff, this is probably the most widely known. It was Laurence Graff who bought this painting back to South Africa where it now stands in pride of place in the reception hall of the Winery.

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