I first visited Landskroon in the late 1970’s and met the gentle giant of a man who was Paul de Villiers who looked after the wine production and his brother Hugo, who ran their prize Jersey Stud and their wives who were twin sisters. And their mother Madelief, one of the great ladies of the Cape. She ran a beautiful house with an immaculate garden and served the most wonderful tea you have ever come across in a country home. Taking London Wine Merchants there who felt they had experienced everything was to silence them with the awe in which they held this elegantly dressed, articulate in her second language, aristocrat of the Cape. At times you got lucky, Madelief serving a glass of her husband’s Port at tea with a slice of delicious buttery vanilla cake.
In the first edition of John Platter’s Book of South African Wines published in October 1980, John Platter, who with Erica Platter tasted all the wines and wrote the entire book themselves, said Cellarmaster Paul de Villiers “is an eighth generation Huguenot descended South African whose family has made wine without a break for nearly 300 years. Paul’s branch of the family moved to Landskroon about 100 years ago where they make deep -flavoured reds with traditional unfussy methods.”
Well, nothing changes and nothing stays the same. Paul Snr has passed on, the baton currently being borne by his namesake son Paul, the 5th generation de Villiers making fine wine at Landskroon. The beautiful long-lashed Jersey cows have gone and the head of the family Hugo now runs this family business which has five family members involved in the day to day running of the 200 ha Landskroon.
In that first Platter, reds ruled and John wrote well of the Cabernet Sauvignon “distinctive nose…and great balance all round. ’76 was outstanding.” Of the Pinot Noir “a very fine example”, the Cinsaut “makes arguably the finest Cinsaut in South Africa” and of the Shiraz “full, deep and robust.”
Today there is a state of the art cellar with all the ‘mod cons’ producing an eclectic range of red, white and fortified wines cleverly priced to be available to all pockets. The Paul de Villiers range, Landskroon’s über-premium range of wines regularly picks up 4 stars in the modern Platters.
Port, for which the family has justified fame, has been made by generations of Landskroon de Villiers’s and resulted in the current Paul being awarded the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year award in 2000.
As a place to visit it is a place where you find Cape hospitality at its finest, there’s a real “cuddle feel” in the tasting room. There is a 4 sleeper self-catering cottage if you want the complete Winelands experience and no shortage of excellent restaurants within a short drive if you want a rest from cooking.
Landskroon, though part of the social fabric of the Cape and steeped in its history, is a modern working winery and “well worth the detour” to quote the well-known Guide Michelin.
Paarl Winegrowing Region.
Winemaker Paul de Villiers Viticulturist Hugo de Villiers
Suid-Agter Paarl Road, off the R44, Suider-Paarl
P O Box 519, Suider-Paarl, 7624
Paarl Western Cape South Africa
Tel: 021-863-1039 Fax: 021-863-2810