A Fine Pairing: South African Estates and Wine
With a deck mounted precariously on the edge of a ravine and acres of vineyard to the back, the Bramon homestead is not short on drama.
“When we first visited the property it was all wattle,” says Peter Thorpe, who owns Bramon with his wife, Caroline. “We walked through and saw this incredible waterfall and that sold it for us.”
Indeed, from any room of the three-bedroom modern farmhouse the sound of gushing water can be heard; a vista across an immaculate turquoise pool is centered on the thundering 214-foot cascade of water. The estate, a pioneer of South Africa’s Plettenberg Bay wine region, is on the market for R29 million, or about $2.5 million.
A small resort town at the end of the Garden Route, Plettenberg Bay, known as Plett, is 300 miles east of Cape Town. Built along the sea bay, the town and the area around it are known for pristine beaches, forests, and superb polo pitches. The population swells during South Africa’s summer months, with a lucky few staying in exclusive beachfront mansions on Beachy Head Drive and Lookout Beach, where an empty lot can set you back $1 million and mansions start at $3 million.
Plettenberg Bay’s weather conditions are well suited for cold climate grapes—the Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays, and Pinot Noirs.
According to Ling Dobson of Pam Golding Properties, sales have stabilized over the past couple of years, and in and around town prices for four-bedroom homes range from $250,000 to $400,000. There are occasionally big-ticket sales: last year, Dobson sold a six-bedroom beachfront mansion for $3.5 million, and a non-working 170-acre farm in the outlying area for $2 million. (Pam Golding Properties is listing the Bramon estate.)
The wine region, which covers parts of Plettenberg Bay and the surrounding area, is modest in size, often with farms of only a few acres producing boutique quantities under the watchful eyes of the owner families.
Thorpe, Bramon’s owner, grew up on a wine farm in the Cape’s Tulbagh area but didn’t initially plan to produce wine at his Plettenberg estate. “Once the transfer deeds were signed, I thought, ‘What now?’” he laughs. “The climate is a lot cooler than the traditional Cape wine-making areas, and after analyzing the soil and marking the sea breeze, I thought, ‘Let me see if I can plant some grapes.’ I was curious as to what sort of wine we’d get.”
Eight years later and Bramon is now the biggest of the 16 wine estates that have sprouted in the area. A popular restaurant and cellar complete the estate. The 2013 Sauvignon Blanc bottled under the Crags label won silver in South Africa’s international Michelangelo wine awards, and gold in the Vitis Vinifera awards. Platter’s Guide, which covers South African wine, awarded the Sauvignon 4½ stars out of a possible five.