Anglo’s 300-Year-Old South Africa Wine Farm Damaged by Fires

Updated on
  • Strong winds fanning blaze near vineyards outside Cape Town
  • London-based miner Anglo has owned Vergelegen since 1987

Vergelegen wine farm

Photographer: Heiko Meyer/laif/Redux

Anglo American Plc’s 300-year-old Vergelegen wine farm in South Africa has been damaged by wildfires as strong winds spread the blaze across parts of the country’s Western Cape winelands.

“There’s been quite a bit of damage to the wine-farm areas,” including Vergelegen, Theo Layne, a spokesman for the City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue department, said by phone Wednesday. While residents in the Somerset West area have been allowed to return to their properties, emergency crews remain on high alert as the fire hasn’t yet been contained, he said.

Willem Adriaan van der Stel, son of the Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, was granted the farm in 1700. London-based diversified mining company Anglo American bought Vergelegen, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) southeast of Cape Town, in 1987.

“The fire has not damaged buildings, but has damaged some of the land on the farm,” Pranill Ramchander, head of corporate communications for Anglo American South Africa, said in an e-mailed response. There have been no injuries and the company doesn’t have any confirmed information on what caused the fire, he said.

After Anglo acquired the property, whose name means “situated far away,” the wine-making and viticulture team spent a year digging more than 3,000 holes to analyze soil profiles and used weather stations to find the perfect terrain on which to establish its vineyards, according to the Vergelegen website.

“Since the production of its first wine in 1992, Vergelegen Estate and its wines have earned more than 200 awards, including winning the coveted Chateau Pichon Longueville Trophy twice for the Best Bordeaux Blend at the International Wine & Spirits Competition,” according to the website.

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