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Muratie owner tour, wine and lunch

September 6 @ 11:00 am - 3:00 pm


Authentic, working wine farm with a long and fascinating history come to life with our tour by Dr Rijk Melck, who with his family own Muratie.

Each wine is named after a person who has played a role in its long history.  Recently this was the Johanna Davids rosé; she has lived on the farm since the 1940s (image above).

Rijk will show us the tiny house (more like a stable) where the first farmers lived. The way they used to make wine can still be seen. There is a previous owner’s studio (see below). Hopefully we’ll be able to go into his mother’s farm house, full of antiques, old family possessions, paintings and sculpture.

Lunch will be in a special setting for us; two courses from the farm kitchen overseen by Rijk’s wife, Kim Melck. Wine tasting is interwoven with the stories over lunch.

To book:

kate@cultureconnectsa.com WhatsApp/phone +27(0)72 377 8014

After 23 August the price will increase from R550 to R750; for non-drinkers R200 reduction

This is our third Culture Connect – always a treat and hit

10% discount on all wine purchases on the day

Muratie history

The first Western “settlers” of Muratie were German. The Dutch East India Company (VOC) “granted” the land to Laurens Camphor in 1699. He married a freed slave, Ansela van de Caab, whose ancestry was West African (one of Muratie’s award winning red wines is named after her). Their modest farm dwelling appears on the original title deed. Like farmer’s homes all around the world at the time, the livestock, including chickens, lived in the same building.  Images of what it looks like today are below, taken during previous Culture Connects led by Rijk.

After a succession of German born owners, it was the turn of the French.  Hercules Du Preez III, was the sixth owner and although he was born in South Africa, his father was a Huguenot who left France at the time of great religious persecution. Hercules took transfer of the farm in 1743. Both he and his wife spoke Dutch and French. Ownership was transferred to his brother-in-law, David Theron, in 1748 who sold the farm to Martin Melck in 1763.  Melck was a very different kettle of fish! He had worked in the building trade in Germany and therefore had experience in business. He married the widow of his first employer in the Cape which immediately made him the owner of two farms (Eisenburg and Hoopenburg). He also bought the farm Uitkyk amongst others and property in Cape Town.

Apart from being a successful farmer and businessman, Martin Melck involved himself in the affairs of the colony which is why his name is familiar to many of us. – Martin Melck House at 96 Strand St is currently the Dutch Consulate General. Next door is the Lutheran church. The VOC did not initially permit Lutherans to form a congregation for worship so Martin Melck allowed them to use his warehouse/packing shed.  He died before the building was revamped and turned into a church initially designed by Anton Anreith, known more for his sculpture and reliefs, including its magnificent wooden pulpit.  The exterior is striking and a well-known landmark in Cape Town – it is the oldest church still in use in South Africa so unsurprisingly a national monument.

After 134 years in the hands of the Melck-Beyers families, the farm was sold in 1897 as the heirs had other farms or interests. The new owners were William van der Byl (a “distinguished” Stellenbosch family) and Hugh Porter. Surprisingly this is the first time we come across a reference to the farm as “Muratie” in the title deed which was also the first time a deed of transfer was typed. ‘Murasie’ means ‘the ruins’ in Dutch – perhaps references the poor state of the buildings at the time?

The next owner of interest was George Paul Canitz who was an innovative wine producer despite knowing little initially. Pinot Noir and Gamay stocks were imported from France. Concrete fermentation vats were introduced in the 1930’s and are still here, outside the wine tasting’s main entrance. Under Canitz, the Muratie ‘brand’ became established, aided by wonderful advertising copywriting which I quoted at the start of our tour: “Remember Muratie wines are a necessity, a tonic, a nourishment and, in the words of a very celebrated English surgeon – there is no finer thing for the human body than red wine and sunshine” and “Muratie Burgundy is a tonic”.

Canitz was a fairly well known artist – exhibiting in South Africa and in London – British Empire Exhibition in Wembley in 1924 no less. His artwork, including pictures of himself and his daughter are still in the manor house (see below). He was well known for hosting fabulous parties, and I think this tradition continues with the newish event venue at the back of the old buildings – when we were there, there had been a big 50th birthday bash the night before and for Halloween I’m tempted to join the Dirtopia’s fun forest run (you can walk!).

Canitz’s daughter Annemarie (last portrait above) inherited and ran the farm. Culture Connect researcher, Marina Richards, recalls: “Many years ago in about the mid-1970s a friend of mine discovered Muratie and got friendly with the “old lady” as he described her, and used to visit frequently for long chats about wine but it was one of those well-kept Cape Town secrets. She became a legend in her own lifetime.” Annemarie died aged 91 in 1991. The Canitz’s had owned Muratie for 61 years.

It was Rijk’s father, winemaker Ronnie Melck, who persuaded her to sell the farm to him “fulfilling a life long dream”. Rijk took over from Ronnie, despite a very different first career in medicine; he was a ships’ doctor, practiced in London and was a GP in Stellenbosch. He is now very hands-on at the farm, along with his wife, Kim, who loves cooking. His mother lives in the manor house, while they are next door in the ‘jonkers’ house. They have two grown-up daughters, one of whom shows an interest in the farm.

I have a fuller history of Muratie if you would like it.




September 6
11:00 am - 3:00 pm
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