Long recognised for producing premium wines, Meerlust Estate has been the pride of the Myburgh family since 1756. Today, the dedication to the art of winemaking continues under the guidance of Hannes Myburgh, 8th generation custodian of this 17th Century national monument.
The first owner of the property, a German immigrant named Henning Huising, recognised the beauty and potential of the farm and settled there in 1693. He named his new-found home Meerlust, meaning ‘pleasure of the sea’, as the manor house sits on a granite outcrop only 5km from False Bay (15km south of Stellenbosch), and in the warm summer months the vineyards are refreshed by ocean breezes and evening mists which roll in from the coast. The grapes ripen slowly, thereby achieving full, concentrated varietal flavours.
Meerlust were the pioneers of Bordeaux varietals in the Cape, and were the first to produce their iconic, award-winning wine, ‘Rubicon’ in 1980. When visiting Bordeaux, Nico Myburgh, Hannes’ father discovered that the climate and soil was similar to that of the Eerste River Valley – a watershed moment. At the time, the red wines produced by the two regions, however, were very different. Unlike the Western Cape’s specified cultivars, Bordeaux thrived on producing blends.
Nico returned to Meerlust, filled with inspiration and the desire to create a blend of his own that would match those produced in France. In 1980, after several years of experimentation together with winemaker Giorgio Dalla Cia, he announced the birth of the new blend. With proportions of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, a new style of wine had been created in South Africa. The pair had crossed a new frontier, making an innovative step towards shaping the South African production of today.
The name Rubicon comes from the Rubicon River, the border of the ancient capital. It is said that Julius Caesar led his troops to Rome and making the crucial decision to cross the Rubicon, marked an irrevocable point in history. This move shifted the course of Roman politics – there could be no turning back.
Cellar master, Chris Williams has been in charge of winemaking since 2004 having previously worked as Assistant Winemaker on the estate from 1995. He studied Oenology at Elsenburg and gained international experience in France while working for Michel Rolland. His interest was aroused in the classical French wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhone Valley.
The Myburgh family has a commitment to social responsibility and has a long history of investing in their workforce through the Meerlust Foundation, which aims to provide a safe and stimulating environment for the children of the farm workers. To further this, the Myburgh Family Trust was established, to initiate projects that would benefit their farm workers in a meaningful and economically viable way.