A gem in idyllic Franschoek

RARE INVESTMENT: This original Huguenot farm, L'Arc d' Orleans, is on sale for the first time, at R62-million
RARE INVESTMENT: This original Huguenot farm, L’Arc d’ Orleans, is on sale for the first time, at R62-million

AN EXCEPTIONALLY rare investment opportunity is on offer in the Franschoek Valley, regarded as the country’s premier wine region. One of the original Huguenot farms in the Wemmershoek area of the valley, L’Arc d’Orleans has come onto the market, priced at R62-million.

The property is a rare undeveloped gem and comes with three beautiful historic buildings that date to between 1747 and 1783 including the original manor house, says estate agent Dawie Pretorius. The farm is privately owned and one of the few that has not yet been developed into a wine tourism product, says the agent.

Apart from the opportunity of acquiring a prestigious property in the continent’s premier wine valley, it presents rare development prospects and comes with a wonderful history that dates to the founding of wine-making in South Africa. The first owner, Pierre Rousseau was one of the first French Huguenots to arrive in the country in 1688. He acquired the land in 1694 and hailed from the province of Orleanais in France, hence the name of the farm. He is famed for being one of the first winemakers of the Cape.

The property is one of the largest in the area and comprises three title deeds and amount to almost 182ha in land. The old farm portion covers about 81ha and the remaining two, about 51ha and 50ha respectively. The location is prime and the views of the surrounding mountains quite extraordinary, he says. The old buildings are beautifully preserved and are all on the old farm portion – these include the original Cape Dutch manor house (built in 1777) and a second house and shed, built in 1747 and 1783 respectively.

For the last two consecutive years, the local wine industry has reported record export levels. Wines of South Africa (Wosa) recently announced that export volumes for the 2013-year topped the 2012 record by 26%. With the South African wine industry experiencing exceptional export growth despite a still lacklustre global and local economy, and the increased visitor numbers to the Cape, including the winelands over the summer, makes this the ideal time for buyers and investors to start looking at wine farms again.

Already we have seen in the last few months that the Cape’s wine farms are attracting not only local buyers, but also foreign investors, says the agent. In mid-2013, Perfect China (a 51% shareholding in Perfect Wines of South Africa) acquired the Val de Vie cellar and 25ha wine farm. Late last year, Indian billionaire, Analjit Singh also confirmed his acquisition of Dieu Donné, Von Ortloff and Klein Dassenberg for about R80m. Singh is also developing a luxury guesthouse and spa on his property. The Cape boasts a number of acclaimed wine regions with Stellenbosch and Franschhoek ranking as the most prestigious, says Pretorius. The latter is regarded as one of the most scenic valleys in the world and with its celebrity chefs, diverse gourmet offerings and world-class wineries such as L’Ormarins, Haute Cabriere, Boschendal, La Motte, Babylonstoren and Grande Provence attracts thousands of local and international visitors annually. That the property (L’Arc d’Orleans) finds itself in the company of these illustrious estates is an added incentive for buyers and investors, he says.

The commercial operation of the property includes wine and citrus production as well as sheep-farming and there are excellent buildings on the various portions – all of which offer excellent development opportunity. One of the most immediate, would be to develop a winery and wine label as well as hospitality and tourism facilities, he adds.

The property comes with irrigation facilities and excellent water sources that include boreholes, dams and water rights from the Wemmershoek Dam. About 14ha is under vine with grape varieties that include Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Ruby Cabernet; the produce of which is supplied to Simonsvlei International in Paarl. The citrus operation covers about 5ha. A further 3ha is planted with olive trees and 44ha with grazing; all under irrigation.


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