Known for: First coffee pinotage, Pinotage on Tap Festivals
Central to the working wine estate, is the original family manor house, better known as the ‘Groot Huis’. The magnificent gardens were designed by Davids mother, Cecilia Sonnenberg and are reminiscent of an era when gracious living and tranquility were the order of the day. Displaying an abundance of roses and azaleas and set amongst beautiful old trees, this venue has become much sought after for weddings and other special occasions.
Max Sonnenberg, together with his son Richard, were the co-founders of Woolworths South Africa and also members of Parliament during the Jan Smuts Government. He and his family used Diemersfontein as a country retreat and during the war years, Italian prisoners of war were housed in the farm cottages.
During the 1950s, Richard took over from his father and became more involved in the farming operations. His wife Cecilia, a well-known Cape Town actress and producer, was the co-founder of Maynardville Open Air Theatre – famous for its Shakespearian productions.
The family’s association and passion for the arts started with the delightful strains of opera singing that would drift up from the cottages housing the Italian prisoners. (Italians sure love to sing!) This tradition of being patrons and contributors to the arts has continued over the years, as the present owners, David and Sue Sonnenberg continue to be involved. Sue herself, an artist and chorister, understands the importance of encouraging and sponsoring local artists, and providing them the support they need to pursue their talents.
Richard Sonnenberg planted the first vineyards in the 1970s and in 2000 David built a cellar and started producing estate wines. Vineyard plantings include: Shiraz, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and also the “lesser known” varietals Viognier, Barbera, Roobernet and Mourvedre. Diemersfonteins’ maiden vintage (2001) won the Paul Sauer Trophy for a wooded Pinotage at the SA Young Wine Show, and today the Diemersfontein brand continues to enjoy the success in attaining numerous wine awards.
Francois started working at Diemersfontein Wine Estate mid 2003 as cellar assistant and was appointed as winemaker in 2006 overseeing the production of Diemersfontein’s Original Coffee and Chocolate Pinotage.