Muratie Wine Estate is one of the oldest farms in South Africa, rich in history and heritage with a family history dating back to the 1600s. On arrival at Muratie, one of the first things you come across is a white gabled memorial celebrating all the previous owners through the decades.
Guarded over by magnificent ancient oak trees, the passion for preserving the estate’s rich, centuries-old heritage is captured in every nook and cranny of this family farm, every corner exuding a sense of time gone by. Beautiful old Cape Dutch buildings, crumbling statues, antique wine-making equipment, the enchanting tasting room with cobwebs hugging the tartaric textured walls, stained glass windows and art, and memoirs and belongings of previous owners are all set in a secret garden, a lush green haven of peace and tranquillity.
Passionate guardians of Muratie’s prized heritage, the Melck family – Annatjie Melck, her sons, Rijk and Anton, and daughters Annelise and Charla – is committed to preserving the essence of a bygone era – upholding the age-old traditions of the farm, safeguarding the historic buildings, relics and memoirs, and acknowledging all those who came before.
Muratie Wine Estate Wines of Heritage
Even the Muratie wines reflect a tangible sense of time suspended, with the estate’s wines named after these intriguing personalities from the past who moulded Muratie as we know it today, each wine with its own charming story described on the back label. Says Rijk Melck, “When you sip on our wines you are tasting history for yourself.”
Muratie’s flagship white and red blends are named Laurens Campher and Ansela van der Caab, honouring the first owner of Muratie and the remarkable love affair between him and the slave girl Ansela who eventually became his wife. The oak tree she planted to bless their marriage still stands on Muratie, as does a small white house, their first home, built for them by Laurens, which today houses the MOK Gallery. Laurens Campher is a judiciously oaked unique white blend combining predominantly Chenin Blanc, with Sauvignon Blanc, Verdelho and Viognier. Ansela van de Caab, is their Bordeaux-style red blend, which has been honoured with a 5-star rating in the 2021 Platter’s SA Wine Guide – Ansela’s third Platter’s 5-star rating to date.
The Muratie Pinot Noir honours George Paul Canitz, a famous artist and charismatic bon vivant who planted Pinot Noir at Muratie in 1927 and became the very first Pinot producer in South Africa. Most of the art in the Muratie cellar was painted by George Canitz. His art studio, which he built with bricks made on the farm, still stands today, on a terrace next to the tasting centre, and his ‘Kneipzimmer’ at Muratie bears testament to the merry parties that took place regularly in this quaint drinking den. It was here that Canitz’s many guests were invited to share his favourite Muratie wines and cover the roof and walls with paintings and writings.
Muratie honoured Martin Melck, their legendary forefather who established Muratie’s Melck legacy in the 1700s, by naming both their Cabernet Sauvignons after him.
Both of Muratie’s Shiraz wines pay tribute to the family’s late father Ronne Melck, a larger-than-life personality with an incredibly finely tuned palate and boundless passion for wine. He was a South African wine industry legend and a seventh-generation direct descendant of Martin Melck, who turned a 30-year-long dream into reality when he brought Muratie back into the Melck fold in 1987.
The Muratie Merlot is named after George Canitz’s fiercely independent daughter, Alberta Annemarie, who, upon her father’s death in 1959, became one of the first female wine farm owners in the country. She ran the farm on her own until she sold Muratie to Ronnie in 1987. She fiercely protected Muratie’s legacy, keeping the farm unchanged, and my Ronnie agreed to do the same.
The Lady Alice Rosé Cap Classique celebrates Lady Alice Stanford, who, as the wife of a senator who bought Muratie in 1909, was a high society hostess of note adept at turning every event into a dance party.
The popular Cape Vintage pays homage to the estate’s legendary Ben Prins, winemaker at Muratie from 1957 until 1987. Affectionately known as Barefoot Ben, his trademark was his bare feet.
Muratie’s fortified dessert wine made from Hanepoot grapes (Muscat d’Alexandrie) is called Amber Forever. During the 1940s, when Muratie was owned by George Paul Canitz, the novel Forever Amber was published by Kathleen Winsor. Set in seventeenth-century England, it told the story of the orphan Amber St Clare, who rose through the ranks of British society by sleeping with increasingly influential men. Canitz insisted that his fortified sweet wine was named after this fictitious character, but the truth is that the renowned painter and worshipper of wine, women and song had an Amber of his own. She was his model and muse and her picture hangs in the Muratie cellar to this day. ‘To happy days and glorious nights, Forever Amber,’ was his famous toast.
The Muratie Chardonnay was renamed Isabella in recognition of Rijk’s eldest daughter. They have subsequently also released an Isabella Chardonnay Family Reserve, a limited release produced from exceptional fruit.”
Visit the Muratie website for a full list of all the Muratie wines, all of which can be purchased at the estate, online at https://www.muratie.co.za/wine/buy-wine/ and nationally at leading wine retailers.
In the cellar
The revival and preservation of heritage also extend to the way Muratie produce its wines, with respect for age-old traditions in the vineyards and the 200-year-old gabled cellar. Grapes are still hand-picked and hand-sorted to select only the best. The Muratie wines are made as naturally and traditionally as possible, with natural ferment and gentle pressing.
Blending the best of traditional and modern methods, they employ a combination of classic open fermenters and stainless-steel tanks in the fermentation process. After fermentation, the wine is matured in French oak barrels until the winemaking team discerns that it has reached its optimum moment to go-to bottle. Under the creative hands of Rijk and winemaker Hattingh de Villiers, Muratie has become a serious and respected player on the world wine stage, producing a range of classic highly acclaimed wines.
Food at Muratie
When Ronnie and Annatjie Melck moved into the Muratie Manor House, they infused new life into the old homestead, establishing their culture of food and wine. There was hardly ever an empty seat at their immense dining room table. There would always be music, the wine would flow, the kitchen would be a hive of activity, and the aroma of food would infuse the cheerful ambience.
Annatjie Melck, chatelaine of Muratie and a well-known Stellenbosch personality, is a true food person. Determined to uphold the food culture of Stellenbosch and the Winelands, she, together with like-minded friends, founded the famous Stellenbosch Wine and Food Festival, and the iconic landmark, Oom Samie se Winkel, in Dorp Street. She also authored the highly acclaimed ‘Koljander’ where she showcases over 100 recipes interwoven with her life’s journey from the plains of the Great Karoo to Muratie.
Muratie’s popular Farm Kitchen Restaurant embodies the Melck’s food and wine culture. Rijk’s wife, Kim, an accomplished cook, working closely with her mother-in-law Annatjie, oversees the preparation of this authentic farm lunch, using fresh ingredients from Muratie’s organic vegetable garden as well as speciality foods. Muratie also has a wonderful range of their very own homemade goodies available at the tasting room: jams, marmalades, bee-friendly honey, fudge, toffee, nougat, peanut butter cookies and more.
What’s on offer at Muratie Wine Estate?
The story of Muratie Wine Estate is reason enough to pay a visit to this historic farm, but there’s also an abundance of events and activities at the estate that keep visitors returning.
- Wine tasting and wine and chocolate pairings in the enchanting tasting room
- Authentic farm breakfasts and lunches at the Muratie Farm Kitchen
- Wine, food and music festivals for the whole family
- Amazing trails/events for mountain biking, trail running and hiking including a brand-new trail centre
- The brand new 9 Orphans Gin Distillery is owned by a brother and sister team who distil and package their gins at Muratie: The Eikesap Gin is made from Muratie’s acorns and the Turksvy Gin from prickly pears also hand-harvested at Muratie.
- Exhibitions of contemporary art and culture at the MOK Gallery located in Ansela van de Caab’s house, dating back to 1685
- Accommodation in George Paul Canitz’s original art studio
- Event curation in an exquisite marquee with panoramic views, or on Muratie’s verdant terraces beneath the ancient oak trees. The Muratie Canvas offers a stylish blank slate to create the event of a lifetime.
Contact or visit Muratie:
Knorhoek Road, Stellenbosch
Tel: 021 865 2330