26 Nov Shepherd’s cottage story
The Shepherd’s Cottage range is the latest addition to our family of wines, but the inspiration behind it is the oldest story on our land.
The Shepherd’s Cottage is an actual, bona fide, cottage on our farm – with the impressive status as the estate’s oldest structure. As the name suggests, it began its humble existence as a home for a shepherd – when sheep grazed this land back in the late 1700s.
But it was 200 years later, in 1972, that the charming little whitewashed house was renovated to take on the role it was always meant for – a cosy family home furnished with traditions both old and new. David Snr, the second generation winemaker in charge at the time, made some adjustments to convert it into a snug, two-roomed cottage – perfect as a starter house for a young family.
Janet and Pieter (Cheese) Hundersmarck were happy to claim first residency and inaugurate an Overgaauw custom that would be continued by a long line of Van Velden newlyweds. The rough rule was that you could live at Shepherd’s Cottage for a minimum of two years, or until the next couple got married and kicked you out (gently, of course). David’s son Braam and his wife Annelie were next in line, followed by Isabeau and Frik, Marguerite and Erik, Suzanne and Johann, Janet and Charl, present-day winemaker David and his wife Nicole, and today, Niel and Rina. And so continues a tradition of new beginnings, family celebrations, pregnancy announcements, many toasts, great wine, Bruce Springsteen records and legendary parties – all under one zinc roof.
In recent years, a roof and extra stoep section were added, but otherwise the beautiful home you see today is still the original structure – right up to the 250-year-old clay and bamboo ceiling. Over the many seasons, each young couple has come to know the unique and enduring character of the cottage: Its cool comfort in summer, the smokey fireplace of the freezing cold winter, the terrifying first cracks of acorns falling on the roof in the middle of an autumn night, the panicked cry of guinea-fowls outside, the spectacular view of one of many suns or moons that have risen over the age-old Stellenbosch mountains.
And then there’s also the scent – the smell of grape skins during the summer harvest, which moves silently indoors, mingling with the dust of old walls and new people, to make itself at home. It’s really no wonder then, that Shepherd’s Cottage – this intersection of memory, land and family – became the name of our new wine range. When we gathered to brainstorm a name, it featured on each person’s list of suggestions – a testament to the cottage’s special significance to each family member.
We like to think that these scents, sounds, celebrations and enduring traditions are somehow embodied in this wine range. In fact, if you enjoy a glass while taking in the magical view of the Stellenbosch mountains, you’re pretty much guaranteed to hear the faint strains of “Dancing in the Dark”.