Muriate, the historic estate established in 1685 in the beautiful Knorhoek Valley north of Stellenbosch, is one of the oldest farms in South Africa. With this age comes a remarkable legacy passed on by the many extraordinary characters from the farm’s colourful past. Thanks to the Melck family’s passionate guardianship, this memorable legacy lives on at Muratie, where ‘Every Day is Heritage Day’.
One of the Most Authentic Treasures of the Cape Winelands
A visit to Muratie reveals a piece of history where time has largely stood still, where the unique old-world ambience is almost tangible. Magnificent ancient oak trees guarding over the estate, and a white gabled memorial celebrating all the previous owners through the decades, greet you on arrival and set the scene for an enchanting experience.
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. Historic buildings, crumbling statues, ancient wine-making equipment, the rickety cob-webbed tasting room, age-old stained-glass windows, original tartaric-encrusted fermentation tanks, antique carpets and old-world furniture; original art, relics, artefacts and memorabilia all adorn a unique and magical environment honouring a bygone era.
At Muratie Every Wine Tells a Story
This revival and preservation of heritage extends to the Muratie wines as well, with commemorative names for the range of wines and the respect for age-old traditions in the vineyards and the 200-year-old gabled cellar. “At Muratie every wine tells a story. All our wines are named after the legendary personalities from the past who moulded Muratie as we know it today, each wine with its own captivating story celebrated on the back label., “When you sip on our wines you are tasting history for yourself,” says Rijk Melck.
- “Our 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 Ansela, a slave girl at the castle in Cape Town. He frequently walked the 64 kilometres to Cape Town and back, a three-day trip, to see his beloved Ansela. This courtship at the Castle continued for 14 years during which time Ansela and Laurens had three children. Eventually Ansela was emancipated in 1699, whereupon she and Laurens married and, with their children, settled on the farm. They planted the first vineyards at Muratie and an oak tree, to bless their marriage, which still stands on Muratie, as does a small white house, their first home, which today houses the MOK Gallery. Our Laurens Campher is a judiciously oaked unique white blend combining predominantly Chenin Blanc, with Sauvignon Blanc, Verdehlo and Viognier. Our Ansela van de Caab, our Bordeaux-style red blend, has been honoured with three 5-star ratings in the Platter’s SA Wine Guide.
- In 1926 a famous German artist George Paul Canitz was out horseback riding with his daughter Alberta Annemarie when they, quite by chance, happened upon an old, neglected manor house. They both fell passionately in love with the charm of the place and energetically set about restoring the homestead and farm which had sadly fallen into disrepair. George Paul Canitz Pinot Noir honours the charismatic bon vivant who planted Pinot Noir at Muratie in 1927, becoming 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.
- We honoured Martin Melck, our legendary forefather, one of the Cape’s greatest landowners and most influential stock-and wine-farmers, who established Muratie’s Melck legacy in the 1700’s, by naming both our Cabernet Sauvignons after him: Martin Melck Cabernet Sauvignon and Martin Melck Cabernet Sauvignon Family Reserve.
Martin’s daughter, Anna Catharina (who had married a Jan David Beyers), inherited the farm in 1781, and it remained in the Melck-Beyers family for well over a century, during which time the Muratie manor house was built.
- Both of our Shiraz wines, Ronne Melck Shiraz and Ronnie Melck Shiraz Family Reserve, pay tribute to my late father, 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. Tragically my father’s untimely passing in September 1995 came too soon for him to fulfil his vision for Muratie.
- Our Alberta Annemarie Merlot is named after George Canitz’s fiercely independent daughter, fondly known as Annemie, who, upon her father’s death in 1959, becoming one of the first female wine farm owners in the country. She rode well into her 80s, eventually only stopping, she insisted, ‘because the horse is too old’. She ran the farm on her own until she sold Muratie to my father Ronnie in 1987. She fiercely protected Muratie’s legacy, keeping the farm unchanged, and my dad agreed to do the same.
- Our 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.
- Our popular Ben Prins Cape Vintage pays homage to the Muratie’s legendary winemaker between 1957 and 1987. Affectionately known as Barefoot Ben, his trademark was his bare feet.
- Our seductive 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.
- Our Chardonnay was renamed Isabella in recognition of our eldest daughter. We 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.
Upholding a Culture of Food and Wine
Annatjie Melck, chatelaine of Muratie, a well-known Stellenbosch personality and a highly acclaimed foodie, together with her daughter-in-law Kim Melck, an accomplished cook, have ensured that Muratie’s food and wine tradition is embodied in Muratie’s popular Farm Kitchen Restaurant where all the lunch dishes have suggested wine pairings.
A Multitude Of Lifestyle Offerings For Everyone
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. In addition to wine tasting and the Farm Kitchen, Muratie offers wine and chocolate pairings, delicious hmemade goodies, wine, food and music festivals for the whole family, amazing trails for mountain biking, hiking and trail running, exhibitions of contemporary culture at the MOK Gallery, accommodation in George Paul Canitz’s original art studio and event curation in an exquisite marquee or on their verdant terrace beneath the ancient oak trees.