Tom Breytenbach’s background is property development while his wife Hayley’s is financial services. Intent on a lifestyle change, they purchased property in Stellenbosch’s Devon Valley ward in 2009 and opened Brenaissance Wine and Stud Estate to the public at the end of last year
The Breytenbachs seem to bring plenty of business nous to bear. “Why do so many farmers not succeed? Because they don’t sufficiently diversify their businesses,” says Breytenbach. In addition to some 30ha of vineyard on the 116ha property, the couple also farm plums for export and have started to breed Boran cattle. There’s also a 200-person chapel, a 250-person function centre, accommodation for 18 people and Café Blanc de Noir serving pizza with your choice of either wine or Stellenbrau beer.
Is this new operation going to succeed? “One Boran cow produces 80 eggs over 12 months, an egg selling for between R10 000 and R15 000. She takes up 0.5ha of land and generates a total of R1 million annually. I’d need 40ha of vineyard to make the same amount of money.”
As for wine, Breytenbach is not about to over-capitalise, saying “I’ll never having a cellar”. There are seven wines in the range, various different winemakers used depending on particular strengths. Longridge’s Jasper Raats mades the Lady H Sauvignon Blanc 2011 and Knight of White Chardonnay 2010, Charl Coetzee when at Clos Malverne the Jack of Diamonds Shiraz 2009, Billy Marklew of Marklew Family Wines the Queen of Hearts Merlot, Marklew and Eikendal’s Nico Grobler were involved in the Bordeaux-style red blend Full House 2010 and Grobler responsible for the King of Clubs Cabernet Sauvignon 2009.
Stand out wines for me are:
Knight of White Chardonnay: 16/20
10 months in French oak, 10% new. Citrus and attractive vanilla on the nose. Good fruit concentration plus some leesy complexity and a hint of oak spice. Creamy texture nicely offset by bright acidity.
King of Clubs Cabernet Sauvignon 2009: 16.5/20
18 months in French oak, 33% new. Cassis on the nose and palate. Full but balanced, fresh acidity good tannic grip. Classically styled with a long, dry finish.