The Jonker family has lived on Weltevrede since 1912. The estate was founded by Klaas Jonker, whose pioneering soul led him to plant the first vines in the area. In the 1930’s Weltevrede was inherited by his son, Japie Jonker, who in 1933 began wine farming on Weltevrede. Japie expanded the winery of Weltevrede to accommodate the growing grape production.
The third generation, Lourens Jonker, completed his degree in viniculture and undertook extensive study tours of the wine lands of Europe and California in 1962 before settling down to farm on Weltevrede. After the death of his father in 1969, Lourens took over the 65ha farm. He subsequently purchased neighbouring farms Muscadel (1969), River’s Edge (1981) and Sonop (1999). Today all the farms are consolidated as a 160 hectare estate.
Lourens is one of the pioneering figures of the South African wine industry establishing a legacy as chairman of the KWV and serving on several industry bodies. He also served on boards of companies outside the wine industry, like ABSA and Naspers. He received the National Farmer of the Year Award for South Africa from the Agricultural Writer’s association of South Africa in 1996. Lourens stepped back recently to leave the estate in the hands of his son, Philip. He now enjoys a more relaxed lifestyle.
Philip Jonker is the fourth generation family winemaker of Weltevrede. He joined his father in 1997 after finishing his B.Sc. Agric degree at the University of Stellenbosch, majoring in Viticulture and Oenology. He and his wife, Lindelize, spent most of 1997 abroad, studying and working during the harvest season at Clos du Val Winery in the Napa Valley, California, and later at Chateau la Domenique, St Emilion, Bordeaux.
Philip is a Chardonnay specialist and his Chardonnays have been awarded by Chardonnay du Monde, Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, International Wine Challenge, International Wine and Spirit Challenge amongst others. He produces three terroir specific Chardonnays as well as four Methode Cap Classiques (Champagne method bottle fermented sparkling wine) all containing Chardonnay to some extent. His Blanc de Blancs Cap Classique (100% Chardonnay) has been the overall winner of the WINE magazine/ Amorim Cork Cap Classique Challenge in 2003 and the non-vintage Cap Classique (Entheos) the winner of the Best Non-Vintage category for the same competition in 2009. This wine was also chosen shortly afterwards to be served to South African Airways Premium Class passengers during the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
The Jonker family are involved in all facets of the estate with Annamarie (Lourens’s wife) and Lindelize (Philip’s wife) both involved with the art and literary interests of Weltevrede. They are an inspiration behind every goal achieved at Weltevrede.
Today Weltevrede still has the old vines originally planted by the founder of this estate. Five generations of Jonkers have tasted the fruit of these same vines, a symbol of a blessed family history deeply rooted in the foundations of Weltevrede.
The most Biodiverse Place on Earth
The Western Cape in South Africa is the most biodiverse place on earth. The Western Cape hosts more plant species than the whole northern hemisphere of planet earth. Fauna and flora rarely spotted in other places thrive at Weltevrede. The full extent of the biodiversity is not documented yet, but it is known to include an abundance of aromatic herbs and flowering gems. Our ancestors had a very descriptive way to name these plants, with names like “pregnant onion”, “baboon’s toes”, “hairy nipples”, “voëltjie-kan-nie-sit-nie” (little bird cannot sit), the latter obviously being an uncomfortable thorn bush. The more than 150 hectares of unspoilt nature hosts rare dwarf succulents living amongst the cracks of the shale rocks.
A sense of Place
It is the love for our soil that opened our eyes to the biodiversity around us. The tapestry of soils resulted in a diversity of plant life around us. Similarly this diversity of soils offer diverse terroir with the potential of expressing individualistic wines. During his first years of winemaking at Weltevrede, Philip Jonker made it his mission to make wines that are world class and ambassadors of excellence for the Robertson Valley and South Africa. Weltevrede started winning several awards at international competitions. Today the vision is for the wines of Weltevrede is to be a pure expression of the terroir in which it is rooted.
“Our wines should have personality dictated by the soil. It should have a sense of place,” says Philip.
The Feel for the Soil
Weltevrede values the family experience, the intimate sharing of the feel for the soil almost as much as the soil itself. This anchor of Weltevrede, rooted in time itself, is the foundation of each vine, each flavourful grape berry and each resulting wine. Although close in proximity to one another the soils of the vineyards of Weltevrede are dramatically different, with abrupt transitions from one to the next. There are seventy-two unique vineyards on Weltevrede, some smaller than half a hectare. To generalise they can be categorised in three distinctly different soil types or terroir, namely broken shale rock, rust coloured limestone and alluvial soil.