Wednesday, January 7

South African Wine a French Protestant Heritage

Have you ever tasted South African wine? When you live in France, wine is part of what French call " l'art de vivre" (the art of life) Even m self a simple peruvian after 13 years in France I have learned a lot about wine culture. Saddly, now I have a hard time drinking wine from kits or even drinking my own country's wine (Peruvian wine).I guess France has spolied me in terms of taste for wine.

For French standards only very few countries have wines that can match French quality.

They know that Californian, Spanish and Chilinian wines are French descendants wine ( French inmigrants) but how South African wine have become that good?

Indded very few people know that South African wine is a French protestant heritage.

Here is an article of the Huguenot Society of South Africa... enjoy it

"The Huguenots who arrived at the Cape of Good Hope at the end of the 17th century, consisted
of only a fraction of the large-scale Protestant flight from France after the revocation of the Edict on Nantes in 1685. Nevertheless their numbers were large enough to have a considerable influence and leave a lasting impression on the young settlement at the Cape. As early as 1671 the first Huguenot refugee, Francois Villion (later Viljoen), arrived at the Cape. In 1686 the brothers Guillaume and Francois du Toit arrived. After the main stream of Huguenots arrived during 1688 – 1689, they comprised approximately one sixth of the free burgher population, after which individual arrivals continued sporadically until the termination of the state subsidised emigration in 1707.

A complete surnames list (original spellings) of Huguenots who emigrated to the Cape and have descendants in South Africa, appears in the column at left. Not all of these surnames exist in South Africa today, since a number of Huguenot stamouers only propagated in the female lines.

The potential emigrants from Europe were allowed to take only the minimum amount of necessary luggage along. After their arrival at the Cape, they were expected to make a living from agriculture, business or by practicing a trade. If they decided to farm, they were allotted free farms, and implements, seed and animal stock would be provided, the cost of which had to be later reimbursed to the Dutch East India Company in terms of produce or any other goods.

The Dutch East India Company encouraged the Huguenots to emigrate to the Cape because they shared the same religious beliefs, and also due to the fact that most of them were highly trained craftsmen or experienced farmers, specifically in viticulture and oenology (the growing of grapes and making of wine, brandy and vinegar). They, as well as their descendants, proved that they were hard working and industrious, and their efforts led to a marked increase in the improvement of quality Cape wines. A number of wine estates have French names to this day, as a reminder of their important contribution to this industry in the Western Cape. The number of vine plants increased from 100 in 1655 (three years after the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck at the Cape) to 1,5 million in 1700.

When John Ovington visited the Cape in 1693, he wrote:

“Their vineyards have been established over an area of more than seventy five English miles, yet they still have their eyes on large pieces of virgin soil before them. In this district they farm with livestock, plant maize, establish vineyards and improve everything conscientiously for the greatest benefit .... Their vineyards, which they have multiplied to a large variety of cultivars, can now also provide the passing ships…”
A number of Huguenots were listed as experienced "vineyard pruners". The De Villiers brothers in particular arrived at the Cape with a reputation for viticulture and oenology. Through the years the De Villiers brothers planted more than 40 000 vines at the Cape. They moved from the original farm allocated to them (which they named La Rochelle) to finally settle on individual allottments near Franschhoek with the names Bourgogne, Champagne and La Brie.

The legacy of the Huguenots was however far reaching. Today thousands of their proud descendants carry with dignity surnames of which the spelling is unchanged from the original, such as De Villiers, Malan, Du Toit, Du Plessis, Du Preez and Malherbe; the spelling of others were localised, such as Viljoen, Cronjé, Pienaar, Retief and Senekal. Certain first names which the Huguenots brought with them are poplular amongst their descendants, especially male christian names such as Francois, Pierre, Etienne, Jacques and Louis. Research has shown that the contribution of the Huguenot genes to the Afrikaner people amounts to some 24%. Their descendants are proud of ancestors who sacrificed a great deal - even their country of birth - and were willing to suffer personally for their religious convictions.

The Huguenots are characterised by their intrinsic pride, diligence and honesty. Although they strove to maintain their own identify at first, they soon intermarried with the other colonists to fully become just South Africans. Within two generations even their home language, French, largely disappeared"

more here:

all copyrights belongs to Huguenot Society of South Africa

this is only a partial copy and paste

1 comment: