Just a short drive from bustling Paarl, Wellington has the aura of a country town, mainly due to its primary industry of farming; wine and table grapes form the main crops with deciduous fruit. As an adjunct to wine, there’s a major brandy distiller on the edge of town.

The town and its surrounding wine farms enjoy the dramatic backdrop of the Groenberg, Hawequa and Limietberg mountains; indigenous vegetation, fruit orchards, olive groves and vineyards cover the lower slopes. Hiking, horse trails and wine walks are popular activities.  It sounds a wonderful area in which to live but let’s hear what it’s like from a long-time inhabitant.

Corlea Fourie, Cellarmaster at Bosman Family Vineyards, got to know Wellington as a child, when her much older sister married a Wellington farmer. ‘Wellington is not a place of mildness,’ she insists. ‘It boasts sunshine and warmth in abundance. It has fantastic cold, long winters; autumn and spring showing off champagne sunsets like no other, with our mountains framing a properly beautiful town. It is small but close enough to everything one would need; you will also learn that everything you need is here to be discovered too.  It has a big-hearted community, invested in education and the arts and with a hospitality that ensures visitors return to see more.’

Eight generations of the Bosman family have farmed in the Bovlei area of Wellington; wine was produced until 1957, when their vine nursery took precedence. It took 50 years and an upgrade to the 270 year old cellar for wine to again playing a prominent role (part of the old cellar is today’s tasting room); Corlea has guided the wine since that first, 2007 vintage. One of the more unusual varieties in the range is the Sicilian grape, Nero d’Avola, which CEO, Petrus Bosman was responsible for importing. The Bosman example is one of only two in South Africa.

As a major employer of members of the local community, 260 are permanently employed, the Bosman family confirmed their social responsibility when, in 2009, the year they gained Fairtrade accreditation, they handed a 26% stake in the business to these workers. The Adama Workers Trust creates and implements projects that will build a sustainable future for the community and environment. A small percentage of each bottle of the Bosman wines sold goes to the Trust to help fund these projects.
Three generations of Sonnenberg have lived on Diemersfontein, a 183 ha farm in the Wellington/Paarl Valley, lying in the shadow of the Hawequa mountains and with panoramic views of nearby ranges. Vines were originally planted in the 1970s by Richard Sonnenberg, father of current owner, David Sonnenberg.  When David and his wife, Sue returned to South Africa, they built a cellar, producing the first vintage of Diemersfontein Estate Wines in 2001. 

The winery sprang into the spotlight with their first pinotages, one classically- styled under the Carpe Diem label and made by Bertus Fourie. These walked off with top awards on two major shows. Since 2003, Francois Roode has been in charge of the cellar. 

True to their community spirit, the Sonnenbergs wanted to help uplift Diemersfontein staff by giving a helping hand rather than handouts. Thokozani (Zulu for a celebration) an empowerment company, founded in 2007, was based on a shareholding model with previous HR manager, Denise Stubbs as MD. She and the workers forum hold an 80% shareholding in the company, Diemersfontein retaining the balance. Apart from Thokozani Wines, made by the Diemersfontein team in their cellar, the company also encompasses conferencing, hospitality and property interests. Success has also followed Thokozani Wines; the maiden cabernet franc 2019 won Trophy for Best Cabernet Franc, Discovery of The Show and Overall Red Wine on the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show.

Wine doing very well and a lot of good in Wellington. 

Angela Lloyd