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The concept of the Ernie Els Wine was born out of friendship between Ernie Els and Jean Engelbrecht back in 1999. The pair, driven by a mutual passion for South African red wine, and combining Jean’s knowledge of the world wine markets with Ernie’s impeccable worldwide acclaim and reputation.
The intention from the start was to focus on delivering a quality product that could hold its own in the company of the world’s finest wine. Naturally the plan was to start on a small scale, ensuring the packaging and presentation, marketing and distribution, were of a standard that was in-line with their vision for a premium product.
And what better place to start the venture than at Jean’s family Wine Estate, Rust en Vrede, in Stellenbosch? Here Jean, Ernie and winemaker, Louis Strydom worked through various styles and concepts in the pursuit of a winning formula for a premium South African wine. A bold and majestic style of red wine, using all five Bordeaux varietals, was chosen. The marketing synergy between Ernie’s “classic” golf swing and making the classic Bordeaux blend were obvious.
Both Jean and Ernie knew that if the foundations for the brand were sufficiently laid, eventually a home would have to be found for the brand. Jean undertook this search with a meticulous eye for detail, trying to find the right combination for this exciting project.
In the end, the site was chosen not more than a stone’s-throw from where the brand was conceived. A beautiful 72 Ha farm on the slopes of the Helderberg mountain, which was even more of a natural choice, as these vineyards had produced grapes used in the previous vintages of the Ernie Els Blend. The property was acquired, and the wheels were set in motion to create one of the most exciting venues in the South African Wine Industry.
A dream, shared by these two dynamic individuals, was made reality on Wednesday 15th December 2004, with the opening of the Ernie Els Winery.
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