In 1937, Hennie Retief senior bought the farm called Goudmyn, an Afrikaans word for gold mine, in the Robertson Valley, South Africa. Hennie subdivided the farm (A, B, C, etc.) to give each of his 9 children a piece of the original farm. Hennie Retief junior received part F of Goudmyn. In 1939, Hennie jr. married Jean van Zyl, a teacher from nearby Ashton. Jean was quite superstitious and believed that the "F" stood for "fools and failures", so she persuaded Hennie to rename the farm Van Loveren in memory of her ancestor Christiena Van Loveren, who came to South Africa in 1699.
Christiena Van Loveren and her husband Willem Van Zyl started the Van Zyl line in South Africa. With her, Christiena brought her beautiful Philippine mahogany bridal chest. This chest was passed down from generation to generation and eventually Jean bought it from her aunt for 45 pounds. This chest was also one of the reasons why Jean wanted to rename the Van Loveren farm. Today, this beautiful chest or kist is proudly displayed in the Van Loveren tasting room.
The story of the third generation of the Retief family begins in the 1990s. Nico’s sons, Bussell and Hennie; and Wynand’s sons, Phillip and Neil, joined the family farm after completing their education. In 2000, the four cousins launched the Four Cousins wine line, cementing their role in Van Loveren’s success in becoming South Africa’s first family-owned winery. In 2004, Van Loveren was the first South African winery and the first in the Robertson Valley to successfully enter into a Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) land reform partnership with 116 of their employees and retirees. For 3 generations, the Retief family has been actively involved and supportive of the local community, proud to have 3rd generation employees working alongside them to ensure that Van Loveren remains South Africa’s premier family winery.
Vines are said to do best where they must fight for survival. Hostile, rocky and unforgiving are the terroirs of Robertson Valley. The soil is so impervious that it takes hard work and strong hands to plant the vines, erect the trellis poles, and put organic matter back into the soil. It is fortunate to have many soil types in this valley: some areas are very rocky, consisting of about 70% quartz rock; other areas are rich in limestone, with soils similar to those of Burgundy and Sancerre, while a sandy, clay soil is found near the banks of the Breede River. By highlighting these different soils, complex wines can be made from vineyards specific to each terroir. In keeping with the Retief philosophy, each vineyard is planted on soil that offers the ideal conditions for the variety and style of wine desired.
95% of South Africa’s wines are produced in the region known as the Cape Floral Kingdom, one of the world’s richest centres of terrestrial biodiversity, home to over 10,000 plant species. That’s more than all the wildlife habitat in the Northern Hemisphere! The Cape Floral Kingdom is one of the 25 recognized biodiversity hotspots, with 70% of the plants found here and nowhere else on earth. Conservation is therefore very important, and Van Loveren is doing its part to protect it for future generations.