New ‘bubbly wine region’ a springboard for Plettenberg Bay

Acclaimed as a global golfing mecca, the scenic Garden Route has in recent years seen Plettenberg Bay becoming renowned for its polo, with no less than 10 polo fields of international standard and more in the pipeline. Now the Garden Route – and ‘Plett’, is set to further boost the global tourism status of the region as the Sparkling Wine Route of South Africa.

View of the main house, across the deck and swimming pool at Bramon Wine Estate
Host to some five million visitors per annum, the Garden Route is rapidly emerging as a unique and well-respected Wine of Origin region thanks to pioneering Plettenberg Bay, says Ling Dobson, Pam Golding Properties area principal in Plett and Knysna.
Pam Golding Properties (PGP) has just concluded the sale of the boutique Luka Wine Farm near Plettenberg Bay for close to the asking price of R7.25 million. Set on seven hectares, the estate’s Sauvignon Blanc received a Silver International Michelangelo Award in 2012 and the Double Gold Vitis Vinifera Award 2013 South Africa. Now PGP has the sole mandate to market the ground-breaking Bramon Wine Estate in Plett, which is the first producing wine farm in the area so far east of the Western Cape, with the first vines planted in 2000.

View across the vineyards at Bramon Wine Estate
Says Dobson: “Bramon Wine Estate has been the pioneer and key driver of our innovative Wine & Bubbly Route, further enhancing the unique character of the region and providing a boost for tourism as well as impetus for job creation and other economic development opportunities. With a thriving restaurant and award-winning boutique concept wines, it is well placed to support further growth in the burgeoning wine industry in the area as Bramon Wine Cellar acts as the central production facility for the region.
“Currently, there are some 18 new wine farms in development (50ha under vine), seven of which have their wines vinified in Bramon Cellar, with others coming on line and many more in the planning phase. These growers have the option to sell their output to the cellar, with the grapes processed into Bramon Methode Cap Classique and still wines, or alternatively have their harvests processed and bottled under their own label. Plett Tourism has assisted in creating the Plett Wine Route, which aims to establish this as a world class wine region.”

View of Bramon Wine Cellar.
Marketed at R33 million and producing a variety of cultivars including the award-winning Methode Cap Classique, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz Rose, the 17.475 hectare Bramon Wine Estate has won numerous awards, including Michelangelo International Silver 2013, Vitis Vinifera Gold 2013, Old Mutual Bronze 2013 and 4 and 4.5 Stars in Platter 2014. Cellar master Anton Smal of Villiera acclaim, enthuses about the diversity of flavours attributed to soil, climate and good old fashioned care. The estate includes a 660sqm wine cellar with 250 ton capacity and state of the art equipment, three bedroom main house with deck and pool overlooking a waterfall and with mountain views, two bedroom log home plus bachelor flat, 200-seater restaurant, tasting centre, vineyards, two dams, and 700m of river frontage.
Says Dobson: “The new winelands area of Plett has been compared favourably with New Zealand, not only for its climatic and geographic characteristics, but for the style of new aged wines which are changing perceptions of wine and bubbly, making local indeed ‘lekker’. With a gentle ocean breeze sweeping through the vines, glorious weather and a wine region that can be traversed in a variety of ways, the Plett Winelands – which hosts its own annual Plett Wine & Bubbly Festival in October - will be making a definite mark on the South African wine industry.”

Luka Wine Estate in Plettenberg Bay has been sold by Pam Golding Properties.

Commenting on the property market in Plett and Knysna Dobson says PGP sales in excess of R84 million from March to August 2014 show a healthy increase in sales turnover of R74 million for the same period in 2013. “Our average selling price is currently R2.775 million which reflects a significant increase of 31 percent over last year and which is indicative of buyers purchasing in a slightly higher price bracket. Apart from local buyers, who are either reinvesting, downscaling and acquiring property for all the usual reasons, Cape Town purchasers – many of whom are relocating here, have overtaken those from Gauteng, while we are also seeing international buyers from Germany, United Arab Emirates, Botswana, Sweden and the UK. The latter usually purchase property for leisure or partial use for several months of the year.
“All the signs of an improving market are evident. Vacant land sales have picked up, with bargains currently available ranging in price from below R500 000 in Pezula Golf Estate and under R2 million in Pezula Private Estate, while residential developments which were put on hold prior to the slump, are now on the market offering good value for money.  There seems new energy and confidence in the market in general, and positively, construction of homes taking place, with 12 houses currently being re-built in Beachy Head in Plett. There is also growing interest in guesthouses, particularly among German buyers, with prices of available stock currently in the region of R6.9 million to R11 million in Plett and from R4.2 million to R14 million in Knysna.
“Further to this we are experiencing significantly increased interest in industrial and commercial property as well as farms,” she adds. PGP recently sold two industrial properties in Knysna in the R2-R3 million price range, both fully tenanted with yields between 9.5 and 10.5 percent. The properties were acquired by an investor from the Free State. Interestingly, Knysna’s industrial area has become something of an ‘old car’ mecca, with the town’s annual Jaguar Simola Hillclimb drawing an attendance of over 22 220. A local resident who has made his life-long passion for cars into a successful business is Norman Frost of Frost Brothers, an icon in the classic and vintage car industry based in premises in the industrial area and operating mainly via the internet. Car enthusiasts come from all over the country and even internationally to buy his cars and even purchase vehicles unseen.”
She says in Knysna CBD commercial properties are generating heightened interest with a number of older buildings revamped to offer appealing retail space as well as new coffee shops and restaurants. With fibre optic cabling being installed, Knysna will soon be able to offer faster internet, which together with very competitive rentals and lower overheads is anticipated to attract large corporate companies which do not need to be located in the cities.

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