Fools rush in where angels fear to tread – we came down to the Cape from Johannesburg in August 1943 after my husband Bernard had been boarded out of the Air Force, and that as far as I am concerned,
was the beginning of a meaningful life.”
Excerpt from Our Lives at Bellingham by Fredagh Podlashuk, 1983
This is a story of courage, determination and unwavering dedication to the land and vines of Bellingham. It is an odyssey richly coloured by the labours of vintners, past and present.
Originally known as ‘Bellinchamp’ (pretty fields), Bellingham begins its story in 1693 when Hollander Gerrit Janz van Vuuren and his French Huguenot wife planted the first 1000 vines on the estate. Through ages of farming families, the modern renaissance of the Bellingham Estate in Franschhoek began in the 1943 when Bernard and Fredagh Podlashuk purchased the somewhat dilapidated and derelict farm and began restoring the Manor House, the gardens and the vineyards.
The Podlashuks were true pioneers, and with little farming acumen enlisted the help of 13 Italian prisoners of war, who helped to replant the vineyards. Bernard and Fredagh travelled to France and Germany hungry for knowledge and it was this experience and initiative that inspired the release of the first rosé in the Cape in 1949, their ‘Premier Grand Cru’ was the first dry white blend and an original in its style released in 1951, and the first single varietal Shiraz was bottled at Bellingham in 1956.
The ‘80s and ‘90s saw vineyard developments, cellar extensions and the beginning of Bellingham’s ‘classic-new world’ winemaking philosophy. The new century saw a shift in the Bellingham portfolio and The Maverick range of wines was launched in 2002 – a challenge to convention and custom. Boldly exploring new territories in the fine art of crafting wine, Bellingham has received numerous international awards and acclaim. This generation of Bellingham celebrates the historic momentum that has shaped its wines through time in four chapters that tell the stories behind the gable bound by a golden thread of innovation, ingenuity and foresight.