“With its unique blend of country living and close-to-the-city convenience, its award-winning wines and equally celebrated cuisine, and its exclusive clutch of top-calibre schools, the Cape Winelands is regarded by many affluent buyers as the ultimate place to own property”, says Elmarie van Huyssteen, principal of Chas Everitt International in Stellenbosch.
“Since 2012, prices here have been growing at a steady annual rate of 12 to 14% across the spectrum of property types, from smallholdings to expansive wine farms,” she says, noting that buyers are predominantly a mix of Gauteng semigrants and an increasing number of European swallows, the latter no doubt drawn not only be the weather but by the prospects of earning a sizable return on their vinicultural investments thanks to the declining value of the rand.
According to Van Huyssteen, the most coveted properties in the area (and those commanding the highest prices) are on Blaauwklippen Road, the R44 between Somerset West and Stellenbosch, and in Bonniemile. As for the number-one priority on buyer wish-lists, it’s views, views and more views, she says.
“Everybody wants to see the mountains. A bit of vineyard is also popular and if the property has its own boutique cellar you’ve hit the jackpot.”
Meanwhile in Wellington, where larger farms are more readily available, it is the smallholdings under 6ha – the so-called lifestyle farms – that are being snapped up at the moment, says Idalette Jacobs, the local Chas Everitt International property consultant. Bovlei (Wellington East and South East) and the Drakenstein area between Wellington and Paarl are the most desirable areas.
Undoubtedly, part of the attraction of the Cape Winelands is that SA wine tourism is at an all-time high. And Rico Basson, MD of Vinpro, a service organisation for 3500 SA wine producers and cellar members, recently told Bloomberg News that the current R6bn-a- year market is on course to reach around R15bn a year by 2025. This obviously puts an extra glow on properties such as guesthouses and leisure homes that can be let to tourists.
In addition, the wine production sector itself is showing healthy growth. According to SAWIS (SA Wine Industry Information & Systems), wine production volumes have increased 20% over the past four years to about 420m liters a year, and the industry provides work for some 300 000 people, making it the biggest permanent employer in agriculture.
And, of course, the luxury estates and wine farms of the Cape Winelands still offer exceptional value when compared to other major wine regions of the world, says Berry Everitt, group CEO of Chas Everitt International, the SA affiliate of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World© and its luxury real estate programme Luxury Portfolio International©.
“This is a major draw-card for ultra-wealthy foreign investors, and we are receiving an increasing number of enquiries for high-end properties in this region as they become exposed through our global networks*.”
In Wellington, for example, prices average around R200 000/ha for mountainside land and R600 000/ha for a working farm under irrigation, while smallholdings cost R1m/ha and upwards, according to Jacobs. By comparison, to own a piece of the choice “wine country” in California’s famed Napa Valley, buyers are currently paying an average of US$125 000/ha (approximately R1,7m), according to the Global Property Guide.
In Australia, a hectare of Shiraz vines in South Australia’s Barossa Valley currently costs around AUS$100 000 (about R1m), but in Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula (Australia’s equivalent of Stellenbosch), prices can reach AUS$600 000/ha (over R6m).
As for France, investors can count on an average price of €136 400/ha (around R2m) for appellation land in the most prestigious of France’s classified wine regions – and if it happens to be in Champagne, they would have to splash out a not-insignificant €1,1m/ha (nearly R16m).