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About Mont Rochelle

Mont Rochelle Mountain Vineyards is situated on the slopes of the beautiful Franschhoek Mountains, two kilometres from the village centre. The area around Franschhoek, meaning ‘French corner’ in Afrikaans, was once a French enclave, as the name suggests, when over 300 years ago a group of Huguenot settlers arrived fleeing religious persecution. The Huguenot influence, nestled alongside the larger Dutch-speaking community, is what gives the region such a rich and varied history and, unsurprisingly, a taste for fine food and wine.

Our History

In the beginning…
The title deeds to the estate where the current Mont Rochelle Hotel & Vineyard resides were first granted to the de Villiers family in 1688, with construction commencing two years later in 1700. There is a cairn of stones on the property, which dates back to this first settlement, marking the position of a beacon, which was lit to call the residents to prayer when the local preacher arrived, as well as for welcoming VIPs to the district. Little else is known about the estate’s ownership during this time, however, aside from the fact that wine has been consistently produced on the land ever since.

In the early part of the 20th century, the title to the estate was passed to the Roux family until Abraham Michelson purchased the land in 1940. At this point the estate included a cellar containing 20 large oak vats, with the majority of the vines having been planted around the time of the last Boer War (1899- 1902). Descendants of the Michelson family still live in the area today and own part of the land from that original holding.

After the 2nd World War, Abraham Michelson started Franschhoek Winery, with the farmers in the district sending their bulk wine for bottling. Italian prisoners-of-war had been used as labourers in the district’s vineyards and, at the war’s end, Abraham Michelson employed one of them to manage his winery - a Mr. A.G Augustini. In 1955 Abraham died and his three children inherited the farm. One son ran the farm, while his daughter moved away to France, and Siggy Michelson moved with his wife and four children into a small residence where the present reception area stands.

The building changed hands several more times and was extended on numerous occasions, particularly over the past 20 years. The most recent owners, prior to Sir Richard Branson, were Erwin Schnitzler, a German hotelier, and Miko Rwayitare, who took possession of the hotel and winery, which at the time was called ‘La Couronne’. La Couronne Hotel and Restaurant was severely damaged by a fire in February 2006. After a period of repair and renovation, Messieurs Rwayitare and Schnitzler used the opportunity to merge the hotel and the neighbouring Mont Rochelle Mountain Vineyards to create ‘Mont Rochelle Hotel and Mountain Vineyards’. Mr Rwayitare became the first black owner of a vineyard in South Africa and the vineyard’s premium wine was named after him – as well as the current main restaurant.

Mont Rochelle was purchased by Sir Richard Branson in 2014, joining the exclusive Virgin Limited Edition collection. After an extensive period of refurbishment, Mont Rochelle Hotel & Vineyard began welcoming guests in September 2014.

Meet the Team

Elizma Stone

Elizma joined the team at Mont Rochelle as General Manager in September 2022.

Peter Karanja

Peter is a born and bred Kenyan and has been part of the Mont Rochelle family for more than 10 years. Legend has it that Peter was chased by a lion all the way to South Africa, but it was in the Franschhoek valley where his heart feels most at home. He joined us as a Restaurant Manager, but if you’ve ever met Peter you know his magic lies with guests which is why he moved across to become Guest Liaison Manager. Where Peter goes, his notorious little black book goes (after 10 years he has quite a collection) and in his top pocket lies the secret to every spectacular guest experience.

Annette de Villiers

Annette is our Operations Manager and has the enviable job of managing our beautiful rooms and suites while also overseeing our Front Office team and our gift shop at Mont Rochelle. With a passion for creating magical experiences for our guests, this is the perfect job for Annette, plus she also gets the opportunity to indulge her other passions for wine and meeting new people.

Michael Langenhoven

Michael Langenhoven, the Mont Rochelle winemaker, was formerly the white wine winemaker at Boschendal and prior to that the winemaker at La Motte wine estate in Franschhoek. The talented wine devotee also has experience of international winemaking, having guided successful harvests in France’s Rhône Valley (M.Chapoutier, 2009) and Sancerre (Pascal Jolivet, 2011), as well as California’s Dry Creek Vineyards in 2004 and 2005.

Langenhoven accredits his love for winemaking to his family roots in the industry. His Granduncle was an accomplished winemaker and Michael was fortunate enough to grow up close to the winelands. With a tenured career spanning over 17 years, Michael acknowledges one of his proudest accomplishments in winemaking as the first double gold medal that he won at the VERITAS Wine awards, one of South Africa’s most sought after wine competitions.

With diplomas in Viticulture, Cellar Technology and Viniculture, Wine Business Management; and a dynamic, results-driven and professional approach – Michael’s hopes are to contribute in growing the accomplished Mont Rochelle legacy of excellent wines.

Bronwyn Forbes

Bronwyn loves coming to work each day and has a real passion for spa therapy! As Head of the Mont Rochelle Spa team, she loves offering her clients pure relaxation and total wellbeing and particularly enjoys seeing the difference from when clients walk into the spa to when they leave following their treatments.

Blom

Blom is our resident cat here at Mont Rochelle. She is one of the longest-serving members of the team, having been born on the property over ten years ago. Her name means ‘flower’ in Afrikaans and, true to her name, she can often be found exploring the extensive grounds and gardens of the estate.

Preparing for your stay



What’s the weather like?

Don’t forget South Africa’s position in the southern hemisphere means the warmest months are from November to March, however the average daytime high rarely drops below 15°C/60°F.

Many visitors to South Africa choose to combine a trip to the Cape Region with a safari experience in the country’s north east. We recommend Ulusaba, our Private Game Reserve in the Sabi Sand Reserve. You will find that the weather in Ulusaba is often complementary to the weather in Cape Town, meaning that you will get the best of both worlds. You can wake up for a morning game drive at Ulusaba and be at Mont Rochelle in time for pre-dinner drinks.

What to pack?

The atmosphere at Mont Rochelle is casual and informal, but that doesn’t stop you dressing up for dinner at MIKO, if you wish. The ambience at the restaurant next to our wine cellar, The Country Kitchen, is relaxed, jackets and ties are never necessary, but it’s totally up to you.

When you’re not dining you might well be soaking up the sun around the pool, so we’ve provided sunscreen, however you may wish to bring your own. If you plan on getting active in the gym then don’t forget to bring a pair of sneakers/ trainers which could also be handy if you plan on venturing further afield.

Sustainability

We know just how important it is to take care of the environment, and we are extremely sensitive to the impact our properties may have on the local communities within which we operate. We believe in environmentally sustainable tourism and remain committed to making a difference wherever we can.

What does this mean in practice?
Our approach includes a commitment to responsible supply chain management, fair trade policies, ethical dealings with our employees as well as the local community, and of course the environment. We know that some changes can be made immediately however others may take a little more time. Virgin Limited Edition is proud to have taken steps at all our properties to reduce any negative environmental impact, and Mont Rochelle is no exception. Mont Rochelle is very conscious about ensuring that our supply chains are ethical in regards to the raw materials and labour used. We strive to ensure that as much of our food as possible is locally sourced in South Africa to ensure maximum economic benefit to the people and minimal transport and ‘food miles’.

Pack for a Purpose

We are proud members of Pack for a Purpose, an initiative that allows travellers like you to make a lasting impact in the community at your travel destination. If you save just a few kilos of space in your suitcase and bring supplies for area schools or medical clinics in need, you'll make a priceless impact in the lives of our local children and families.

Here at Mont Rochelle, we are currently supporting FRANCO with the aim of improving collaboration between social programmes and organisations within the Franschhoek Valley. The projects that FRANCO have funded include, ex-offender community reintegration, soup kitchens, life skills training in schools, music outreach, school holiday programmes and early childhood development centres. FRANCO are also involved with various sports programmes as well as support groups for the elderly and people with disabilities.

If you’d like to get involved and purchase items to help this worthy cause we’ll be happy to provide a list of supplies. Whether it’s clothing, school supplies or non-perishable food items your donations will make a priceless impact to the lives of local children and families.

Please click here to see what supplies are needed for our project/projects.

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