History of the Estate

Le Bonheur – formerly known as Oude Weltevreden (“Well Satisfied”) – was an important venue for travellers in the Cape, offering fresh spring water and an outspan area at the major junction of Cape Town, Paarl, Stellenbosch and Malmesbury.

The history of the estate dates back to the late 18th century when it was granted by Lord Charles Somerset to its first owner, Jacob Isak De Villiers. The De Villiers family was among the first 200 French Huguenots to arrive at the Cape in 1689 after a five-month journey on the ship, the Zion. Their homestead, built in the H-shaped Cape Dutch style, is a classic example of the architecture of the time. Today, the stately manor house, complete with its original doors and floors, has again been painted in subtle ice-cream hues typical of the day.

Le Bonheur has an enviable terroir. Most of the 65 hectares of vineyards face north, while a few face east and south-east. The vineyards are situated at different altitudes from 200 to 350 metres above sea-level, and each has its own, unique soil characteristics. There are four basic soil types at Le Bonheur: decomposed granite, red loam, sand, and sand over pot clay.

Rainfall occurs in winter, with an annual average of 800 – 900 mm. In summer, the vineyards are cooled by southeasterly winds and the crisp mountain air.

Four years of painstaking labour went into perfecting the structure and composition of the soil before entrusting the vines to it. The improvement and restructuring of Le Bonheur’s soils have been modelled on those of the famed vineyards of France. Today, they contain all the minerals and other nutrients needed for growing the top-performing varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Of these varieties, the best clones were selected to suit the Estate’s climate and soils.

The Chardonnay vines are rooted in areas with well-drained soil and maximum exposure to the sun. Most of the Sauvignon Blanc vines are planted on the lower slopes in cooler clay soils. The higher-lying vineyards with their red loam and decomposed granite soils have proved to be ideal for the cultivation of the shy-bearing Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vines.

winemaker

Our Winemaker,
Lauren Behrens

Lauren said that Le Bonheur is a beautiful farm. She is excited, and keen to learn each vineyard block’s niche individuality terroir to ensure the true identity is retained in the wine that is made from them and to always ensure balance and complexity of that wine.

Lauren completed her  degree in 2005 and did a 9 month internship prior to joining the LUSAN group. She started working at Neethlingshof Estate as Assistant Winemaker, and during the six and a half years spent at Neethlingshof. She harvested in France in 2008 (Chateau Antugnac),  and in California during the harvest period in 2010 (La Crema Winery).  Neethlingshof Winemaker, De Wet Viljoen mentored me throughout this time, presenting me with the opportunity to learn as much as possible from him and also making me aware that in this industry one never stops learning!

Explore our wines