A century ago on the farm Winkelshoek, about 30km North of Piketberg, the Hanekom family’s colorful history started. Newly married J.C.H (Jan) Hanekom worked as a sojourner on the farm. In 1904 he obtained lease rights and farmed tobacco. Gradually he began to establish vineyards. The location is hot and grapes achieved high sugars that are ideal for sweeter wine cultivars. In 1918 he sets up a small cellar and buys nine wine barrels at cooper F.S. Smith. The first winemaker in the family tree is born! On October 8, 1925 he bought the farm lock stock and barrel on a public auction.
H.A.C Hanekom, or as we would call him, Grandpa Hennie, is the youngest of Jan Hanekom’s four sons. In those years the common rule was that the eldest son inherited the farm. He therefore decided to study engineering at the University of Stellenbosch. When his elder brother decided to start his own business and call life as a winemaker and farmer farewell, Grandpa Hennie decided there and then to move back to the farm.
He became the new winemaker. Not only did he make the most delicious dessert wines, he used his engineering history and did pioneer work with electricity (Winkelshoek was the first in the area that had electricity). The tanks are still used today, because space in the current cellar on Schenkfontein is limited.
Winkelshoek is therefore a lasting part of the Hanekom family’s success, winemaker genes and pioneer work, which will never be forgotten, just like Grandpa Hennie’s well-guarded “soetwyn” recipe.
The farm Schenkfontein originated on 9 December 1992 when a certain portion of the old Winkelshoek family farm, referred to as Winkelshoek Portion C, was separately sold off to Hennie Hanekom, who was to set out on a venture of his own. The intention for this piece of land was to act as a small holding and not to grow any vines or the making of wines.
Several months after the split it was decided to name the farm Schenkfontein. The name originates from a kindhearted Dutch master, Mr Schenke, who chose to make his new home in the early 1900’s at a specific fountain (fontein) on this setting where he spent his time teaching the local children how to read and write under the big branches of an old pomegranate tree. The word “Schenke”, actually alluding to the Dutch master, also means “wine provider” and proved to be prophetic and not co-incidental at all. The fate of the farm seems to have been decided long before any of us gave it any thought!
The farm consists of about 153 hectares of which only 23 consists of vineyards. The rest consist of shallow clay soil and mountain area. Soil types on the farm range from sand/clay to stone and clay soils. Dams in the ravines in the mountains store water during the winter months, and it is this water which nourishes and replenishes the vineyards during the summer months. On 21 July 2010 the family bought the farm Kliprivier next to Schenkfontein.
It is here, in these idyllic wine-producing conditions that winemaker, Hendrik Hanekom, produced the first certified wines under the Schenkfontein label in 2014. He is a passionate winemaker with his own beliefs and his wines can be described as “easy drinking”. He still follows some of Oupa Hennie’s well-guarded recipes.