Wine farming is a du Toit tradition, and members of the family have been wine farming for more than 300 years in the Cape. The French Huguenot founder of the family established a farm near what is now Wellington in 1691, then a wild, untamed land abounding in game, and planted the first vines in the area.
Stephan du Toit, who has had Mont du Toit since 1996, continues that tradition, inspired by Stephan’s childhood memories of his father’s wine farm. His father, also a trained lawyer, had in turn inherited his love of the vine from his childhood in the Swartland. Notwithstanding his city work place, he would rise at four, often with Stephan, to visit his vineyards on the outskirts of Stellenbosch.
When Stephan’s father was posted abroad on diplomatic service, the tradition was broken for a while – but energetically resumed at Mont du Toit, by Stephan, a senior advocate at the Johannesburg Bar.
The 28 hectares of vineyards lie at the foot of the Hawequa mountain, below the Du Toits Kloof Pass. That name recalls the early exploration by generations of du Toits of the route to the hinterland over the mountain range. The word “Hawequa” is a Khoi word, meaning the place of the murderers. The mountain gained this name because it was a retreat for the poison-arrow bearing San (Bushmen), who used to raid the pastoral Khoi in the valleys below.
From the outset, the help of two renowned German vintners, Bernd Philippi and the late Bernhard Breuer was enlisted. They, with Stephan, planned vineyards and cellars – the latter built into a slope to enable the wine to be moved by gravity. A vaulted, cooled underground maturation cellar houses the small oak barrels in which Mont du Toit matures for up to two years. Bernd still advises and pays regular visits to the winery each year.
Our first vintage was the 1998 – and on release two years later was rated second best joint venture wine in the world by the English “Wine” magazine. Other accolades have followed.
Mont du Toit labels symbolize its location and history. The mountain silhouette is that of the Hawequa Mountain, the French names honour our Huguenot forebears and the Khoi figure on the Hawequas label recalls our bond with Africa and its sun. The mountain has also set the theme for the names of our wines – the mountain, the slopes and the summit.