La Motte reinvented

PHOTOS: Mark Serra | PRODUCTION: Sumien Brink | WORDS: Michelle Snaddon

Nowhere is the value of history, experience and honest origins more highly prized than on La Motte wine estate in Franschhoek.

Early in 2010, a long-awaited crate of original artworks by Jacob Hendrik Pierneef arrived at La Motte.

The 44 pieces, depicting instantly recognisable South African landscapes, were sold to the estate by the artist’s daughter, Marita. Her personal collection, they’d been housed in her country home in south-west England since Pierneef’s death in 1957. Now 82, Marita wanted the works to return to their country of origin – and decided that La Motte, with its strong emphasis on heritage, would make a fitting home.

It all began over a cup of tea in London, when Marita met with La Motte CEO Hein Koegelenberg and owner Hanneli Rupert-Koegelenberg to give her blessing to the estate’s Pierneef Collection of wines.

Hanneli’s interest in Pierneef goes back to her childhood, when her father, Dr Anton Rupert, gave each of his three children a set of Pierneef linocuts. Hanneli wanted to reproduce some of the linocuts on the wine labels, but needed permission from the artist’s heir. Marita agreed, a friendship was established and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Tradition with a twist

To house this historic art collection, La Motte has built a brand new museum alongside the new, and aptly named, Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant and Farm Shop.

A sense of history has always been important to the Rupert family – and
Stellenbosch interior designer, Christo Barnard, who was commissioned to do the interiors for the restaurant and shop, was given a brief of “tradition with a twist”.

Basing his scheme around Hanneli’s favourite colour, green, he has created a tranquil interior that blends seamlessly with the outside terrace, where monastic-style wooden tables are set under majestic oak trees. Pistachio-coloured Design Team fabrics grace curvaceous sofas and dining chairs inside, while outside there are green “Forest” chairs from the Modern Garden Company.

Across the pebbled rill – constantly tinkling with pure water from a spring higher up in the mountains – fresh flowers spill out from the farm shop.

Inside the scent of freshly baked breads and cakes blends with Spanish-style hams and fish, meat and poultry spices. Here too a sense of heritage is prevalent.

It’s not just any spice mixture, but a recipe by Wilhelmina Mostert that dates back to 1847. Hetta van Deventer, food consultant on the project, found this gem while researching originalrecipes in the National Library. She buried herself in cookbooks and the travel journals of Adam Tas and Lady Anne Barnard to glean authentic ideas for the shop, as well as for Chris Erasmus’s restaurant menu.

Everything has a story. The recipe for Ouma se Brood comes from Hanneli’s mother’s cookbook, and the organic flour for the potbrood is stone-ground at the restored watermill – a National Monument – on the estate. You can buy the flour in reusable linen bags, as well as linen bread cloths to cover dough while it rises.

Pierneef ’s presence is felt too, with placemats and dishcloths printed with some of his distinctive linocuts – you’ll find the originals hanging in the reception area at the entrance to the werf.

Suppliers are local. The Lucas Jamon Spanish-style hams are from the Karoo, as is the “lamb’s meat ham”. Thinly sliced, it’s wrapped in fine tissue paper printed with Pierneef ’s signature.  

Farm shopping at its best

This is farm shopping at its best, with all gifts beautifully packaged with ribbons and bags. And, if you’ve paused earlier in the glass-enclosed music room between the contemporary art exhibition and the newly housed Pierneef collection to listen to Hanneli’s famed mezzo soprano voice, you’ll understand the musical connection with the Opera cake that sits among delicious lemon meringue, baked cheesecake, melktert and individual carrot cakes.

La Motte’s wines line the shelves, too, as do blind-tasting sets and original wine gift bags – printed with copies of the farm’s original handwritten title deeds, dating back to 1695.

Also homegrown is the new Arômes de La Motte range of ethereal oils, made from lavandine, rose geranium, Cape snow bush and buchu grown on the farm – yet another indication that every aspect of life at La Motte has been thoughtfully reflected in what the estate calls the plaaswinkel.

It is just that, but once more, it’s most certainly “tradition with a twist”.

La Motte:, 021 876 8000