MORE ABOUT LEENDERS
The Company's Gardens
It was a shipwreck that changed the course of history.
In 1644, the Dutch ship Nieuwe Haarlem ran aground in the infamous Cape of Storms, which eventually led to the creation of a new state on the southern part of the African continent. While all crewmen survived the wreckage, not all could return immediately to Holland, with 60 men asked to remain in the Cape to look after the cargo.
Unscathed and once on dry land, some of the remaining crewmen arrived at a spring, where they set up base and sowed seeds using the fresh river water available to them. Soon, a few buds sprouted, and over time, an abundant garden was growing thanks to the rich, fertile soil. Upon Jan van Riebeeck’s order, the garden was used to supply fresh produce to passing ships more fortunate than the Nieuwe Haarlem - who had begun to use the Cape as a refreshment station.
By 1662, the garden had over 70 dedicated acres and became a true sight to behold - lush with tropical fruit, juicy vegetables, aromatic herbs, medicinal plants, pine trees and colorful shades of roses that all filled the air to create an alluring scent in the growing town.
Indeed, such a project required a true visionary, and it was so that Head Gardener Wijnand Leenders was appointed to cultivate and nourish the garden - which later came to be known as the Company’s Gardens, located in the heart of Cape Town.
Today, the Company Garden’s is a national monument and a historical home to South Africa’s oldest cultivated pear tree, some of the first vineyards in the country, a popular tea house and a myriad of untold stories to uncover and share over a fine glass of wine.
In 1639, Wijnand Leenders was born in the small forest town called Bezuidenhout, located between Haarlem and Alkmaar in Holland. A farmer with an adventurous spirit and nurturing nature, Wijnand decided to set out to the tip of Africa on the 15 August 1665 - when he was just 27 years old.
After a brief stopover in Ghana along the way, Wijnand arrived at Table Bay in Cape Town 6 months later, on the 30 January 1666 - a mere 28 days after the flagstone of the Castle, a now historic landmark in the Cape Town city centre, had been laid.
He was soon to be appointed as Head Gardener at the Company’s Gardens. In this historic garden where fresh produce was cultivated for passing ships, some of the first vineyards in South Africa were also grown. Wijnand Leenders (later Bezuidenhout) became one of the first vine growers and winemakers at the Southern Tip of Africa.
On the 10th March 1674, while doing his gardening duties, Wijnand sat on top of a cart full of wood while being pulled out of a forest. Normal practice would have been to walk beside the cart, not sit atop. Having done so many times before, sadly this time around Wijnand was not as lucky, with the cart unexpectedly turning over and killing him under an unsuspecting avalanche of wood.
Today, centuries later, his legacy is honoured by a new generation of Bezuidenhout-family winemakers. The Bezuidenhout family are a direct lineage of Leenders. The Leenders family name was amended to the the Dutch version of ‘van Bezuidenhout’, which is a name that still lives on strongly in the Cape today. To ensure the ‘Leenders’ name is not lost in history, the Bezuidenhout winemakers have decided to craft elegant wines of a bold and hearty nature that celebrate Wijnand Leenders and his legacy of working the land to produce the finest fruit.