Silverhurst Estate’s heritage dates back to 1685 when the revolutionary explorer, Simon van der Stel received a grant for 892 morgen of land, ten times larger than any Governor had ever received at this historical point in time. Van der Stel, renowned for his dynamic discoveries and explorations of the Cape, deemed his newly acquired valley the fairest of them all and called it Constantia, a name meaning “faithful and true.” Each ambitious vision he had for the land was fully realised giving rise to the widely celebrated Cape Dutch culture that attracted visitors near and far to the valley, beginning the grand tradition of Constantia hospitality. From the magnificent avenue of great oaks leading up to the opulent manor houses, to the flourishing fruit trees and vineyards that produced the most wonderful wines amongst the sheltered hills and fertile terrain, everything about Constantia was truly extraordinary.
Over a decade passes by and van de Stel sets his insatiable sights on the neighbouring farm which he acquires from a humble woodcutter living off the land without tenure. Inspired by the density of the glistening silver trees thriving in the hardwood forest, van der Stel names his latest conquest Witteboomen, a treasured addition to his expansive collection, half of which would later become known as Silverhurst Estate.
Four years after van de Stel's passing, Witteboomen became a farm in its own right and was split from the title deed of the original Constantia estate. “Part of Witteboomen”, a literal appellation, was sold to an industrious shoemaker by the name of Johannes Franck, a crafty German immigrant who met and married the granddaughter of the infamous goose-catcher Tryntjie Ganzevanger. Together, the couple harvested and worked the land day in and day out, reaping the rewards of its fertile soil, growing their family by ten and raising them in a far more modest country manor built above the Spaanschemat River running through the estate.
The estate remained in the Franck family name until 1803 when the unmarried surviving heir, Jan Gysbert Franke, bequeathed the estate to his nephew, a minor set to inherit this bountiful earth when he became of age. Franck’s single condition was for the farm to never be sold but rather gifted as an act of faith and affection, and so, the farm was reborn adopting a new name - Franckengift.
Jan Martin Durr purchases the farm and doubles the estate and Adriana Berrange takes ownership. Johan Michiel Storer adds an additional 20 morgen of land to the estate.
Petronella Hugo sells the farm to Petrus Wilhelmus van Druten who holds tenure for 9 years.
Jacobus Johannes Grysbertus van Rheede van Oudtshoorn purchase the farm and name it New Constantia.
The origins of the Gilmour era is by far one of the most romantic narratives in Silverhurst Estate’s history, reminiscent of the shoemaker’s tale and even van der Stel’s gregarious spirit. The Scottish runaway, William George Gilmour, had fled the comfort of his affluent family privilege at the tender age of 14 to pursue a life of adventure. The rambunctious peddler trekked across the country by Ox-wagon, trebling his fortune on a single venture, building a prosperous reserve of savings that afforded him the luxury of becoming the new owner of New Constantia. Witteboomen was reborn yet again, christened by Gilmour’s Irish wife who was charmed by the knoll of glistening silvertrees shimmering brilliance in the sunlight on the crest of the hill. Silverhurst received its final denomination and remained in the Gilmour family for over a century, the longest tenure in history, with three generations of memories and spirits that occupied the land before its transformation into a prestigious country estate.
Like every heroic tale, Silverhurst Estate endured its obstacles, changing hands from stranger to stranger, surviving prominent historical events, and even enjoying a slight revival in the 1950s where the newly named farm, New Constantia, was recognised for its award-winning white wine vintage under the ownership of James Vipan Gotobed. The farm had subsequently grown exponentially in size, expanding from the original 23 hectares to 112 over the past two centuries, a prime prospect for any successor looking to make a sizable investment in one of the Cape’s fairest valleys.