ABOUT OUR FAMILY
Although our story dates back to 1880 when the first brandy was crafted at Boplaas by Daniel Nel, for export to London, it is only since 1980 that Boplaas in its current form came into existence. Being a born entrepreneur, Carel Nel’s first business venture was buying old broken antique furniture, getting it restored and re-selling it. After finishing is BSc studies in winemaking, he joined his father on the farm. Always on the lookout for budding opportunities, he soon started a fruit drying, fruit preserve and jam business and over time used the profits to build a cellar on the farm.
The success of the Boplaas vrugtehappies (dried fruit titbits) and other dried fruits allowed us to follow our true passion of crafting fine wines in the Klein Karoo. The foundation stone of the new cellar was laid on 1981 with the first Boplaas Estate wines released in 1982. Our very first SA Champion Port was crafted in 1986 and was awarded this coveted title at the National Young Wine Show.
Towards the end of the 80’s we established the first vineyards at Ruiterbosch in the Outeniqua Mountains, the first cool climate site in the Southern Cape. This allowed us to produce Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Méthode Cap Classique (traditional bottle fermented sparkling wine).
In 1992 the Guida ai vini del Mondo, published by the Slow Food Foundation, named the Boplaas Vintage Port 1989 as one of the Top 150 wines in the world – a list including legendary wines such as the Chatêaux Margaux 1989, Chatêau Pétrus 1989 and Vega Sicilia Unico 1982.
In 1989 we were the first cellar to obtain a distillation license, much to the pleasure of my father, Danie, and we could fire up the old copper pot still and continue the fine heritage of distillation that started way back in 1880. The result was South Africa’s first Estate Pot Still 5 Year Old Brandy, which was released in 1994.
Beside the multiple SA Champion Ports* and numerous awards for fortified wines, Boplaas was also awarded back-to- back the title as SA Champion Sauvignon Blanc, in 2009 and 2010 at the National Young Wine Show – a truly rare feat. Our table wines are also regularly listed among the top performers in local wine competitions.
Recently our focus has shifted to explore the potential of the Portuguese varieties, which we use in the crafting of our Cape fortifieds, to produce fine table wines. To this end we’ve planted Verdelho and re-established sites of Souzã, Tinta Barocca and Touriga Naçional, while all the while scouring the Cape for old vine sites to supplement our own fruit. Though we’re changing course a little, our foundation still remains the same, namely to craft the best wine possible.
The family farming legacy continues at Boplaas, with both my daughters involved in the enterprise and with many longstanding employees’ children working alongside them. Without the sterling efforts of all involved in the vineyard and cellar, our story would be a short one indeed and it is their task to write the next chapter in our journey.
*SA Champion Port Trophy Winner at the SA National Young Wine Show – 1986, 1987, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2013, 2015 & 2016.
First French Huguenots arrive in the Cape of Good Hope.
Guillaume Nel (Neel) purchases Blaauwklippen farm in Stellenbosch district.
Nel family produces brandy for export to England in Calitzdorp.
Brilliant accident. Danie Nel plants ‘Shiraz’, without realising that it was actually Tinta Barocca.
Carel Nel joins the business and builds the current cellar at Boplaas in Calitzdorp.
First Boplaas Tinta Barocca table wine is bottled at Boplaas.
Winning the first SA Champion Port Trophy at the SA Young Wine Show.
Boplaas is the first estate in South Africa to receive a distilling license.
The first Boplaas 5 Year Old Potstill Brandy is released. This excellent brandy was served at the inauguration of Nelson Mandela.
Rozanne Nel (daughter) joins the family business in a marketing capacity.
Boplaas is awarded the title as the top-performing cellar at the Veritas awards.
Daughter, Margaux Nel, joins the family business as winemaker.
Boplaas is awarded the title as the best private cellar at the Veritas awards.