The legacy of the Marais family’s 300-year wine-making history lives on at Plaisir de Merle in picturesque Simondium. The wines produced here are inspired by the harmony of a rich history, the fertile soil, lush vineyards and a passion for making memorable wines.
Pleasure of the blackbird
Founder Charles Marais fled his home in France and set sail with his family in 1687, settling in the Groot Drakenstein Valley. He was one of only a handful of French Huguenots experienced in winemaking when he arrived at the Cape, and in 1693 governor Simon van der Stel granted him land, which he named after his home town, Le Plessis Marly. His grandson Jacob Marais grew the estate into the finest in the region and today the farm is known as Plaisir de Merle which translates from the French to ‘Pleasure of the Blackbird’.
The manor house built by Jacob dates back to 1764 and remains as one of the earliest and finest examples of Cape Dutch architecture, its splendour regularly the host to weddings and private functions.
Plaisir de Merle is one of the Cape’s largest and oldest wine farms with about half of the land under vineyards and the rest left largely untouched as the preserve of the indigenous plant and animal life.
The vineyards are located along the north and east-facing slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain where the high mountain peaks shade the vines from the hot late afternoon sun, slowing down ripening for concentrated flavours.