THE OWNERS – WILLIE & EMMA DREYER
Willie and Emma Dreyer are the proud owners of Leeuwenkuil Family Vineyards. Their story set off when they met at the age of 16 and together they have built Leeuwenkuil into the successful winery it is today.
Hardworking, passionate farmer Willie has a particularly hands-on approach to wine farming and studiously tends to his land from dusk until dawn. He inherited half of the farm, which back then comprised of 45 hectares of vineyards. Over the past 30 years, Willie, his family and his hard-working team together have built Leeuwenkuil into what it is today – 1250 hectares of thriving vineyards.
Emma grew up a mere two farms north of Leeuwenkuil and has a first-hand grasp of all facets of farming. She is the one who brings the Leeuwenkuil family together, always making sure everyone here is as happy as can be. Emma also loves to read up on genealogical history, through which she was able to discover the true roots of Leeuwenkuil, dating back to the eventful year of 1693.
Willie lives by the belief that “We do not inherit the land from our fathers, but rather borrow it from our children”, which subsequently inspired him to have five of them: Anné, Francisce (or “Pikkels”, as we like to call her), Helanzi, Jonike and Willie (Jnr).
Leeuwenkuil, or “Lion’s Lair”, was given its alluring name as a tribute to the ferocious Cape Lion that roamed the farmlands hunting unsuspecting cattle. Watering holes in the area were frequented by these lions, who posed a great threat to local cattle farmers. Luckily for the Dreyer family, Leeuwenkuil’s land was perfectly suited for growing vineyards.
In 1693, Leeuwenkuil was known as Schinderkuijl. This German name refers to the tradition of gathering materials from demolished buildings or shipwrecks to create something entirely new – as carried out on the farm. Today the buildings on Leeuwenkuil are some of the oldest and most valuable in the entire region.
While the manor house was built using stone, the lintels above the manor doors were sourced from the bottom of a ship’s bow. The Leeuwenkuil courtyard still has the same historical layout as back in 1704 with two long houses, outbuildings and animal pens.
Schinderkuijl was one of the early wine farms of the region and had 8000 vines planted on it. In 1800, following its subdivision, the farm’s name was changed to Leeuwenkuil and in 1851, the charismatic Dreyer family became the new owners. Johan Frederik Dreyer was a direct descendant of Johannes Augustus Dreyer who fled Germany, in 1713. As with any good tale, this adventure involved a woman. Legend has it he had to flee Germany after defeating his opponent in a sword fight over this very woman.