Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

SA winery owner killed

Published:  23 July, 2008

The owner of South African winery Veenwouden was shot dead last week in what appears to have been a family dispute.
Deon van der Walt, 47, who was based in Switzerland, and a highly successful opera singer, was found with a gunshot wound to the chest at the estate, which is outside Paarl. The body of his father, Charles, was found nearby, with a gunshot wound to the temple.

Veenwouden spokesman and lawyer Mike Lochner issued

this statement: We are utterly devastated by this personal tragedy.

Unfortunately, Deon and his father sometimes clashed over personal matters, and in a heated moment, the situation became out of control.'

General manager Henritte Jacobs added that the winery would remain in production.

Neleen Strauss, co-owner of the Vivat Bacchus restaurant in Farringdon, London, who named the venue after Veenwouden's Merlot-dominant Bordeaux blend, was a close friend of Deon's. She told Harpers: We are grateful to have had him as a friend who always loved to open a great bottle of red, to have had him sing in our restaurant, and to have a gentle and very humble star as part of our lives.

With the creation of Veenwouden, he raised the standards of South African wines forever. His fabulous spirit will live on in the South African wine industry and in this restaurant.'

And Pippa Woods, managing director of Seckford Agencies, which has been importing Veenwouden for more than five years, added: It's just an unbelievable tragedy. Deon was just fantastic, a world-renowned opera singer, just spellbinding. The family are such lovely people, so I can't begin to understand how something like this could happen. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.'

Woods said that van der Walt had visited the UK to take part in a number of Food, Wine, and Song' events, in which he would serenade guests during dinner.

Van der Walt was the first South African tenor to complete the so-called grand slam' of opera singing, with performances in notable venues in London, Milan, Vienna, and New York. The funeral was due to take place on Tuesday (6) in Wellington.