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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Kim Maxwell

A multi-million Rand joint tourism, eco-tourism and wine venture will be developed on a 100-hectare municipal commonage in Franschhoek by late 2004. The proposed Fransche Hoek Wine Estate includes a hotel and vino-spa, vineyards and cellar, olive groves, African traders' marketplace and interactive food and wine museum. The newly-formed VinoAfrika will produce the Fransche Hoek Wines. This benchmark company, created by four historically disadvantaged partners, is focusing on industry expertise and superior wines. A separate company co-owns the 34ha of vines and 20ha of olives, of which VinoAfrika owns 55%. The VinoAfrika team consists of South Africa's first black winemaker, university graduate Mzokona Mvemve of Cape Classics, and coloured winemaker Carmen Stevens of Stellenbosch Vineyards. Coloured Orlando Philander of Afrika Vineyards will cultivate the vineyards, while the South African Wine Industry Trust's (SAWIT) coloured general manager, Marthinus Saunderson, is the marketing spokesperson. Planting begins in 2003. A Vinotherapy spa is being franchised by Bordeaux's Source de Caudale, which pioneered the spa and cosmetic concept that incorporates the beneficial antioxidant properties of grapes. The Meikles Group will manage the 120-luxury suite hotel and spa centre operations. Fransche Hoek Estate is backed by the Franschhoek Empowerment and Development Initiative, a private and community partnership between Stellenbosch municipality, Franschhoek community and businessmen. Financiers include the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the French government.