Helmut Wilderer, a German restaurant owner, decided to leave the industry and founded Wilderer Distillery in January 1995 – South Africa’s first private distillery.
Today, Wilderer is one of the most prestigious producers of Grappa, Gin and Eau de Vie worldwide.
It all started in January 1994, after winning a golf tournament and a trip to South Africa. He arrived in Johannesburg and went on to golfer’s paradise- Sun City.
After an excellent meal at the Italian restaurant, he ordered a Grappa, and to Helmut’s great surprise he learnt that there was no local version available. Not in this restaurant and as explained by the manager, not in the entire country.
To his further astonishment, on his trip down to the Cape and his ride on the Blue Train, he learnt that there was also no Eau de Vie available.
For Helmut, a lover of fine Grappa and fruit spirits, this came as a big surprise, especially since the country had some of the world’s best fruits and grapes available.
A law from apartheid times, prohibited the production of such spirits, however, the country had now become a democracy, and so the monopoly was dissolved. Helmut seized the moment of change and applied for the first private distilling license in April 1994.
Somewhat to his surprise, it wasn’t long until he got his approval and in a matter of 6 months, he’d sold everything he owned in Germany and arrived in the Cape with his son in November 1994.
His vision was clear: to become a leader in the production of world-class Grappa & Eau de Vie.
Wilderer is not only South Africa’s first private distillery, but also the most awarded, with over 70 international medals and awards, including many Gold and Double Gold Medals.
In the tasting room at “Pappa Grappa” (just outside Paarl, on the way to Franschhoek), you can taste and buy all Wilderer’s fine spirits. The restaurant has become one of the most- loved in the Winelands and serves specialities such as Flammkuchen, Springbok Ravioli, fresh fish and juicy steaks.
In season, they host live Jazz brunches on every first Sunday of the month – since 17 years. This spot is truly a meeting point for tourists and locals alike.
Since January 2013, Wilderer has a second location, on the celebrated Spice Route Destination Farm in Suider-Paarl. Besides a beer brewery, chocolate factory, glass blowing, wine tasting, mountain bike tracks and more, Wilderer here offers another tasting room and stunning restaurant called La Grapperia Pizza & Bistro. Enjoy some of the Winelands’ most spectacular views on to the Franschhoek and Stellenbosch mountains, all the way to Cape Town’s majestic Table Mountain.
Relax outside for lunch or a sundowner, or sidle up to the fireplaces inside the cosy Cape Dutch heritage buildings and enjoy superb cuisine, while watching the production process of Wilderer’s fine spirits.
Helmut Wilderer sadly passed away in December 2016. His son Christian and long-standing team continue to build on Helmut’s legacy and in his spirit continue, to craft the true “Spirit of the Cape”.