Tucked into the foothills of a dramatic mountain range at the bottom of Africa is Lismore Estate Vineyards. It is here, in the Greyton area, that Californian Samantha O'Keefe found paradise and the perfect terroir.
With a degree in political science and background in television, Samantha left Los Angeles for South Africa in 2000. She fell in love with a 300-hectare ranch called Riviersonderend, named for the mountain range. She purchased the ranch, built her own house, planted vines and constructed a winery. Lismore Estate Vineyards was founded in 2003, and her inaugural vintage was released in 2008. Samantha’s wines have garnered the attention of top journalists, and in 2018, she was inducted into the prestigious Cape Winemaker’s Guild in 2018, becoming the 6th woman to ever be inducted into the Guild.
Samantha’s passion, combined with vines planted at 300 meters, chilled by the winter snow and nourished by the African summer sun, produce classic cool climate wines which are rich, complex and lovingly hand crafted.
The Overberg region is rapidly earning a reputation for premium cool climate grapes. Greyton has now been designated a ward within that district, recognizing the unique terroir expression of the wine that is produced there. Lismore is the only registered wine estate in the Greyton ward.
Lismore's vineyards are planted on slopes at the base of the Riviersonderend Mountain Range. The combination of elevation and climate make for an extended ripening period which is roughly 3-4 weeks later than the more traditional wine growing areas in the Western Cape. There are a total of 12.5 ha planted with Chardonnay, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier. On the Davis Scale, the area is classified as Region 1, meaning Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Syrah and Pinot Noir are doing very well in the region and get perfect ripening conditions.
In December 2019, Samantha - along with her family and her team - suffered a devastating loss, as a wildfire destroyed her home and winery. Sam sadly lost pets in the fire, but was thankful that family and staff made it out safely. Fortunately the Lismore vines were tough and many survived the fire. The South African wine and farming community has come together to support Sam and the Lismore team, and they rise from the ashes to rebuild and embark on the 2020 vintage.