In 1940 Abraham Michelson purchased the land which at the time consisted of a cellar with 20 large oak vats with the majority of vines having been planted around the time of the last Boer War (1899- 1902). Descendants of the Michelson family still live in the area and own part of the land from that original holding. Michelson started Franschhoek Winery after the 2nd World War and the farmers in the district used to send their bulk wine to them for bottling. During this period Italian prisoners-of-war were used to work in the district’s vineyards and at the war’s end Mr Michelson employed one of them, a Mr AG Augustini, to manage their winery. In 1955 Abraham died and his three children inherited the farm. One son ran the farm while a daughter moved away to France, and Siggy Michelson moved with his wife and four children into a small residence where our present reception area stands.
Over the past 20 years the building has been extended on numerous occasions and has also changed hands several times. The most recent owner prior to Sir Richard Branson was Erwin Schnitzler, a German hotelier and Miko Rwayitare, who took possession of the hotel and winery which at the time was called ‘La Couronne’.