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The Alsace-based group is France’s biggest wine exporter and the biggest private winemaker in the country, with 68 properties spread across the country.

It is also the largest exporter of French wine, accounting for around one in every six bottles sold in international markets, with brands including Calvet and J.P. Chenet.

The company, whose full name is Les Grands Chais de France, recently shifted its strategy in a bid to become a global wine producer with estates in a variety of premium wine regions around the world.

It recently snapped up Las Niñas in Colchagua, Chile, and it has now moved into Stellenbosch by purchasing Neethlingshof for an undisclosed sum.

The estate has 100ha under vine, and there are plans to plant a further 27ha over the next two years. Neethlingshof produced 600,000 bottles in 2021, but the team plans to double that to 1.2 million by 2024.

A German settler named Willem Barend Lubbe founded the estate in 1692, and it changed hands several times in the ensuing years, before the Marais family bought it in 1788. They added a wine cellar in 1802.

Hans Joachim Schreiber, a German banker, bought Neethlingshof in 1985, and his family has controlled it until now.

It is famed for producing high-quality, vegan wines, including The Estate range, The Short Story Collection and the 1802 Collection.

Neethlingshof also has a thriving cellar door business, with more than 30,000 visitors each year taking in the scenery, enjoying tastings and dining in the Salt restaurant.

‘Neethlingshof is one of South Africa’s most historic estate with an established premium reputation for making award-winning wines,’ said Mark Kears, the managing director for the UK and Ireland at GCF.

‘We are very excited to welcome this stunning South African estate into the GCF family. The momentum of GCF’s international journey is picking up speed, with this latest significant investment into the New World.’

Alongside its New World expansion, GCF has also started to spread its tentacles across Europe. Purchases include Castillo de Aresan in Spain and Danubiana in Hungary.

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