Our History

It is rare to find a wine farm in South Africa that has been in the same family for as many years as with the Lategans from Bergsig.

Our estate has been in the Lategan-family since 1843, when our original patriarch, Willem Hendrik Lategan made a decision to start a life here at the foot of the mountain.

Seven generations, and almost 200 years later, we still till the soil, we still plant vines and we still make our award-winning wines: thanks to the first Lategan who had a dream, and a mountain that was here for it all.

Benjamin Wilhelm Lategan

“Oom Prop”

Visionary, strategist, leader

Wilhelm Lategan (Oom Prop), was born on July 11, 1938. He lost his parents as a young boy and started farming on the family farm, Bergsig, at the age of 18. Despite his dream of becoming a medical doctor, the calling voice of the farm is too strong and at the age of 21 he takes over the reins from his uncle Willie.

With ambition, hard work, an innovative mindset, and a flair for science and technology, Wilhelm, with a formidable team of workers and loyal managers, expands the farm from 50 hectares to 250 hectares of vineyards under irrigation. Bergsig was declared an estate in 1978 and the first Bergsig Estate wine was bottled in the same year. Miemie, his wife with whom he married in 1963 and an artist in her own right, designs the labels and layout of the wine house. Miemie (Maria Elizabeth de Wet), a long-legged girl from Worcester and Boland netball player, forms the sounding board and mainstay in this successful farm. Four children are born out of the marriage – one daughter and three sons.

Oom Prop, a leader in all areas, joined 110 Squadron at Ysterplaat in 1975. In 1984 he was appointed commander – a position he held until his retirement in 1991. He is still an active pilot and thus lives out his love for flying, which was aroused as a 12-year-old boy by his father, Louis, during an air show on the West Coast. He was also the founder of the Worcester Flying Club.

He has served on the boards of Worcester School for the Deaf, Western Cape Administration Council, Western Cape Development Council, Western Cape Synod NG Kerk Moderamen, Cape Vineyards, Noord-Boland Koöperasie, Boland Agri, Boland Ready Mix, Fynbos, Bainskloof Wine Cellar, and many more.

In his youth, Prop was an avid rugby player and captain of Worcester Boys’ High School. He also played for Worcester’s Rugby Club for 12 years.

With an exceptional interest in the Anglo-Boer War, Wilhelm is truly a walking encyclopedia and knows the history at his fingertips.

He is described as “someone who listens without interruption and someone who focuses on the positive.”

“Tant Anna” Lategan
from Bovlei, Wagenmakersvallei

A formidable woman and daughter of Johann Hermann Lategan

1752 – 1827

Lady Anne Bernard’s writing:

“ We were received at the door of a very respectable-looking English farmhouse by the good people themselves. Anna, is a hale old-ish woman, full of hospitable frankness but as to size and appearance, nearly six-foot-high and rather more masculine.

The wine-growers or ‘wine-boers’, were a class of people who to the blessings of plenty, added a sort of comfort which was unknown to the rest of the peasantry. They had the best houses and most comfortable estates.

Coffee and ‘sopies’ were handed round all afternoon, the Gentlemen smoking their pipes by us, while Vrouw “Veh” (Anna) sat like charity, seven little black naked creatures climbing on the back, scrambling up her knees, while in each arm she held one, looking on it with a mother’s fondness. I found she had none of her own and the husband and wife were so attached to their slaves that they meant to give them all their liberty on her “Anna’s” death.

Thanks to the above historiography of Lady Anne Barnard, in her diary as well as letters to Henry Dundas, much is known about Anna Lategan and her husband, Benjamin Godlieb Weight.

Judging by unpublished papers and oral testimony and the attention that “Aunt Anna” attracted in literary and historical circles, the Weights must have enjoyed certain fame already at the time.

According to a further description by Lady Anne, it appears that “Anna” showed special hospitality just as it is still known today as the “hospitality of the upper country”.

Aunt Anna and Benjamin had no children of their own. They were surrounded by a large number of slaves and slave children. Lady Anne’s description of Aunt Anna with the slave children and their decision to give the slaves freedom – an interesting decision in the last years of the eighteenth century – also served as a reference for cultural-historical studies. Rust is of the opinion that “one of the beautiful and unusual stories of Wellington where love and mercy were the order of the day”, is that of the Weight slaves and their owners, Benjamin and Anna.

Weigt and Anna indicated in their joint will in 1806 that, with the death of the surviving spouse, all slaves, born as well as unborn, must be released as well as receive financial assistance in order to live in Freedom thereafter.

After her husband’s death in 1813, Anna Lategan arranged for her slaves to be baptized and on April 23, 1823, she signed as a witness at the baptism.

If Weigt and Anna Lategan’s attitude towards and treatment of their slaves and their children is taken into consideration; the steps taken in favour of their slaves about 30 years before the emancipation and final release of the slaves, it is understandable why Cairns, Benjamin Weigt and his wife garnered so much praise in her study.

The Ship Padmos

The Padmos sailing ship (also “Patmos”) was built in Rotterdam in 1722 and sailed nine times to the East and back between 1723 and 1752 before it perished “öp het rif in die Smalle Baai”.

The sailing ship, with Willem de Wijs as skipper, left Texel on 18 April 1735 on its fifth voyage with ancestor Johann Hermann Latega(h)n on board as a VOC soldier, and arrived in the Cape of Good Hope on 25 August 1735, en route to Batavia.

Today, the Padmos model can be found in the Maritime Museum in Rotterdam.

Scale of the Model: 1:33
Original Ship Length: 136ft
Original Tonnage: 810

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