Flying from Namibia we arrived in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. At the exit of the airport we suddenly realized that we were in the “real Africa“ : damaged roads, sometimes traffic lights not working – so you drive slowly with your warnings ON –, no street names and traffic signalisation missing most of the time. But this in fact is not a problem and doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that Zimbabwe is a beautiful and lovely country with open-arms people and fantastic landscapes that you must visit at least once in your lives, like the Victoria Falls or some great safaris places.
The pioneers brought vines to “Rhodesia“, as Zimbabwe was then called, in about 1890, but grape growing was not undertaken commercially until about 1960*. Trade sanctions imposed by Britain – after the Rhodesian government declared its independence in 1965 – forced farmers to diversify and some planted vines of clairette blanche, pinotage, chenin blanc and red muscadel. These were distributed to the Eastern Districts, Hippo Valley, Marandellas and the Mazoe Valley.
When Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980, the wine industry was integrated under the control of three wineries: African Distillers (AFDIS), Cairns Wineries and Meadows Estate. Nowadays wine industry is decreasing in Zimbabwe. From what we saw in different information sources, we thought that there were 2 wineries in the country : Mukuyu Winery and Bushman Rock Estate.
We had the chance to spend a few days at Bushman Rock Safaris and Wine Estate, a winery which was first planted in the late 30’s (with first commercial wines in the 60’s).
The 102-hectares property was purchased by a civil engineer Mr. D.C. Mullins in 1949. His vision for the untamed area of woodland was a European style vineyard and winery and his wife and family helped him clear and terrace the land, put in basic irrigation and plant 12 hectares of vines, making it one of the first vineyards in the country.
In 2007 a joint venture company was established between two families who owned adjacent properties and the “Busman Rock Safaris” concept was born.
The two families set about developing Bushman Rock into a gracious Wine and Wildlife Estate preserving the natural beauty of the valley whilst working towards the production of quality wines. They developed the wine estate over the last 13 years, replanting and expanding the vineyards with new “noble cultivars” imported from the Cape like Semillon, Sauvignon blanc, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet sauvignon and Cabernet
franc, adding drip irrigation into all vineyards and re-trellising the vines.
As a preservation program for the Zimbabwean nature, they introduced into the estate 13 of the magnificent species of African wildlife : Giraffe, Eland, Sable, Kudu, Nyala, Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest, Tsessebe, Wildebeest, Zebra, Impala, Bushbuck, Waterbuck, Duiker.
They also developed facilities to cater towards equine tourism with the focus on polo, although there are also showing jumping and dressage arena. With the focus on polo they created the Polo Arena, a full size international polo field, have built a restaurant and function venue at the winery as well as renovating existing structures into a conference and function venue for seminars as well as building a picturesque Chapel for weddings. To discover urgently.
Thank you to Bushman Rock Estate for its warm welcome