Lismore Estate Vineyards
Californian Samantha O'Keefe founded Lismore Estate in 2003, on the outskirts of Greyton in the Overberg region of the Western Cape of South Africa. Back in the US she had been a TV executive working for the Screen Actors Guild, but wine was her passion and in 2000 she reassessed her career and moved to South Africa. Lismore means “great garden” in Gaelic, and as Samantha had Irish roots she just thought “it was meant to be”, and so the 600 acre former dairy farm was acquired and Samantha began to make wine. She is a self-taught winemaker who was able to draw on knowledge from when she had been a top chemistry student at school. 2006 was her inaugural vintage. The rugged Riviersonderend Mountains are a majestic backdrop to the vines planted at 300 metres above sea level. This is an isolated region, with dramatic and extreme terroir and one of the coolest climates in South Africa, where grapes ripen slowly, roughly three-four weeks later than other wine regions in the Western Cape. Samantha pioneered Greyton to be put on the Wine of Origin scheme map, and it has now been designated by SAWIS (South African Wine Information Systems), recognising the uniqueness of this special site in the Overberg, with its rich fertile soils of decomposed shale and clay and with pockets of Table Mountain sandstone and granite. Presently Lismore is the only registered wine estate in the Greyton ward. A fire destroyed part of Samantha's vineyards and all of her finished wine in 2019. Currently 12.5 hectares are planted with Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Chardonnay and Syrah, which are dryland farmed for more resilient vines. Samantha's hard work and determination have paid off. In 2018 she became a member of the Cape Winemakers Guild, one of only three women to have this honour. Her rich and complex wines are lovingly handcrafted. They have gathered a cult following, and are really rather delicious!