Three weeks after the arrival of Simon van der Stel in 1679 to the Cape, the newly appointed commander and later governor of the Cape undertook a journey to the Hottentot Holland Mountains.
On the 6th of November 1679 he spent the night encamped on a small wooded island surrounded or formed by the Eersterivier, which is translated to First River in English (So named by the early explorer Corporal Muller in 1655, when undertaking an expedition into the interior for Jan Van Riebeeck the first commander of the Cape).
Simon van der Stel named this area after himself “Stellenbosch” or in English “Stel in the bush”. In 1680 farmers started settling along the Eersterivier region, and shortly thereafter In 1685 Commissioner Van Rheede of the VOC accompanied Simon Van Der Stel to this region and decided that a Drostdy or a magistrate office be erected, and a town be laid out. Jan Mulder was appointed as first Landrost or magistrate.
In 1687 the first church in South Africa was then built which is now the site of the oldest hotel in South Africa the “Oude Werf”.
The VOC introduced French Hugeunot farmers to this region, to farm grapes and produce wine as the soil was suited for viniculture, many of the farms still bare the French family names till this day.
The town is also known as Eikestad or town of oaks, stemming from 1682 when the Heemraden (officials of the waterboard appointed by the VOC) planted oak trees.
Join us on tour to learn more, and to enjoy the wine of this region while interacting with its people. Information on various tours in Stellenbosch and the Winelands region is available on our tours page