Sir David Graaff passed away at home on the De Grendel family farm on Saturday, 24 January 2015, after a short illness. He was 74. He is survived by his wife of 45 years Lady Sally Graaff, four children De Villiers, Robert, Leeza and David John, and 7 grandchildren.
“While we are sad at his passing, we are grateful that he lived a wonderful, fulfilling life,” says De Villiers. “He was committed to his family, his community and his country and we are immensely proud to have been part of his life.”
The memorial service will be held on Thursday 29 January at 15h00, Die Groote Kerk, Adderley Street, Cape Town.*
Sir David was the son of politician and United Party leader Sir De Villiers (‘Div’) Graaff, and grandson of Sir David Pieter de Villiers Graaff. His BSc. Agriculture degree from Stellenbosch University, and studies in Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Magdalen College, Oxford prepared him for life as farmer and politician. He also studied at the University of Grenoble. He would serve as Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry under F.W. De Klerk, and 11 years as Member of Parliament.
He returned to the farm in 1999 after inheriting the baronetcy and the family farm. At that time the farm was renowned for its Holstein stud and sheep farming. Sir David recognised its potential to grow and produce quality wine.
He started experimenting with viticulture and by 2006 the modern De Grendel wine cellar was completed. Preservation, provenance, sustainability and earth-friendly ethics were all key to his vision, and quality non-negotiable. The many local and international awards pay testament to his forward thinking. A devotee of red Bordeaux, his long-time dream of producing a wine in this style, came to fruition a few years later with the launch of De Grendel Rubaiyat. Each vintage since then bears testament of Sir David’s philosophical side – featuring a different quatrain from Omar Khayyam’s The Rubaiyat, ruminating life’s great questions. The opening of De Grendel Restaurant at the wine cellar was another extension of his ideal to bring visitors to the historic farm.
A strong supporter of the arts, he will also be remembered for his support to farm labourers and their families, and encouraging education for their children. The Montrose Foundation set up by the Graaff family in 2008, are engaged in equine youth development programmes.
Sir David was a director of Graaffs Trust and The Milnerton Estates Limited and also the Honorary Colonel of the Cape Garrison Artillery.
*Donations can be made to the Montrose Foundation, in lieu of flowers, if so preferred. (www.montrosefoundation.co.za)