When Doug and Sue Lund came to Plettenberg Bay in 2006 to plant vineyards and set up Newstead Wines, they brought rich polo and farming heritage with them.
Doug had represented South Africa in polo for fourteen years, his father had played for South Africa, and both Doug and Sue’s families had been riding and training horses for generations.
They were also both from well-established farming families in KwaZulu-Natal, although those were sugar farms. Grape farming was something new, and something of a risk.
But they put the same qualities into their vineyards as they had into training horses and playing polo: perseverance, patience, and a whole lot of passion (it’s an overused word, but anyone who has visited Newstead or met Doug and Sue has felt the genuine love they put in to and enjoyment they get out of what they do).
They grew Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay grapes, and almost immediately won awards for their wines, raising the profile and credibility of the young Plettenberg Bay Winelands. Many of Newstead’s wines have sold out soon after their release, some even before.
Pinot Noir was the last the the three varietals to be ready and it was worth the wait. The first vintage in 2015 sold out (the next release in late 2017 has a waiting list), and the MCC Brut Rosé won a Gran D’or (double gold) Michelangelo.
The Lunds and Newstead wines have been regulars at Kurland over the last decade. At the same time, polo playing friends, families and fans have been great supporters of theirs, visiting the estate for tastings, lunches, picnics in the vineyards, summer solstice parties or bespoke events.
Refreshingly, success hasn’t commercialised or commoditised anything about Newstead. Both the estate and the Lunds are as down to earth, approachable and personal as they were in 2006. Perhaps that’s its truest pedigree.
Moscow Mistress, the almost-also-ran
It’s a story worthy of the big screen, and Hollywood couldn’t have scripted it better.
Moscow Mistress is one of the world’s top polo mares, played by one of the world’s top players, but things could have been very different for her.
The promise was always there: she started out as a racehorse. But she was unsuccessful on the track and was sold to Futa Oxanham in the Eastern Cape, where she was patiently brought on by his son, Ray. A few years later Doug Lund, a former South Africa polo player, visited Addo Polo Club where Moscow, a green horse, caught his eye. He purchased her even though the owner discouraged him, based on Moscow being his son’s pony, and feeling there were better horses available. Doug saw potential, however.
Doug had noticed that Moscow had suffered a muscle tear in the hind quarter from her racing days and sent her for three months of physical therapy before beginning her training program. He spent two years training and playing Moscow, getting her to the top level.
Doug sold Moscow to Tom De Bruin, another former South African international polo player, who took her to England. Tom then sold Moscow to Australian Ruki Baillieu, who later sold her to Zacara patron Lyndon Lea for what was said to be a record price.
Now, seventeen-year-old Moscow is played by Argentinian international star Facundo Pieres. Moscow was flown from England to play in the Argentine Open in November 2016, and is the first South African polo pony ever to play in the Argentine Open, the highest level of polo played in the world.
It’s a story of second chances, an equestrian rags to riches, with a universal theme: sometimes somebody sees something in you that nobody else does, and it changes your life.