In 1983 Gyles Webb and his wife’s family bought a run-down fruit farm situated about 6 kms outside Stellenbosch on the southern slopes of the Simonsberg mountain. There were no vines on the property at the time of purchase so the slow process of turning the property into a wine farm began, with the removal of the old plum and pear orchards and the clearing of virgin mountainside land. Meticulous attention to detail in the vineyards has paid off, as Thelema was, for three years running, adjudged to have the best vineyards in the Stellenbosch region and remains a benchmark for viticultural excellence in South Africa.
Since then 50 hectares of vineyards have been planted, including Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Riesling, Muscat de Frontignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz. From the very early days the property has enjoyed considerable success – Gyles Webb won the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year award in 1994 and 1996 for Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 1992 and Cabernet Sauvignon 1994. For three years in a row Thelema Chardonnay was voted best white wine at the prestigious South African Airways wine selections, and for two years in a row Thelema red wines were voted top red wine. The Wine Spectator has twice listed Thelema in the Top 100 wines of the World and at the annual Cape Winemakers Guild auction Thelema regularly fetches amongst the top prices of all the wines on auction.
Current production is around 40,000 cases per annum. Gyles Webb is responsible for production, and he has assistance from Rudi Schultz in the cellar, and Conrad Schutte and Werner Schultz in the vineyards.