Almost R500 000 crowdfunded in just a couple of days after devastating Greyton Wildfire destroys Lismore Wine Farm.
Western Cape, South Africa – On the 17 December 2019, a devastating wildfire destroyed Lismore Wine Farm in Greyton, Western Cape – the home and livelihood of well-known pioneering farmer and winemaker, Samantha O’Keefe (48) and her two children, Quinn (14) and Keenan (16).
Tucked into the foothills of a dramatic mountain range at the bottom of Africa is Lismore Estate Vineyards. Californian Samantha O’Keefe found paradise and the perfect terroir in the Western Cape. Her passion combined with vines planted at 300 meters, chilled by the winter snow and nourished by the African summer sun, produce classic cool climate wines which are rich, complex and lovingly handcrafted.
According to Overberg fire chief, Reinard Geldenhuys, the fire which started in the nearby nature reserve and initially posed no threat to the Wine Farm is believed to have been started by children with malicious intent. Unexpectedly the fire moved over to the vineyard, and in no less than 30 minutes, the blaze had destroyed Sam’s homestead, cellar and everything she had built over the last 17 years.
In an act of bravery, Sam drove into the blaze, hoping to rescue her farmworkers and animals. Unfortunately, two cats and one dog didn’t survive the fires, but mercifully, all staff members made it to safety.
Friends and family have travelled far and wide to count the losses and console the O’Keefe family during this difficult time and to help Sam cover some of her immediate financial commitments. A crowdfunding campaign was launched to support her in the rebuilding of Lismore Wine farm, re-planting the vineyards, re-building the family home and helping rebuild the winemaking facilities.
“After countless setbacks and immense challenges, this wonderful woman has overcome. Sam even recently became the sixth woman to be inducted into the prestigious Cape Winemakers Guild. She has given her past and her future to build her dream” – says friend and campaign creator, Floh Thiele.
“Let’s hold hands and unite to help Sam rebuild her home, her farm, her life and everything else, which brought so much joy to enthusiastic fans of her magnificent wines. We appeal to anyone who has ever come in contact with this incredibly courageous and inspiring woman to reach out!”
The campaign went live on the 18 December 2019, and in less than 24 hours, over R224 000 had been raised towards the fundraising target which climbed to over R400 000 in a matter of days!
While Sam is distraught by the tragedy, she remains hopeful that Lismore will be returned to its former glory. The family are humbled and overwhelmed by the generous support they have received from the Greyton community, previous patrons, as well as friends and strangers from South Africa and all over the world.
“We have experienced a tragedy like nothing we could have ever imagined. Thank you for the outpouring of love and support from the South African wine industry and everyone around the globe. Our hearts are broken, our home and my precious cellar are reduced to ashes, but it seems some of our vines are as tough as we are and may survive it all. All of our bottled stock was stored off-site in Stellenbosch. I can assure everyone that Lismore wines remain available to the market. With the generous offers of cellar space, I will produce a 2020 vintage and will rebuild. I have not been able to reply to the hundreds of messages of love and support that have been sent to me, but please know that I have read every one of them. I am in shock and completely overwhelmed with the incredible emotion that every one of you has shared with me. I can’t thank you enough.”
To make a donation to help rebuild Lismore, visit BackaBuddy by clicking here.