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Subaru Seven Sisters

The star cluster Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters, is incorporated in the six-star logo of the Japanese manufacturer, Subaru. So, it was befitting to visit the Seven Sisters Vineyards close to Stellenbosch, belonging to the Brutus sisters of Paternoster, with the latest top-model

Subaru Seven Sisters

The star cluster Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters, is incorporated in the six-star logo of the Japanese manufacturer, Subaru. So, it was befitting to visit the Seven Sisters Vineyards close to Stellenbosch, belonging to the Brutus sisters of Paternoster, with the latest top-model Forester.

The name of the Pleiades probably derives from the term **plein** (to sail) in ancient Greek due to the importance of the star cluster in delimiting the sailing season in the Mediterranean Sea. However, in Greek mythology the name was used for the Pleiads, seven divine sisters and the daughters of Atlas, the Titan who held up the sky and the oceanid Pleione, protectress of sailing.


Pleiades was supposedly derived from Pleione, meaning “daughters of Pleione” but most probably the name of the star cluster came first, with Pleione invented later to explain it. Interestingly, in Japan the constellation is mentioned under the name Mutsuraboshi (six stars, as the seventh, according to tradition, is invisible) and is now known as Subaru.


The meaning of Subaru is “coming together” or cluster in Japanese, and the logo of the vehicle manufacturer incorporates six stars to represent the five corporations which, between 1953 and 1955, merged to form Fuji Heavy Industries, owner of the Subaru brand.

Subaru’s first six-star logo

The Pleaid sisters – in mythology sometimes also described as nymphs in the train of Artemis – were Maia, Electra, Alcyone, Taygete, Asterope, Celaeno, and Merope. But on a sunny autumn morning (just before the Covid-19 lockdown) we made our way to Welmoed Road in Lynedoch, just off Annandale Road, to meet the Brutus sisters; Vivian, Dawn, June, Carol, Yolanda, Twena, and Odelia.

Well, not all of them. Due to the eminent lockdown only three could meet us at the wine farm. No matter, though, as Vivian Kleynhans – the real driving force behind the Seven Sisters wine brand – was to be on hand to share the tumultuous, yet inspiring story of the Brutus family with us.


Five-star Forester

Originally conceived as a crossover version of the Impreza to compete in the burgeoning compact SUV category, the Subaru Forester has matured and grown in stature with every passing generation. The all-new Subaru Forester has recently been named the safest and “Best in Class Car of 2019” in the small off-road/small MPV class by the Euro NCAP safety organisation – in part due to its standard EyeSight driver assist safety system.


The Forester, now in its fifth incarnation, has played a pivotal role in establishing the brand with the Pleiades logo in Southern Africa, and after more than two decades, it is still the most popular and successful Subaru model in the region. For our trip to Seven Sisters Vineyards we received a high-spec 2.0i-S ES CVT version, courtesy of Subaru Somerset-West.


Ideally, we would have preferred a 2.5-litre model – set for local release in September this year – but due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, this model is now only expected here in the first quarter of next year. Even so, the 2-litre, with a four-cylinder Boxer engine delivering 115 kW and 196 Nm, was a pleasant companion en route to Stellenbosch.

The powertrain, with a lighter, more efficient Lineartronic CVT and Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system impressed with its relaxed, laidback feel and the smoothness of the ride was again notable, as well as the Outback-like dimensions and space inside the cabin.


From Annandale Road we turned off onto Welmoed Road and followed the rutty track towards the white gate signposted Seven Sister Vineyards and logo portraying seven dancing women, inspired by the painting **The Pleiades** by 19th century Symbolist painter Elihu Vedder.


The Brutus family

The tumultuous tale of the Brutus family commences in the West Coast hamlet of Paternoster. It tells the encouraging and heart-warming story of a family who overcame numerous setbacks and hardship to emerge as trailblazers and pioneers in the highly competitive South African wine industry.


After their father lost his job at a fishing company in Paternoster, the family was evicted from the factory house they lived in and in order for all the children (seven sisters and a baby brother) to survive, the siblings were forced to split up and live with different relatives. They were reunited only twenty years later, and then started working towards realising a vision to establish their own wine company and wine brands.


Vivian Kleynhans has been central to this vision and the motivating force behind the company. While showing us around the estate with her sisters Yolanda and Odelia in attendance, she tells us she launched her first wine business in 2003.


“All my life I wanted to own and operate my own business and I found the wine industry really interesting.” She established a company but things did not go well and the business failed. Instead of giving up, however, she turned to her sisters for support and inspiration, telling them about her dream.


“They thought I had gone crazy,” she remembers, “but they nevertheless supported me.” Vivian enrolled in a wine management course and attended classes during the day, while in the evenings doing wine-tasting courses at the Cape Wine Academy.


Seven wines for seven sisters

In 2005 she established the African Roots Wine Brands company and the self-taught wine entrepreneur started developing her first line of products, matching the different varietals to the personality of one of her sisters … Working with the Institute of Masters of Wine, a taste and aroma worthy of every sister was chosen – and so the Seven Sisters line was born.


Each of the wines represents the personality of one of the sisters; Vivian (Sauvignon Blanc), Dawn (Pinotage/Shiraz), June (Merlot), Carol (Cabernet Sauvignon), Yolanda (Moscato), Twena (Rosé), and Odelia (Bukettraube).

As the Brutus family enterprise started to grow, a chance meeting with an American woman, Selena Cuffe, led to a contract for overseas distribution. Seven Sisters wines were exported to the United States and by selling through retailers, including Walmart, it has opened doors to the private labelling of their wines ’States side.


According to Vivian, the evolvement of the business has changed the perspective of people on the wine industry. She has trailblazed change and has dedicated the last decade of her life working for equality and transformation in the industry. In 2016, a significant milestone was achieved when they launched their first premium wines, including a Chardonnay, a Shiraz, and a Bordeaux Blend, made from grapes from their own vineyards.


Much like the Forester has over the past two decades contributed to building the Pleaides brand in South Africa, the “Seven Sisters” wine brand – started 15 years ago by the sisters in a quest to change their destiny – has built a lasting legacy for the Brutus family.


A fitting tribute to the Pleiads and divine sisterhood indeed.

Our vehicle: Subaru Forester 2.0i-S ES CVT

Engine:                                  Boxer, four-cylinder, direct injection petrol

Displacement:                         1 995 cc

Maximum power:                    115 kW @ 6 000 rpm

Maximum torque:                    196 Nm @ 4 000 rpm

Transmission:                         CVT, AWD system with X-modes

Luggage space:                       520 ℓ

Ground clearance:                   220 mm

Consumption:                         7.6 ℓ/100 km (claimed by manufacturer)

CO2 emissions:                       176 g/km

Base price:                             R540 000

We like      

Spaciousness, classy interior, smooth driving experience, luggage space, off-road capability


We do not like

Engine laidback in performance, CVT is smooth but uninspiring, vehicle getting too big


RoadTrip rating: 84%



Destination: Seven Sister Vineyards

Address: Welmoed Road, off Annandale Road, Lynedoch

Tel: +27 60 696 9814

Email: bookings@sevensisters.co.za

Website: www.sevensisters.co.za