On the 17 December 2019, a devastating wildfire destroyed Lismore Winefarm 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).
The fire which started in the nearby nature reserve and initially posed no threat to Lismore is believed to have been started by children with malicious intent according to Overberg fire chief, Reinard Geldenhuys.
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 fortunately, 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.
To help Sam cover some of her immediate financial commitments and support her in the rebuilding of Lismore Winefarm, re-planting the vineyards, re-building the family home and winemaking facilities, a crowdfunding campaign has launched on BackaBuddy.
The campaign went live on the 18 December 2019, and in less than 24 hours, over R224 000 has been raised towards the fundraising target of R500 000 with contributions from 130 donors both locally and abroad.
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.
“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.