Magnificent Tagliapietra


The famous words of Isak Dinesen “ I had a farm in Africa” fit easily into the story of Glenelly’s Madame May De Lencquesaing who can truly say, using the present tense,“ I have a wine farm in Africa, “ and say it with the style and aplomb which she has in abundance.

Born into an old Bordeaux family, one would expect Madame May to be aristocratic and somewhat aloof, but this is definitely not the case, as one finds when meeting her

Her family, one of the oldest in Bordeaux, owned the famous Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. It was there she established her first Glass Museum which remains as a major attraction to anyone who visits. In 2003 she bought land in SA and embarked on a major project to make Glenelly one of the finest wine farms in the country.

Precious light

She says the role that light plays is all important both in wine and glass. The passage of light through magnificent glass can uplift the spirit as in the great stained glass windows in Europe, specifically in the magnificent cathedrals of her home country France. Opaque glass reflects light in the most magnificent way as can be seen in some of the extraordinary pieces at Glenelly.  The collection is laid out in a very accessible manner and there are guided tours available if you would prefer. She says of the way the collection keeps growing “ I have been in the glass business 50 years. I know all the important artists in glass. I go to their studios and know them personally. They come here to Glenelly and visit. “

Spend hours admiring these treasures

Some of the earliest examples of glass from Pre Roman times, from Mesopotamia, Egypt and Lebanon lead one to others from the Roman period when glass making became more accessible.  There are the most interesting guide notes at the gallery which make clear the periods of history from which the pieces come. Cabinets contain transparent glass with fine engravings, some with golden rims, and some brightly coloured. European decanters, drinking vessels, and pouring jars from the17th, 18th, and 19th centuries dazzle the eye. On the stands are brilliant pieces from some modern masters like Bertil Vallien, Dante Marioni, and Salvador Dali, whose stylised crucifix is a recent acquisition.  Other glass cabinets contain some of the best examples from Lalique, Murano, Kosta Boda, and Baccarat. Room 2 features a collection of Woodstock glass –the first glass to be made in SA. The rest of the room is devoted to pieces from the 19th and 20th centuries in France and the USA, Art Nouveau and Art Deco, beginning around 1860—Tiffany, Daum, Galle and Nancy –to 1940. These pieces are mainly decorated with flowers, birds, and landscapes using rich colours and different techniques—real works of art. Also to be seen—well you could hardly miss it—is a masterpiece, a spectacular teardrop vase, brilliantly coloured by Italian Glassblower Master Lino Tagliapietra.


How lucky are we to have such a magnificent collection of glass—one of the finest in the world—chosen with an unerring eye by a passionate lady who really knows what she is doing when an interest takes hold of her. Glenelly also has an excellent restaurant and fabulous wines but more of that next week.