This article is a case study of the political economy of the Western Cape Winelands c.1900. The analysis covers three intertwined processes that were crucial for the advance of a capitalist mode of production: the making of capital, the making of a commodity market, and the making of a labouring class. The making of capital was achieved after the mid-1800s. However, even at the end of the century, the market for Cape wines and the making of a labouring class remained obstacles to the advance of capitalism. Some wealthy farm owners, though, were about to overcome these obstacles. A small group of them were of old Afrikaner origin, while others, mostly investor capitalists of British origin, were quite successful in establishing a capitalist mode of production on their wine farms. In particular, drawing on a vast array of primary sources, we discuss the many labour recruitment programmes that were organized as private and state initiatives.