Myrna Robins

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Every now and then one attends a function that delivers pleasure way beyond expectation. In this case a few hours spent in the serenely historic surrounds of a 17th century farm in the incomparable Groot Drakenstein valley enfolded us with genteel but warm hospitality. The aura of the past is present at Bellingham - not so much in the gabled farmstead – but in the green and pleasant acres that surround it. This was heightened by the fact that the host – Bellingham winemaker and brand manager Niël Groenewald - is himself a generous and enthusiastic food-and-wine connoisseur enabling the present to entwine seamlessly with the past.

Launches of new wine ranges can take many forms, and here guests were treated both to an informal tasting followed by a buffet of superior Kaapse kos, a menu partly designed to complement the wine. Our tasting involved matching the new Homestead range to piquant rubs and spreads designed to enhance soups, salads, seafood, poultry, red meat – and even dessert. These trendy creations of Niel’s comprise a lemon and fennel salt rub which paired nicely with the sauvignon blanc, a well-balanced meld of Durbanvhille herbaceous and fruit flavours. A delicious coriander and sesame dukkah with Middle Eastern notes was matched to my favourite of the range, the 2015 chardonnay: Sourced from various Stellenbosch vineyards 60% of the wine spent time in oak

Rosemary and elderberry rubbed into red meats call for the 2014 pinotage, to highlight South African favourites like leg of lamb. These grapes were sourced from Stellenbosch and the wine bursts with mixed berry flavours. The 2014 shiraz is an easy-drinking, gently peppered and spiced classic, companion to a smoked rooibos and paprika sprinkle. From Paarl grapes this spice mix is great for slow casseroles and warming bredies.

There’s a chenin blanc as well, which we did not get to taste, and I guess it leans toward the off-dry as Groenewald accompanies it with a moreish honey butter spread, designed as a dessert topping or salad dressing ingredient.

The Bellingham farmhouse has been altered so much over the centuries that Hans Fransen and Mary Cook simply state that the gable, dated 1777, is modern, though the farm was originally granted to one Gerrit van Vuuren in 1695. Following many owners, the renowned Podlashuk couple bought the property some 250 years later, acquiring a rundown farm, which they set about making very much their own. Having added on rooms at odd angles and various levels, visitors today enter into something of a maze, with interior décor that mingles beautiful antiques with kitsch, exotic eccentricity with the rare and lovely, all in happy abandon.

This fascinating couple were not just famous for their lavish hospitality, but also responsible for developing orchards and vineyards, with Bernard making the first dry rosé in South Africa, followed by our first premier grand cru, or dry white - unknown at that time. The Bellingham shiraz, launched in 1957 was yet another first in the Cape industry.

The new range, priced at R65 for white and R75 for the reds and available from the Franschhoek Cellar in the town mirrors the entertaining memories of the mid 20th century, offering unpretentious wines that can be opened and shared with friends and family .

We took home a little manuscript of Bellingham family recipes in a leather folder, some history preceding tried and trusted recipes from Niël and friends and others dating back to Fredah Podlashuk ‘s dinner parties. It’s a charming heritage collection and one that suggests that a bigger cookbook could offer a treasury of Bellingham culinary bounty. Just one word of advice: today’s cooks need their ingredients listed in order of use!

Now, I just need to get hold of that missing chenin blanc , before I have emptied the pot of honey butter spread… When I inquired earlier today, it had still not arrived at the outlet in Franschhoek.

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Posted by on in Events






A chance to sip and savour the current and older vintages of these three boutique wine farms in the magnificent Upper-Blaauwklippen valley is a weekend treat not to be missed.

Kleinood, Keermont and De Trafford are joining forces on Saturday June 04 to present a selection of their rare and outstanding wines from 10am - 3pm. Canapes will provide sustenance at all three farms, and a shuttle service between them is also offered.

Outstanding wines, appealing farms and a magnificent setting - Boland bounty at its best.

The event costs R350 a head.

Take N2 from Cape Town.
* Take Baden Powell turn off to the left.
* Follow to traffic lights at big strawberry on the left.
* Turn right on to the Annandale road.
* Follow Annandale road to the traffic lights.
* Turn left at the traffic lights onto the R44 towards Stellenbosch.
* Follow to traffic lights with Engen and La Romantica Restaurant
* Turn right here into Blaauwklippen road.
* Follow the Blaauwklippen road, cross the bridge.
* Turn left at upper Blaauwklippen road sign.
* Do not go straight ahead onto the gravel road.
* Pass through the boom and follow narrow road with speed bumps to the three wineries.

Book through or, for more info, contact any one of the three farms.

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At its zenith? As Zevenwacht wines sparkle, the farm plans a new attraction and re-invigorates existing venues.


Let’s start with Zevenwacht wines: Not only has the the number of ranges expanded over the decades, but the quality has zoomed up to match. Winemaker Jacques Viljoen is talented, dedicated, yet relaxed, a proven combination as he crafts the easy-drinking 7even wines and the impressive Z collection which includes a highly-rated 2014 Gewurztraminer and the star of the show, the 2014 360 deg sauvignon blanc, a single vineyard winner that attracted gold at two prestigious international contests, the IWC 2015 and the 2016 Concours Mondial du sauvignon.

Then there is the Flagship range, half a dozen quality, enjoyable labels ranging in price from R70 to R89. The chenin is delicious, a great partner for autumn and outdoor fare while the 2014 chardonnay is a four-star classic. The 2015 sauvignon blanc presents fresh green and fruity flavours backed by a pleasing mineral core.

Two delightful wines make up the Tin Mine range – the White and the Red. Both are fine blends that offer exceptionally good value. The white, a firm favourite of mine, is a blend s 45% chardonnay with 31% chenin, 19% viognier, finished with roussanne. It’s lightly wooded, offering discernible minerality alongside fruit and freshness. The Tin Mine red 2013 is shiraz-led with a good dollop of grenache and 15% mourvèdre, a generous, approachable wine that embraces class, length and ageability.

Turning to the hospitality sector, visitors can choose from the comfort of the suites of the Country Inn, or settle for one of the Vineyard cottages. I enjoy the former, where you park your car within a metre of your front door, settle into a spacious air-conditioned room, then open the doors to the terrace. If it’s a clear day the views stretch from False bay to Table bay, with the panorama of the so-called northern suburbs far below.

For groups of visitors, the Chalet is a magnificent choice, a self-catering four-suite house high up on the Bottelary hillside, with panoramic views encompassing cityscape, wineland and mountain backdrop.

The best vista of all is kept for the Spa, a hilltop venue that will be re-opening in August under new operators and renamed Bakwena. There is a chance that these premises may, once again, be available for private function hire.

The charming, compact farmstead, with its 1800 gable, gazes over water ringed by trees, some of which are spectacular in autumn shades right now. This houses the restaurant, open every day for a la carte meals and a buffet breakfast. The farm is perhaps even more famous for its picnics, where diners have a choice of baskets filled with meaty or vegetarian picnic fare, or braai fare and a children’s basket.

An old farm building is being renovated and fitted out as a demo kitchen. Come November this rustic venue will open its doors to visitors for cooking demos in fine Gallic style. Master chef Sidney Bond and his wife Alison, a renowned pastry chef will present hands-on French cooking classes for a few months of the year, between their hectic schedule of hosting Britons, Americans and others to French and African cookery classes at their lovely home in the Loire valley. See And watch for further announcements!

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It was the first pinotage rosé in South Africa and this year marks its 40th birthday. Delheim deserves accolades for many achievements, and is also regularly quick off the mark when it comes to good marketing, never missing an opportunity to remind its fans that this mountainside Stellenbosch farm is “worth the journey.”

The 2016 just-released pink sports a new cleaner label plus its 1976-2016 anniversary sticker. Low alcohol levels of 12,5% make this an inviting autumn tipple with a dash of muscat adding floral sweetness to the berry flavours. There’s enough acidity to present crispness and, like its predecessors makes an undemanding mate for a wide range of fare from picnic lunches to mild Cape Malay curries. It sells for around R60.

Looking ahead to June and July, Delheim has announced the programme for its annual Forage for Fungi events, while adding a cautionary note that the current drought may well reduce the number of mushrooms available to visitors. The good news is that their pine forest was the only one that was saved during the disastrous fire of January, so that the source of blusher, porcini, boletus and pine ring mushrooms lives on.

Nora Sperling-Thiel and field expert Gary Goldman will lead the excursions, while offering important guidelines and pointers as to which funghi are safe. After their forest hunt, gatherers will enjoy a mushroom-inspired lunch in the farm restaurant, along with a bottle of wine to take home. The day starts in the vat cellar at 10am for a talk on mushroom identification.

Tickets cost R650 a head and advance booking is essential, and no group bookings are taken. Book through Computicket.

The dates are June 16 and 17 and July 1 and 2. For more info, email or contact 021 888 4607.

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Easter weekend and April wine and food events are competing for attention as autumn adds colour to vineyards and brings mellow days to the winelands.



This popular monthly event takes place on Easter Sunday, March 27, from 10am to 3pm. As usual artisanal foods, arts and crafts, homeware and the farms wines will be on sale. Breads, cheese, mushrooms, charcuteries, sauces olive oils and craft beers from Darling Brew add up to a tempting mix.Groote Post’s award-winning restaurant, Hilda’s Kitchen, will be open as usual, but booking is essential. Although pets are welcome – all dogs must be on a leash at all times. For further informationcontact:        Eldré Strydom: 082 877 6677 or



DINING:                               Three course set lunch

                                                A la carte children’s menu

COST:                                    R380 per person.

Booking essential.

VENUE:                                Webersburg Wine Estate

ENTERTAIMENT:               Live band performance

                                                Jumping Castle, Easter Bunny, Easter Egg Hunt, Duck feeding

A second option of a gourmet picnic basket for two at R450 plus a bottle of estate wines is also available, ;plus options of children's and vegetarian menus.

CONTACT:                           (021) 881 3636;

A  Gallic treat awaits

The 2006 vintage of Dom rignon will be launched in South Africa in fine style: On April 6 in Johannesburg and April 8 in Cape Town, Wine Cellar will host exclusive celebrations at The Westcliff and at Ellerman House where representatives of this fine champagne will present the new vintage, considered  the best since 1966. Limited to 24 guests each, walk-around tastings will enable them to sample the '06 alongside the previous two vintages, along with a vintage rose and the re-relased P2, Dom Pérignon 1998 Second Plenitude. Perfectly paired canapes will accompany.

Tickets cost R2 500. Book online at




The hugely popular annual Biltong and Pinotage fest takes place on Saturday and Sunday April 16-17 at L’Avenir estate outside Stellenbosch, from 11am. As well as indulging in a favourite occupation, the Anna Foundation will be there to entertain young visitors and raise funds for their worthwhile charity. While various biltongs will be on hand – such as smoky sweet chilli, spicy BBQ, sweet red pepper and more to be paired with some top Cape pinotages, guests can choose alternative wines, such pinotage rosés, bubblies, blends and even a white pinotage. Follow with lunch  under the trees or on the cellar lawns. No less than 18 wineries are taking part, being Altydgedacht, Anura Vineyards, Badsberg Wine Cellar, Beyerskloof Wines, Boland Cellar, Chamonix, Diemersdal Wine Estate, Diemersfontein Wines, Flagstone Winery, Kaapzicht Estate, Lanzerac Wine Estate, L’Avenir Wines, Mellasat Vineyards, Perdeberg Wines, Remhoogte Wine Estate, Rhebokskloof, Rijk’s Private Cellar, Tulbagh Winery.

Tickets @ R150 pp includes a wine glass and a pairing card for the Pinotage and Biltong tastings. Bookings at and selected Joubert and Monty outlets from 1 March 2016. Visit J&M’s Facebook page to find the outlet closest to you.



Sunday lunch in the beautiful Bottelary Hills

The first of three Pop Up lunches in the Bottelary Hills region takes place at Hartenberg on Sunday April 17 when chef Bertus Basson will cook over an open fire to create a contemporary gourmet meal. b2ap3_thumbnail_BHills-3.jpgCharred food is in vogue, and Basson is a master of the grill and will celebrate lamb in different guises. The three-course meal, with wine costs R350 a head, lincluding winetasting beforehand . Booking is essential. Book through or call 021 886 8275.


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