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There are very few who do not enjoy riding the rails and many who claim that train  is by far the best way to travel. The experience of rattling along in carriages, especially when pulled by a proper steam engine, is an experience both unique and nostalgic, so that many visitors, local and international, mourned the passing of rail transport to Franschhoek.

The station, however, stayed intact and was maintained , not like other forlorn deserted stations across the South African platteland. Occasionally trips were organised to farms along the line – I remember one, in particular, a splendid journey to Bellingham to mark, I think, both a wine launch and the restoration of the old farmstead.

When doing research for my Franschhoek Food cookbook nearly a decade ago, there was talk of reviving the rail link shared by several farms along the R45 – while nothing has come of that  there was great excitement some five years ago when the Franschhoek Wine Tram service was launched, taking guests on a short journey on rails in a 32-seater open-sided tram which stopped at two wine estates in the village. Brainchild of the Blyth family, who no doubt spent many frustrating hours dealing with the logistics of their venture, from bureaucracy downwards, their vision and persistence are worthy of thunderous applause!

The tram proved to be an instant success, offering local and international visitors a fun way to travel that was adventurous, but less hazardous than tasting wine on horseback.

Earlier this month, the Blyth family and GM Brett Garner hosted officials,  media and  visitors to the new Franschhoek Wine Tram Double Deck trams, at Groot Drakenstein station. The service now embraces some 22 wine farms, spanning the valley’s wine route. Travellers can spend between 30 and 60 minutes on board as part of a full day R220 wine tour which extends as far as Vrede en Lust in Simondium.

From the wine tram website, we learn that a combo of tram and tram-bus transports passengers around a loop of stops. They can choose to hop on and hop off for wine tastings, cellar tours, lunch or just stroll through the vineyards.There are six hop-on hop-off routes to choose from, each visiting eight wine estates in different parts of the beauteous valley, while a narrative covers the history of the valley and its wine.



As Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde remarked   in his launch address, this new expanded service will allow more than 120 000 guests to enjoy the trip in the current tourist season.

Just another good reason to make sure that the stupendous Franschhoek valley is on every traveller’s must-do itinerary this summer and autumn.

See  For more information  call Brett Garner on 27(0)83  260 0453.

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Italians always manage to add romance to whatever they do, and that includes winemaking. Attilio and Michela Dalpiaz of Ayama in the Voor-Paardeberg are no exceptions, having injected great appeal into their historic farm and fine wines that they produce on the lower slopes of the Paardeberg, itself a mountain that inspires beguiling stories.

Now they have added a South African first with the release of their maiden Vermentino, a limited edition of 1 500 litres, set to be sold by auction that will benefit a local farm school..

Vermentino is a wine with a long history, originally a Spanish cultlivar that made its way to Italy early last century where it was adopted with enthusiasm and much success, both on the mainland and on Sardinia  - where it was elevated to DOCG status in 1997 It produces a medium to full-bodied wine,  that sometimes offers flavours one would expect in a rosé.

It took the couple six years to import their Vermentino vines, get quarantine approval, and finally plant one hectare in 2014. The patterns on the label were inspired by those made by the must during fermentation, the result, Michela claims, of the classical music that serenaded the wine in the cellar at this state.


To mark the release of this special wine, a single vintage auction, both local and online, will take place on Youth Day, June 16 at the Roodebloem studios in Woodstock. The venue, a decommissioned historic church reminds one of many similar sites in Italy where beautiful churches also fulfil other roles – such as the world launch of Slow Food a couple of decades ago...


Perdjie school consists of a creche and after-school project started by Ayama and neighbouring farm Scali in the Voor-Paardeberg a few years ago. Close to 40 youngsters, children of farm workers, are cared for daily. Transport is difficult, and it is hoped to raise money to buy a school bus.

Ayama will donate all profits from proceeds of the Vermentino auction to this worthy cause, an apposite one for a Youth Day event.

See for more info.


There are just 40 seats reserved for members of the public who would like to attend this event. They cost R300, but readers who contact Ayama directly, identifying themselves as readers of this blog, can claim R100 discount, paying just R200 for their ticket. Either send an e-mail to or call 021 869 8313.




 After the bidding closes guests will be served drinks and canapés . Seats can also be booked  through


A new Mediterranean varietal to add to others being introduced to Cape vineyards is always a welcome achievement, and one presumes that Vermentino will be water-wise as well to suit our declining water reserves. Those who wish to bid online need to access the website


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Tagged in: Events Wine wine news

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Say farewell to April with a fun family day at the last Groote Post Country Market of the season. Taking place from 10am to 3pm on Sunday April 30, it also marks the final day of a spate of long weekends, so make the most of it!

As usual the local cooks and crafters, butchers and produce growers  will be out in force with country fare, from organic mushrooms to olive oil, pomegranate juice to handmade confectionery, west coast wors to artisanal beer. All ready to be savoured, of course, with Groote Post well-loved wines.

Children are well catered for, there’s live music and those who prefer a sit-down lunch should book for Hilda’s Kitchen. This is also one of the few markets where dogs are welcome, on a lead. The following market takes place at the end of August. For more info, contact Dave Coleshill on 076 834 8085 or email him on



Elgin Cool Wine & Country Food Festival



This annual autumn fest takes place over the weekend of April 29 – 30 from 10am to 5pm on both days. Winelovers are in for a treat of fine Overberg wines, delicious food, entertainment and many outdoor activities. Those taking part are Almenkerk Wine Estate, Arumdale, Belfield, Charles Fox Wines, Corder Family Wines, Elgin Ridge, Elgin Vintners, Hannay Wines, Highlands Road Wines, Iona, Oak Valley, Oneiric Wine Estate, Paul Cluver Wines, Paul Wallace Wines, Robin Hood Legendary Wines, Shannon Vineyards and South Hill Vineyards each offering their own attractions, which erange from live music to art exhibitions. Lunch menus will vary as well, including picnics, American smokehouse barbecues, food trucks and more. Tickets cost R140 pp from and include tasting glass, programme, access, tasting of three wines from any estate. They need to be collected from Peregrine Farmstall before setting out to the farms. Children under the age of 18 go in free of charge with adults. Visit for more info.


Shiraz & Charcuterie at Anthonij Rupert



Looking ahead to Saturday May 27 the annual Shiraz & Charcuterie celebration takes place at Anthonij Rupert Wyne at Franschhoek, starting at noon.Along with the hosts three shiraz, Rust en Vrede, Waterford, Mullineux and Leeu, Hartenberg, Simonsig and Thelema are taking part.The wines can be relished with hearty dishes, including French onion soup, homemade saucisson and cannelloni beans, while the olive bar has plenty to spark the tastebuds. Tickets cost R220 from and pre-booking is essential. For more email

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It’s not only brinjals that have three names, I discovered recently, witlof can boast of four – as this intriguing head of tight creamy leaves is also known as chicory, witloof and Belgian endive.

Appropriately, we were gathered at Den Anker, that classic Belgian restaurant at b2ap3_thumbnail_Fanie-van-der-Merwe-standing_20170207-153515_1.jpgthe Waterfront, for the launch of this healthy addition to our summer diets. The media turnout was impressive, and Brian Berkman looked pleased. Farmer and producer Fanie van der Merwe of Bronaar, one of the oldest farms in the Koue Bokkeveld, was more than happy to tell us the secrets of this versatile vegetable that has been popular with northern European consumers for some 170 years.

As one of the few South African producesr, and as one who guarantees a continuous supply 12 months of the year, Farmer Fanie imports the little seeds from Holland at great expense, plants them  outside in the spring, and harvests in the autumn when the plant has developed a large tap root, similar to a parsnip. This is cleaned and refrigerated. The next stage is carried out in the dark, to avoid the development of chlorophyll. The roots are planted in soil-free hydroponics and the head of creamy leaves develops over three weeks, after which the chicons ( leaves) are harvested.

The endives are packaged 2 – 3 to a see-through bag and are available at several supermarkets.

We enjoyed a starter of tiny shrimps paired with crisp apple, shredded witlof, tomato, moistened with mayonnaise. The mix was served in a witlof or endive leaf, which makes an ideal container for any number of  summery salad ingredients – corn kernels and diced red pepper dressed with lightly chillied olive oil comes to mind. Add diced bacon if you wish.

Chef Doekie Vlietman followed with a seasonal salad geared to vegetarian palates, but enjoyed by all: He combined little balls of chevin, crumbed and deep-fried until crisp, with small wedges of fresh pear, briefly sautéed in butter. Finely chopped endive, baby lettuce and micro greens added crunch to the mixture, and crushed walnuts made a good topping. The composition was drizzled with a little honey and paired with a fruity Belgian beer.  It’s a light luncheon dish to recommend, although I will substitute fresh local pecan nuts for walnuts, (which are imported and often tired and old by the time we use them). A Belgian classic, endives wrapped in Parma ham and baked in a rich cheese sauce made the main course.

Apart from agreeable crunch, endives are delicately flavoured, with just a trace of bitterness to add interest. (The current endives seem to be less bitter than those I remember eating years ago – perhaps catering to modern tastes?) Their attributes are many and music to health- nuts’ ears: Apart from being  low in carbs, the witlof is high in fibre, and contains folate or B9, some vitamin C, and is also a source of thiamin, potassium, calcium , magnesium, vitamins B6 and C. There’s more – its both an appetite stimulant and a digestive aid.

Little wonder the Belgians call it their “white gold.”

Also easy to understand why Fanie would like all South Africans, whether health-conscious, slimmers, vegans or vegetarians, - and all those who aim to make 2017 the year they change their diets for the better – to look out for these packs of crisp goodness to relish raw, sautéed and baked. Autumn means picnic season in South Africa – and it would be difficult to find a better edible container for your finger fare.

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A couple of weather gurus have predicted an early autumn here on the fringe of the Klein Karoo. Whether this will extend to the Boland and Overberg, who knows? But if it does, it makes visiting these wine regions all the more inviting. There's a Gauteng fest in the lineup as well.


Diarise Saturday Feb 18 for a feast of fun at one of our most iconic estates. Join the Melck family at Muratie for a day that can be as active (mountain biking, stomping grapes) or leisurely as you wish. Taste the Muratie wines in the old cellar, or enjoy a private tasting at 12 noon. Settle for an alfresco lunch from the Farm Kitchen that includes gourmet burgers, salmon sarmies, spring rolls, a cheese platter and more. Kitchen Jammin Blues will provide the musical background. Entry costs R75 a head.

For further information and bookings contact Jean-Mari Reyneke at Muratie on 021 865 2330/2336 or



Savour the spirit of the Gin & Tonic Festival




Sunday February 26 sees the  Gin & Tonic Festival return to Cape Town showcasing over 15 local and international gin distilleries at The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. Taste, swirl and celebrate!

Visitors can look forward to festival regulars such as Bloedlemoen, Ginifer, Hope on Hopkins, Inverroche, New Harbour, Wilderer and a host of exciting new players in the local market. Internationally revered brands like The Botanist, Sipsmith and Elephant Gin will also showcase their craft, 

Some of the city’s finest food trucks and gourmet street food chefs will offer gastronomic goodness to festivalgoers. In addition, a summer-inspired designer’s market will feature the brightest in locally made fashion, lifestyle and accessory goods.  Local artists will entertain the crowds at dedicated music stages. Guests
will receive a 16 page gin booklet, a host of promotional vouchers and goodies from our festival partners, and a branded Gin and Tonic Festival glass.

 Join The Gin Revolution:  visit the website:

Book your tickets:






b2ap3_thumbnail_Lanzerac-CoconutGrapeFruitPanaCotta___0197-11-2.jpgChef Fraser's irresistible dessert paired with the estate's bubbly.


These occasional gourmet evenings offer a tasty marriage between the considerable talents of executive chef Stephen Fraser and cellarmaster Wynand Lategan. The first of the 2017 events takes place on Tuesday, March 28 when diners will gather for a welcome drink and canapes on the picnic terrace before visiting the underground cellar to taste new vintages from the barrel. The dinner menu will include a first course of prawn pannacotta and Parma ham mousse, will go on to noisette of lamb, all partnered by new releases from the wine menu along with current favourites like chardonnay and pinotage. Lanzerac's cap classique brut will make a fine finale to complement dessert. This will be an intimate affair of just 30 guests, costs R550  a head, all inclusive, and bookings must be made with Zelda Furstenburg on or by calling 021 886 5641.

Further seasonal dinners are planned for July and September.








The best South African MCCs and French champagnes with food prepared by an award-winning chef is on the menu for Friday March 3 - Saturday March 4 at Brooklyn Mall. Both top Cape bubblies and renowned French houses will present their products while complementary nibbles like oysters, sushi, charcuteries and cheeses will accompany the sparkles, finishing with churros and mini-donuts for finales


Tickets to the VIP event on the Friday are R600 per person and include a welcome glass of bubbly, 20 bubbly tasting coupons and three food coupons, one of which is for dessert.

 Tickets for the event on Saturday, March 4, cost R300 per person and include a complimentary tasting glass and 15 tasting coupons. Food will also be available for purchase at stalls at the venue. Additional vouchers can be purchased on both days.


  Friday, March 3, 2017, from 18h00 to 22h00 & Saturday, March 4, 2017, from 12h00 to 17h00

 Venue: Brooklyn Mall (In a marquee in Bronkhorst Street).




Cluver Family Harvest Day | 1 April 2017








No danger of April Fool jokes popping up at this autumn harvest festival in the heart of the Elgin valley. Paul Cluves Wines makes the venue for this appetising celebration of wine, cider and apples that starts at 11am. 

Leave the car at home and take the train for a memorable day: it will leave Cape Town station at 9am and pick up more passengers at Somerset West,  and on board treats are included.

At the farm children will be supervised and entertained with a programme of old-fashioned games while adults can sample the ciders and wines on offer. Artisanal foods for sale include apple crumble, cheeses, charcuterie  and gourmet sandwiches.


The price structure is as follows:



R250 per person

Children under 18           

R100 per child



Family package 

R550 (2 adults and 2 children)

Return train ticket (excludes festival ticket)

R500 per person (children under 18 travel for free)


 Your festival ticket includes entry, a complimentary tasting glass and a booklet of tasting coupons. The children’s ticket includes entry and a harvest party pack. Food and other beverages available on the day are not included in the ticket price.Pre-booking is essential as tickets are limited. Book directly through  For more details on what you can expect visit




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Harvest has begun in some regions, while grapes are being sampled and assessed in others as cellars get ready for the first influx of the 2017 harvest. Around McGregor the air is not yet filled with the aromas of crushed grapes, but the trail of trucks loaded with peaches that trundle down the main drag seem endless... With the apricot harvest behind us, and the peak of the tomato season just ahead, we have been bottling our 2016 harvest of ripe olives, making pesto, or rather pistou (no nuts) as our basil plants wave in the wind, wafting enticing aromas toward the kitchen. The first batch of ripe fig jam will be bubbling on the stove soon, although keeping birds, large and small, from our crop, is a thankless task.




Durbanville Hills' maiden chenin blanc 2016  arrived just before year end, and its a charmer, Its fresh and lively, fruity and undemanding, yet far from run-of-the-mill. It's the sort of weekday wine that is ideal for those hot January evenings when a well-chilled chenin will precede your salad supper, accompanied by a further glass. The label offers no clue as to the source of the grapes, but cellarmaster Martin Moore told me that he found old chenin vines on various Durbanville farms to make his maiden vintage. So yes, this is Durbanville Hills chenin from Durbanville valley grapes.

 Selling at R55 it should  hold its own with the cellar's several stellar sauvignon blancs, but you may have to hunt for it - its not yet listed on their website or, at time of writing on the Vinoteque site yet. Worth putting on your shopping list.  





By the first weekend of February, winelovers should be ready to don something cool and white and head to Leopards Leap Family vineyards for a late summer celebration. The 2017 Franschhoek Summer Wines takes place on Saturday, 4th February, offering a selection of summery whites, roses, Cap Classiques and light reds all suitable for warm weather sipping. Pair them with fare from the rotisserie kitchen and relax on the verandah or lawns as you drink in the valley panorama. tickets cost R180 and are obtainable from

at R180 per person.  This includes a wine glass and a tasting of all the wines on show between 12pm and 5pm.  

For more info contact the Franschhoek Wine Valley offices on 021 876 2861 or email





Slow Wine weekends in the picturesque village of McGregor offer two days of diverse wines, fine fare that ranges from gourmet to country, and the unique combination of tranquillity, hospitality and a pace that is as leisurely or lively as visitors choose to make it. Add in attractions like spa treatments, a busy pottery, serene art gallery and welcoming donkey sanctuary and the pressure to book for a stress-free weekend increases. Mid-February is traditionally time for romance, so the forthcoming weekend is entitled Bubbles for Lovers. There's a good choice of sparkles and Cap Classiques available in the valley, including one that's organic.

To find out more visit  <>and add a plethora of bubbles to your stay in this timeless village.

Looking ahead to late March, the organisers are putting together a four-day getaway focussing on the harvest in and around the Breede river valley. See  <>





                                   2017 PINOTAGE AND BILTONG FESTIVAL  - ESSENTIAL DIARY DATE!








Indulge in two of SA’s favourite delicacies on Saturday, 22  April and Sunday, 23  April 2017 at the  annual Pinotage & Biltong Festival, which takes place at  L’Avenir Wine Estate just outside Stellenbosch from 11h00-17h00.   

 A wide range of biltong products will be paired with specific wines from some of South Africa’s top Pinotage producers for each tasting. Guests can taste and buy some of the best red Pinotages or have fun with alternatives including rosé’s, bubblies, blends and even a white Pinotage!


The event is family-friendly with live music, food trucks, light meals and casual seating under the trees next to the dam or on the lawns in front of the cellar. The charity beneficiary is Anna Foundation who will be present to entertain the kids and raise funds for their many worthy projects.  Visit for more info.


On 14 and 15 October 2017 it’s the turn of Gauteng fans when the festival will be held at the Leriba Hotel in Centurion, Gauteng as part of the official Pinotage Day celebrations, presented by the Pinotage Association.


Tickets @ R200 pp includes a branded crystal wine glass, a biltong cup and a pairing card for the Free Pinotage and Biltong tastings.  Tickets  at   or from 1 March 2017.


For more info visit  


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Posted by on in Events

This round-up of events first appeared on the front of Life of the Cape Argus on Monday October 17.



Wonderful wine, alfresco feasts and country music are a winning combo. Add a background of some of the most beautiful winelands on the planet, and the temptation is irresistible. A preview of early summer events.

Countrywide tastings of South Africa’s finest wines take place in October and November, while the wine regions of the Western Cape lure visitors with enticing festivals that star a lot more than good wine. Many of them are geared to family entertainment for a weekend of good food, live music and children’s activities, while soft drinks and even craft beer augment the beverage choice. Make time to grab sunhats and baskets and head for your choice of rural delights.

This roundup of fests and events is largely chronological: log onto the relevant websites for more information. Veritas is the largest and longest-running wine contest in South Africa and wine bottles bearing their medal stickers are sought-after by consumers. Take advantage of the line-up of all double gold and gold winners at the Veritas A Taste of the Best event, on October 18 at the CTICC at 5pm. Wine, brandy and Qualité cheeses will be available and tickets cost R140. Veritas will host similar events in Johannesburg (October 25), Durban, (November 10), Port Elizabeth (November 16) and Knysna (November 17 and 18.) Visit or send an e-mail to for details.

Fashion may be fickle but sauvignon blanc remains a firm favourite among winelovers throughout the season. Fans will be in seventh heaven at Durbanville Wine Valley’s Season of Sauvignon over the weekend of October 29 – 30. Offering a total of 12 farms to visit, member cellars not only present their latest sauvignon blanc but will pour the Durbanvaille Twelve 2016, an exciting blend made from combining one ton of sauvignon grapes from all the valley farms. Every producer offers individual attractions along with their wines, which vary in style but share those distinctive Durbanville characteristics. Visit for details. Those who savour history with their wine should not miss out on Altydgedacht, the 17th century original wine farm in the valley. The original ringmuur, slave bell and cellar stand proud, evidence of winemaking across more than three centuries, while the 2016 sauvignon presents a wonderful mix of aromas and flavours – at R75 it’s a bargain buy.

Gauteng is the only province favoured by this year’s organisers of RMB Winex 2016, taking place at the Sandton Convention Centre from October 26 – 28 at 5pm. As always, it offers a feast of over 800 prestigious wines, accompanied by celebrities and winemakers and a programme of launches and tastings. Book through Computicket or pay at the door and visit for list of exhibitors and other information.

POT, or Pinotage- on- Tap needs little introduction to the thousands who lap up coffee-chocolate pinotage. The original source of this popular wine is Diemersfontein farm in Wellington, where the home fest takes place on October 29, serving the new wine straight from barrel, alongside delectable fare and live entertainment. This year music lovers will be treated to a live performance directed by legendary Richard Cock with talented musicians, including the lead singer of Freshly Ground, the Cape Town Brass band, Jazz Trio and Wynberg Boys High steel drum brand. Book through Computicket.

There are many reasons to head south to the wild and lovely Cape Agulhas area, with its salt-laden winds and b2ap3_thumbnail_Elim-wine-fest-2.jpgcool-climate wines of the Elim wine ward. They are marking their 20th birthday with the Elim Wine Festival on November 05, an event worth contemplating by both connoisseurs and consumers eager to meet a bunch of dedicated winemakers who produce elegant, intense wines, some of which are crafted on farms dedicated to the conservation of local flora and fauna. Craft beer will be available, including the products of South Africa’s most southerly brewery while new vintages of Black Oystercatcher, Strandveld and Giant Periwinkle wines will be released. Country fare and farm products will tempt visitors of all ages. The venue is Black Oystercatcher farm. Visit for details.

Stellenbosch remains the Cape’s largest and most famous wine region with the oak-lined streets of the town retaining timeless appeal for locals and travellers. The bi-monthly Stellenbosch Street Soirees or summer parties, which have proved hugely popular, start again on November 16 on Drostdy Street. Wine farms bring their wares to share with that of food vendors, cars are banned, and musicians add live music to the after-work scene. Tickets, which include tasting glass, cost R70, giving access to sampling all wines on show. It’s cool and casual and very Cape. Log on to for more.

As the year winds down, the festive season starts up and the annual Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, or Magic of Bubbles as it is dubbed, is the stylish, sophisticated, and trendy event that mark its arrival.



It’s also the social place to be seen at over the weekend of December 3 – 4 when guests gather in the grand marquee at the Huguenot Monument. This year’s fest, sponsored by Mastercard, sees the bubblies of local producers share space with a selection of imported champagnes from France, while the valley restaurants compete in presenting delicious goodies to partner them. The best-dressed couple on both days wins a generous gift card. Tickets cost R350, the festivities start at 12 noon, and bookings are through

Rickety Bridge is among the wine farms taking part and you may wish to sample their delectable all-chardonnay Blanc de Blancs 2012, just released to great acclaim. It offers all that bubbly lovers want, from a fine mousse, delightful wafts of green apple and buttered toast adding richness to balance crisp freshness, an aperitif that will also partner summer fare with panache.

And then, as the festive season reaches it zenith, Gabrielskloof estate outside Bot River invites weary city folk to head to the Overberg for some hassle-free Christmas shopping at their annual Favourite Things Market taking place from December 16-18. Entrance is free, olives and wine and a range of country produce is on sale, alongside designer jewellery, exquisite quilts, handmade toys and intricate ceramics. Find out more by e-mailing Nicolene at

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New labels, new venue, and one of the best festivals as well !






Van Loveren is such a household name across the length and breadth of South Africa, one that is synonomous with  affordable, easy-drinking, unpretentious wines, that it’s easy to overlook their flagship range of reserve, limited edition,single vineyard wines. Perhaps to counter this, the Retief family have repackaged this top range, Christina, with new labels, starring a cameo of this illustrious ancestor and family matriarch whose bridal chest can be seen in the Van Loveren restaurant at the riverside winery.

Christina van Loveren arrived in South Africa as the 17th century was about to give way to the 18th, one in which Cape wine started to make waves in Europe and the UK, thanks to Groot Constantia. Intrepid travellers like her deserve to be honoured by descendants, and the Retief family do this in style with this heritage range of highly regarded wines.

The non-vintage winning brut makes a great start to any celebration, both traditional and modern, while the four –star sauvignon blanc and the chardonnay are both classy examples of the vinous art: The sauvignon grapes come from Darling, while the delicious chardonnay benefits from a long sojurn in new French oak. Both wonderful summer aperitifs, and there are impressive reds to complement - a fine shiraz, a cabernet and a noble late harvest (from unwooded chenin) to round off the choice.   Its well worth heading down the R317


to the magnificent tasting centre to try before you buy.

This weekend sees the annual Wine on the River take place, starting on Friday October 14 and running through to Sunday. The venue is the Goudmyn farm alongside the Breede river and off the R317, where guests will, as always, savour a relaxed celebration of the wonderful wines of the broad Robertson valley, along with loads of fine fare and other attractions.

I have just read that the Van Loveren’s latest venue, the Four Cousins tasting centre and eaterie, which has risen from the former site of Branewynsdraai at the entrance to Robertson, is open – just in time for the festival.

So there will be no less than three venues where winelovers can sample the wares of Van Loveren Family Vineyards this weekend – - but note that if you want to taste the stellar Christina wines, you will have to visit the Van Loveren winery – which is almost next door to the entrance to Wine on the River.

See you there or visit






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Franschhoek Uncorked Festival


Celebrate SA heritage over a glass or two of Franschhoek wines, and pair them  with delicious food cooked over an open flame during the Franschhoek Uncorked festival and  Braai4Heritage weekend, September 24 - 5.

Visitors can meander from farm to farm where festival offerings abound. Avoid the queues and pre-book your Uncorked Weekend Pass through Tickets cost R140 per person and allows  access to all  participating wine farms as well as a complimentary tasting glass and free wine tastings. Outdoor enthusiasts can take part in a selection of outdoor activities  during the weekend. . For more info contact the Franschhoek Wine Valley offices on 021 876 2861 or visit for a list of participating farms.



Come and celebrate our Heritage in a fun, colourful and vibrant way this year at Imbuko Wines!!!



On September 24th Imbuko will be hosting their 6th Annual Imbuko Heritage Day/Braai Day on  National Heritage day - uniting around fires, preparing great feasts, sharing our heritage and waving our flag.

This is a Wellington farm and there are directions on their website.

This year there will be 4  Wine Brand Pods illustrating the diversity and innovation of their wines: Du Plevaux Wine with black & white theme, Imbuko Wine illustrating Africa  Pomula Wine Spritzers with a beach pastel theme and Van Zijls wine illustrating holidays in the Hamptons!
Guests will be entertained by  local South African artists, Newton & Co. & Gerry Liberty. Delicious eats & treats will be provided by some of SA’ s best food trucks including pulled Pork Burgers & Smoked Beef Brisket, Wood-fired Pizzas, Calamari, Mediterranean Pita’s and Gourmet Biltong Pies  For the little ones there will be a Kids Zone filled with entertainment .

Tickets costs only R125 per adult – Include free Wine Glass + 4 Glasses of Wine (one at each Brand Pod). Children under 18 enter free of charge. Tickets:
ADULT ENTRY - R125pp (incl Free Wine Glass & 4 glasses of Wine - one at each Brand Pod!) Ticket Sales open on Friday 29 July.


Event starts at 10am and ends at 5pm. The first 100 guests receive a FREE goodie bag.

For more info visit


Ps. There is only 500 tickets available.
Last year it was sold out before the event, so dont delay.PizzPizzP
First 100 guests to arrive on the day will get a goody bag filled with delicious truly SA products. Tickets can be purchased at or at your local Pick & Pay. Only 500 tickets available and they usually sells out weeks before.For more info you can visit their website



b2ap3_thumbnail_Robertson-winery-River-and-vineyard.jpgThe annual Van Loveren Java MTB Challenge offers  fresh challenges to adrenalin-seekers who sign up for the event taking place near Robertson on Saturday, October 1 this year. Not only mountain biking, but there's also a 10km trail running competition across  farmland and mountains as well as food stalls, music and wine tasting. The centre of activities is  the Van Loveren Family Vineyards' four MTB routes, varying in distance between 8 and 85km. Prizes and lucky draws to the value of over R 40 000 await winner.

.The 8km route is an easy, non-technical fun ride that’s suitable for children. The 20km is ideal for beginners and lies mostly along a jeep track with some single track. The 45km is suitable for an intermediate level of experience, taking riders over elevation variance of 800m. The 85km route however, is gruelling and should be attempted only by very experienced riders. The 1600m elevation will challenge even the most seasoned riders.

By entering the events, participants support very worthy causes. The Java MTB Challenge is a fundraising platform for local schools and charitable organisations. Beneficiaries for this year’s event are Robertson Primary School, Robertson Preparatory School, Goudmyn Rural School and Wakkerstroom Rural School.

For more information, visit or contact Johan Rossouw on or 023-6151505



Enjoy a lavish Sunday Jazz brunch at Taj Cape Town


The five-star hotel Taj Cape Town invites guests to join them for a lavish Jazz Brunch on the first Sunday of the month, starting on October 1. Choose from Mint the Grill restaurant or the opulent Lobby Lounge. Proceedings start with sparkling wine, then choose from breakfat items or oysters, prawn cocktails or the roast at the Carvery.

This is a family-friendly hotel, so there's a children' menus on offer as well.

The event takes place on October 02, November 06 and December 04.

To book call Taj Cape Town on 021 819 2000 or email





 , Wines of Elgin will host their inaugural Elgin Chardonnay Colloquium over the weekend of Friday, 7th October and Saturday 8th October 2016.  Guests are invited to join Almenkerk, Boschendal, Charles Fox MCC, Corder, Elgin Vintners, Highlands Rd, Iona, Lothian, Mathew van Heerden, Neil Ellis, Oak Valley, Oneiric, Paul Cluver Wines, Richard Kershaw Wines, South Hill and Sutherland as they showcase their Elgin Chardonnay’s with a selection of the best from around the world. A seminar and tutored tasting featuring top quality international and Elgin Chardonnays takes place on Friday, 7th October, hosted by Jamie Goode, a London-based wine writer, lecturer and respected wine judge.  This will be followed by a gala dinner  at Rockhaven, a beautiful venue in the Elgin Valley.

On Saturday, 8th October, visitors can choose from one of three morning and from one of the four lunch events  co- hosted by participating producers  .The full programme and listing of wines can be found at or by emailing Tickets are limited so please book early if you would like to attend.


Season of Sauvignon 29 & 30 October 20



The Season of Sauvignon Festival is back in the Durbanville Wine Valley over the weekend of 29 - 30 October.

Sauvignon Blanc lovers can expect  to a host of Sauvignon Blanc activities in the Valley throughout  October in the buildup to the festival..

Altydgedacht, Bloemendal, D’Aria, Diemersdal, De Grendel, Durbanville Hills, Hillcrest, Klein Roosboom, Meerendal, Nitida, Groot Phizantekraal and Signal Gun will all celebrate the white wine season in their own individual style. Visitors can look forward to Sauvignon Blanc inspired menus in the restaurants, Sauvignon Blanc tutored tastings in the Tasting Rooms, fashion and art events as well as the chance to taste the variety of styles of Sauvignon Blanc produced in this picture perfect Valley.

The weekend Ffestivities  on 1 October will see each of the participating farms  present the Valley Tasting in their  Tasting Rooms whilst tasting the Sauvignon Blancs of all 12 producers. The tasting costs R50 per perso

Visitors will be among the first to taste and purchase the Durbanville Twelve Sauvignon Blanc 2016. This wine, produced by the Durbanville Wine Valley from a ton of grapes from each of the 12 farms, will be available during the Season of Sauvignon and afterwards for sale from each.

A detailed festival programme and information on ticket sales will be available on from 1 September. For more information contact Angela Fourie or 083 310 1228.




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Rain, sun, wind, snow - all is possible at this inconsistent season but the blossoms are out and the daisies are in full bloom and our vines are starting to bud. We have a family of three adult sheep and three lambs grazing at the bottom of our garden, and they seem impervious to whatever the weather throws at them, with the lambs growing at an astonishing rate.

Country and city events are on the Western Cape menu.






 Groote Post will be re-opening their popular country markets Sunday 28th August , followed by monthly markets on 25th September (spring market), 30th October, 27th November and 18th December (Christmas market).

Groote Post will again be a hive of activity, brimming with  artisan foods, arts and crafts, home-ware and décor, and of course, Groote Post’s well-loved wines as well as loads of kiddies’ activities. In addition, the August market will be featuring some exciting new stalls as well as live music by Francois Haasbroek.

Darling gourmet produceincluding: Darling Mushrooms, Weskus Worswa, Udderly Delicious Cheese, Darling Pomegranate Products, Saucy Boys’ organic preservative-free chilli sauces, marinades and spices, Darling Brew and more.

Groote Post’s award-winning restaurant, Hilda’s Kitchen, will be open as usual, but please note that booking is essential. The kids, as always, will be kept busy with a wide variety of kiddies’ activities - tractor rides, face-painting, water-balls, guided horse rides and, of course, the popular playground. Although pets are welcome – all dogs must be on a leash at all times.  Visitors arriving without their dogs on a leash will be given an option to buy one from the SPCA stall or hire one at the information stall. 

Entry to the Groote Post Country Market is free of charge.

For further information Contact Eldré Strydom: 082 877 6677 or






Wine Concepts will host their 14th exclusive Seductive Sauvignons Festival at The Vineyard Hotel i



 This popular annual festival gives wine lovers the opportunity to taste a selection of flirtatious latest release Sauvignon Blanc’s and captivating current vintage Cabernet Sauvignons from over 40 of the country’s top producers. This year we will be including Bubblies, Rose’s and Dessert wines and there may even be an older vintage or two to savour in the line-up. Tempting and delicious snacks will be served with the wine throughout the evening.


All the showcased wines will be available for purchase at special prices from Wine Concepts on the evening.


Venue: The Vineyard Hotel, Colinton Road, Newlands,


Date: Friday 2nd September 2016


Time: 17.00 – 20.00


Cost: R200.00 per person – includes wine glass and light snacks


(Early Bird tickets @ R180.00)


Parking: At venue


The Vineyard Hotel is offering a special of a 2 course dinner in Square Restaurant, bed & breakfast for Single – R1 380; Double – R2 100


Tickets can conveniently be purchased via,   or at any of the Wine Concepts branches


Telephone Newlands at (021) 671 9030 or Kloof Street at (021) 426-4401




or at the door on the evening subject to availability





On the 1st of September 2016 Eat Out Top Ten Restaurant, Terroir, will join forces with Alto Wine Estate in creating a memorable evening of great food and wine. 

Terroir has earned a enviable reputation for outstanding and inventive contemporary cuisine and excellent service. Renowned Chef  Michael Broughton, sums up the philosophy behind the food at Terroir as follows: ‘It’s all about big bold flavours, where the basic ingredients in every dish are stretched to the top of their flavour profile’.

Guests will be treated to a three course dinner paired with exceptional wines selected by Alto winemaker, Bertho van der Westhuizen. A complimentary glass of Kleine Zalze’s MCC will be served.

At a cost of just R650 per person, seats are bound to fill up fast. Be sure to make your reservation by contacting Terroir at or 021 880 8167 to avoid disappointment.


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If Calling northern suburbs winelovers! Just ahead of spring, head to Capegate Shopping Centre for a great weekend wine fest, taking place from 5 - 9pm on Friday August 26 and from 12 noon to 6pm on Saturday 27th.

Festival visitors can taste and buy more than 100 wines directly from the wineries, which include large producers with well-known brands and smaller boutique and family-owned wineries, giving a taste of the best of South Africa’s winelands in one venue.

The Cape Wine Academy is presenting a wine theatre (Three sessions on Friday and four sessions on Saturday) with fun tastings and pairings on the programme at set times.

Participating wineries include: Alexanderfontein/Ormonde, Arendskloof/Eagle’s Cliff, Beyerskloof Wines, Biocape Wines, Bonnievale Cellar, Diemersfontein Wines, Dieu Donnè Vineyards, Deux Frères Wines, Du Toitskloof Wines, Edgebaston, Eerstehoop Wines, Fledge & Co, Groenland, Imbuko Wines, La Couronne Wine Estate, MWS, Orange River Cellars, Overhex Wines International, Perdeberg Winery, Peter Bayly Wines, Stellenbosch Hills, Villiera Wines, Villiersdorp Cellar, Yonder Hill Wines.

The Pebbles Project, which looks after disadvantaged children, especially those impacted by alcohol, is the charity beneficiary of the festival and will be present to spread their message and raise funds and awareness.

Tickets from the door or through  cost R70 pp (Includes a branded tasting glass) Bookings for the CWA theatre sessions can be made at the ticket office.

For up to date information, visit



Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Showcase of rare, individual wines


This popular annual event takes place in Cape Town on Thursday, 18 August at the CTICC from 6pm and in Johannesburg on Wed August 24 at the Atrium, Nedbank Sandton at 6pm. Tickets cost R250 which includes a tasting glass.

Wine enthusiasts cantaste these unique collectors’ wines crafted exclusively in small volumes for the 2016 Cape Winemakers Guild Auction by the Guild’s 47 members.Members of the Guild will also be presenting some of their acclaimed offerings sold under their own labels. Guests can also bid on rare signed bottles from previous Guild auctions during the Silent Auction. Founded in 1999, the Development Trust seeks to transform the wine industry by educating, training and empowering young talent through initiatives such as the Protégé Programme, a highly acclaimed mentorship scheme for upcoming winemakers and viticulturists.Tickets can be purchased via



  Quest for the Best 2016


The seventh annual Mutual & Federal Agri Wellington Wine Route “Quest for the Best” was celebrated with an awards luncheon in Wellington on Friday 29 July. During the judging process on 21 July a record number of 92 wines by 16 Wellington producers were tasted blind by six well-known judges.  The wines are judged and scored according to a tried and tested points system. 


The judges were: Bennie Howard ,Samarie Smith,Sandile Mkhwanazi, Johann Fourie,Danielle le Roux and Kris Snyman.

 Best top 10 wines from Wellington are:

 Bosman Family Vineyards – Bosman Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

  • Doolhof Wine Estate – Lady in White 2010
  • Wellington Wines – La Cave Pinotage 2015
  • Wellington Wines – La Cave Shiraz 2014
  • Mont du Toit - Les Coteaux Cabernet Franc 2012
  • Andreas Wine  – Andreas Shiraz 2013
  • Diemersfontein Wines – Diemersfontein Carpe Diem Viognier 2015
  • Diemersfontein Wines – Woolworths Reserve Collection Pinotage 2014
  • Douglas Green – Douglas Green Chenin Blanc 2016
  • Linton Park Wines - Linton Park Merlot 2015


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The winelands offers an appetising mix of winter wine and food events during June, July and on to August. The following are in chronological order.




As part of the Christmas in Winter festival weekend in Tulbagh Saronsberg invites visitors to enjoy their farm attractions over the weekend of June 25 – 26. Saturday sees their Christmas all-day food market take place under the oaks, alongside live entertainment and activities for children. More serious stuff for those wanting barrel tastings and wine tours are offered in the cellar. Live music adds to the mix.

On Sunday the first Saronsberg Traditional Long Table Lunch, with a festive al fresco menu and musical accompaniment is on offer. It costs R120 a head. Book by calling Marica on 023 004 0435.

Delheim swings to Cheese Fondue & Jazz Sundays



It's that time of the year again when Delheim presents their Sunday cheese fondues with live jazz accompaniment from 12.30. Choose your day – these event continue until end of August. Chef Bruce von Pressentin uses an authentic Swiss recipe that combines Emmental, Gruyère and white wine for a hearty ‘blast from the past’. The fondue is paired with bread dippers and vegetable crudités. Guests can order starters at an additional cost.The cost of R200 a head includes a glass of Glühwein and a shared cheese fondue. Pre-bookings are advised. Contact Delheim at Tel: (021) 888 4607 or send an email to





A celebration of Cape Port-Style Wines is on the menu at this one-day fest, hosted by the Melck family, Cape port producers and African Cork Suppliers.

Port lovers will team their Cape port wines with warming treats from the Muratie Farm Kitchen. All the wines will be available for purchase at cellar door prices. In addition, von Geusau will tempt tastebuds with their delicious hand crafted chocolates.

The event starts at 10h30 and costs R100. Advance booking is advised.

Telephone: (021) 865 2330 or Email: Website:· GPS: S 33 52.234   E 18 52.554





Here’s one for Gauteng’s winelovers, featuring some of South Africa’s exceptional uncommon wine varietals. Presented by specialist wine retailer Wine Menu in Illove, this event willshowcase lesser known varietals at The Wanderers Club in Illovo on Thursday, August 18 from 18h00. Limited tickets are available and cost R200 per person from Webtickets and Wine Menu at Blu Bird Centre. The price includes a selection of canapés which will be served throughout the evening a chosen to complement the styles of wine sampled.
Red varietals include Barbera, Cinsaut, Grenache Noir, Malbec, Mourvèdre, Nebbiolo, Petit Verdot, Sangiovese, Souzào, Tinta Barocca, and Zinfandel. White unusuals will include Bukettraube, Clairette Blanche, Gewürztraminer, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Muscat d'Alexandrie, Roussanne, Semillon, Viognier, Pinot Grigio and Verdelho.
Participation in the festival is by invitation only, ensuring that only top quality wines will be shown. Organiser Corlien Morris is from the Cape winelands and has been involved in the wine industry for more than 20 years.
Wines are on sale on the night at less than their regular retail prices.

If tickets are still available on the night, they will cost R220 at the door.

 Wine Menu is a specialist wine retailer, situated at Blu Bird Shopping Centre, Atholl-Oaklands Rd, Illovo. Tel. 011 440 5498.

Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Showcase of rare, individual wines

Cape Town: Thursday, 18 August 2016 / Johannesburg: Wednesday, 24 August 2016

This public tasting gives wine enthusiasts the opportunity to taste unique collectors’ wines crafted exclusively in small volumes for the 2016 Nedbank Cape Winemakers Auction by the Guild’s 47 members, to go under the hammer on Saturday October 1.

In addition to the 2016 auction wines, the Guild members will be presenting some of their own flagship products.

Showcase-goers can contribute towards the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust by bidding on rare signed bottles from previous Guild auctions during the Silent Auction. The Trust helps to transform the wine industry by educating, training and empowering young talent through the Protégé Programme, a mentorship scheme for upcoming winemakers and viticulturists.

Cape Town Showcase

Thursday, 18 August 2016. Cape Town International Convention Centre – Ballroom East (First Floor) From 18:00 – 21:00. R250 per person, includes a tasting glass

Tickets can be purchased via

Johannesburg Nedbank Showcase

Wednesday, 24 August 2016. The Atrium, Nedbank Sandton, 135 Rivonia Road 18:00 – 21:00. R250 per person, includes a tasting glass. Tickets can be purchased via

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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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Farm to Table festival weekend



Celebrate natural produce and artisanal fare at Boschendal farm during the weekend April 23 -24. This huge farm, in a setting of outstanding beauty, is ready to inform and inspire guests with a programme of talks, tours, demos and workshops, that will please eco-conscious visitors and should convince many others that  sustainable farming that is gentle to the earth, cuts food miles, and ensures humane treatment of animals is the route we should be taking.

While all ages will be catered for with children’s activities on the Sunday, Saturday's programme includes compost creation, sausage-making, wine tasting, craft beer, organic food garden tours, and free-range poultry and beef tours..

 There's a farm feast on Saturday, starting at 4pm and including a spitroast Angus ox and a barbecue picnic on Sunday to contemplate The farm feast dinner costs R450, children ‘R200 at separate table. The Sunday picnic and live music costs R295 for adults, children 12 and under R100. Picnic prices includes entertainment and childrens activities.

 please visit to book. Tickets are limited for all events.






This annual success story is marking its 15th birthday this year with another great weekend of cheese and other goodies at Sandringham near Stellenbosch., exit 39 off the N1. As always, cheese tastings can be partnered with wines, and delicious snacks of all kinds, and celebrity chefs will be doing demos of their speciality dishes. See you there!

Tickets are available from Computicket , Shoprite or Checkers store at R150 per day. Senior citizens pay R100 and children 13 years and younger enter  free. No tickets will be sold at the gates. The festival opens from 10:00 - 18:00 daily. Facebook

For more information contact Agri-Expo on tel 021 975 4440 or or visit


The Riebeek Valley Olive Festival




The annual Riebeek Valley Olive Festival takes place over the weekend of 7 - 8 May (10am to 5pm daily), where you are guaranteed to find everything olive related

From olives to olive oils and olive -inspired produce, this promises to be a feast for the senses. Not forgetting the great  wines in the area too.! Artisanal beers, an abundance of hearty local food and live entertainment add up to the promise of a great weekend.

 An Olive Passport, valid for the  weekend, gives visitors access to participating wine farms. It costs R125 and includes a tasting glass. Book online via or on the day at any of the participating venues. Children under 18 enter for free. A complimentary shuttle service will be available for the duration of the weekend.

Those choosing to make a weekend of this excursion have a wide selection of accommodation from which to choose. For more information contact Riebeek Valley Tourism on 022 448 1545 or mail





The first of these elegant evenings take place on May 14, from 6,30pm with others to follow in

August and October.Tickets are available at R595 per person, for the five course dinner with wine included. Limited seats are available so call 021 874 1071 or email to be part of this exclusive event.





Shiraz and charcuterie events are becoming trendy affairs, with Anthonij Rupert holding theirs on Saturday, 28 May (12pm to 5pm). Their own range of syrah, which includes the Anthonij Rupert Syrah, the Cape of Good Hope Riebeek’s Rivier Shiraz and Protea Shiraz will be there for sampling, as will fine shiraz from Rust en Vrede, Waterford, Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines, Hartenberg Estate, Simonsig and Thelema. These can all be paired with a range of charcuterie and artisanal fare such as French onion soup, and braised lamb arancini with tomato chutney, Toulouse sausages with braised lentils are among the rustic Rhone specialities, perfect to pair with shiraz. Tickets cost R180 per person and are limited, so pre-booking is recommended. Your ticket includes entry and tastings of the wines.. Book directly via

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Caption: Willem Blou gets to grips with the sauvignon blanc arriving at Diemersdal for the 2016 Durbanville Twelve.

Photograph: Neels Kleynhans.



Caption: Brunch in a cellar 


Dedicated, determined – and delicious. The first two adjectives apply to the winemakers and owners of the string of wine farms that lies across the Durbanville valley. The last applies to the sauvignon blanc that is a blend of the grapes of a dozen cellars – and it could also be ascribed to the more appealing of the valley  winemakers.


The 2016 Durbanville Twelve sauvignon blanc will be the third vintage of this collaborative effort, likely to be launched before the valley's annual sauvignon fest. Soon after the 11 farms each delivered one ton of just-harvested grapes to Diemersdal, which has been the host cellar from the start, the media gathered in the cool cellar of this 17th century farm to find out more about the challenging 2016 harvest.


That the valley’s marketing and PR person Angela Fourie managed to get several of the Durbanville winemakers to come to the brunch midway during the busiest week of the harvest was no mean feat. After a sociable start over bubbly from a trio of cellars, we trooped through the cool cellars to taste the sweet juices of the crushed sauvignon before settling at two long tables for a bountiful brunch.

During the many imaginative courses that were served we heard from Charles Hopkins of De Grendel who described the current harvest as the trickiest he has ever experienced, adding that the yield was down by one-third from last year. Both he and host Thys Louw of Diemersdal recently returned from New Zealand and are now experimenting with harvesting the sauvignon blanc at a higher temperature than before, as are the wine farmers from down under. Liza Goodwin of Meerendal, marking her 18th year in the Durbanville valley, commented on the camaraderie that flourishes between the farms. Charles confirmed this spirit of co-operation that comes to the fore if disaster strikes one cellar, also remarking  that nearly half the winemakers in the valley are now women. Veteran cellarmaster Martin Moore of Durbanville Hills remains confident about the quality of the vintage, particularly as the berries on their west coast vineyards were too green to be adversely affected by the recent heatwaves. Etienne Louw of Altydgedacht agreed, saying that they were crushing the components of their cap classique that day. Bernhard Veller of Nitida added that this was a unusual harvest as they had already been picking grapes for four weeks, whereas in other years, they usually only started after the middle of February.

It was also interesting to listen to Bernhard’s views on the future of wine farming in Durbanville; how, as surburb sprawl had reached the boundaries of many farms, he saw the necessity of farmers considering putting a portion – perhaps up to one third – of their land aside for controlled residential development. Survival tactics, this could be called. He also feels strongly that the valley wines are over-delivering on quality and are very under-priced: he thinks that a combined effort on the part of the Twelve could help alter this, which would  raise the status of the valley’s wines at the same time.



If anyone still has bottles left of the 2013 Twelve, open a couple and enjoy – we sipped this with our meal and the sauvignon has developed beautifully, acquiring mellow minerality, with delicious Durbanville verdancy and fruit upfront.

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With January reaching the halfway mark this week, the holidays are behind most of us, but the summer season in the winelands is just reaching its peak.


Most farms celebrate the end of harvesting, Delheim does its differently: for years they have marked the Start of Harvest with an open weekend of roll out the barrels, stomp the new grapes, al fresco dining and a load of fun. January 23 and 24 are the dates when a maximum of 120 adults will be served a glass of must and a mosbolletjies on arrival, then settle to enjoy the music, the picnic style buffet or take part in the highly competitive stomping contest.The fun starts at noon and tickets cost R300 which includes all food and activities. Children aged 2 and under go in free, others pay R175. For more info and to book contact Wilm on 021 888 4607 or send an email to


b2ap3_thumbnail_Stellenbosch-Street-Soirees-HR-9.jpgStellenbosch Street Soirees

If you are still on holiday, or wish you were, head to Drostdy street tomorrow (or on Wednesday, Jan 27) for this month's vibrant street party, when Stellenbosch diverts traffic so that guests can sip, savour and share the hospitality and delicious wines of the region. To accompany them, gourmet snacks from local eateries, music by local talent, and the communal spirit is alive and well as visitors and local meet, chat, and enjoy . Time: from 6 - 8pm. Cost: R70 for a tasting glass - and as many tastes as you wish, with street food on sale.

February's soiree dates: 10th and 24th

For more information contact Tel: 021 886 4310, or visit




In keeping with healthy eating (a favourite new year resolution) at a glorious destination where eggs, poultry and meat are ethically farmed and the giant herb and veggie garden presents a model of organic cultivation, spend Saturday January 30 on a roving, four-venue dinner at Boschendal estate : Vegetarian focussed, with meat on the side, chef Christiaan Campbell will transform the sustainably produced ingredients into three delectable courses. Vegetables, herbs and salads will star, diners will wander to their next course led by food garden manager Megan McCarthy, who will show diners ingredients that will appear on their plates a little later. Stilettos are not recommended and jerseys may be required. A welcome drink, beverage with the main course and coffee are included in the R495 a head price. To book, email or call 27(0) 21 870-4274.


Saturday February 6 is the date to diarise for Franschhoek Summer Wines at Leopard’ Leap Family vineyards. Bubbly, white and rosé wines will be there for sampling, the rotisserie kitchen will cater lavishly well and local performers will add live music. Dress in cool white is recommended. Tickets cost R150 and can be booked through Tastings start at noon. For more info contact the Franschhoek Wine Valley offices on 021 876 2861.   


The thought of relaxing on the lawns at Neethlingshof after a long hot  Wednesday of work, sounds tempting enough. Add a glass of one of cellarmaster De Wet Viljoen's enjoyable wines, snack on items from a cheese or charcuterie platter, and take in the smooth sounds of acoustic guitar played by Francois Haasbroek, and you have a midweek break perfect   for recharging our batteries.  Wednesday Wine breaks take place from 5 - 8pm until the end of March. Platters cost from R85 to R175.


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The ongoing story of Stellenbosch Vineyards is complex, one I have only partly unravelled:

Let’s start with the recent launch of a small range of Enaleni wines, part of an empowerment project, and the wines Fairtrade-certified. Stellenbosch farmer Schalk Visser gave a 23ha portion of his farm Nagenoeg to 23 farmworkers, now also shareholders in 2009. This BEE project is now coming to fruition, with four cultivars producing harvests, and at least two wines recently launched under the Enaleni label. These are a 2015 sauvignon blanc and 2014 cabernet sauvignon, both of which are selling at around R65. Both wines are undemanding, easy on the palate, and should find favour with  consumers looking for enjoyable wines to accompany summer fare, weekend braais, or just aperitifs on the the stoep. Enalenif funding has come from both the SA government and Schalk Visser. There is more information on the website

Stellenbosch Vineyards, which is marketing the Enaleni wines, is both a wine producer and exporter of several labels, with their head office at the historic Welmoed farm on the R310 outside Stellenbosch. Along with Welmoed wines, they market The Flagship, Credo, Stellenbosch Vineyards, Four Secrets, Infiniti, Arniston Bay, Versus and Infusions.

Their popular restaurant Bistro 13 on the Welmoed farm has established itself as a venue that is true to its title, offering real bistro-style fare – chef-patron Nic van Wyk presenting seasonal, simple, inviting creations  incorporating new trends without going overboard. Summer menu includes items like smoked mackerel salad with pickled fennel, an Asian-style tuna tartare, classic steak tartare, ox tongue gratin and desserts worth keeping space for. Prices are reasonable, if the website is accurate – from R120 to R160 for mains, most desserts around R50.

Wines from the SV ranges, by the glass and carafe, the restaurant is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner and for breakfasts as well over weekends. See their website for more info.

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Last week saw the official opening of the first of several Leeu destinations in Franschhoek. From December 1, pampered guests will check into this charming 12-room boutique hotel on the main street, just a couple of blocks down from the Huguenot memorial.

The former guest house was only built in the 1970’s, but its comparatively modern background is barely visible, as it now presents an air of great serenity, coupled with a luxurious but understated international feel: the décor, based on natural fabrics and fibres, wood, marble and stone, is the proof that Beverley Boswell is an inspired interior designer.

There is a serious swimming pool, an inviting terrace, and bedrooms are partnered by classic bathrooms with room-for-two showers. The service is set to be exemplary – someone who has booked in (to experience the cuisine!) was most impressed to be asked what size bathroom robe he would like…

Neither Leeu Estates’ owner Analjit Singh nor MD Hector de Galard were there, being on route to India, but we enjoyed meeting regional director Luis Pinheiro and GM Matthew Smith. Oliver Cattermole is the estate’s executive chef and made an excellent first impression with his lunch menu for the media. His first course of green asparagus, pancetta and poached egg was well matched to the Mullineux & Leeu Kloof Street chenin blanc, while a delectable fish masala on puy lentils coped effortlessly with an unusual skin contact chenin, “made like a red wine” explained marketing manager Nicola Tipping . A meaty grenache partnered a delicious course of blue cheese mini-gougères with green grapes, and dessert was a culinary triumph. Vanilla panna cotta topped with lemon verbena sorbet was finished with diced fresh pineapple while the five-star Platter Olerasay complemented the finale with fresh and irresistible sweet sipping. Sadly chef Oliver’s considerable talents cannot be enjoyed at present by anyone except hotel residents: we will have to wait for further Leeu enterprises to open in order to do this…

And indeed, this will not be a long wait – in February Tuk Tuk a microbrewery and Mexican restaurant, neighbour to Leeu House, will start operatons, and this will be followed by Marigold, an Indian restaurant and first for the town, just across the main road. Around midwinter the star of the show, Leeu Estates, comprising a 17-room country house retreat  high on the mountainside, formerly Klein Dassenberg farm, opens along with a winery to produce the outstanding Mullineux & Leeu family wines which are already grabbing headlines in the world of wine. Chef Oliver will be creating fine fare in the restaurant, open to visitors. Then there is the much-publicised acquisition of Le Quartier Francais which will continue to operate both hotel and restaurant much as before.

The Lion has made its first mark in this village renowned for hospitality, good food and wine. It’s a very elegant paw-print, and is set to be followed by more in the same vein.

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Muscat de Hambourg is a German cultivar that is uncommon in South Africa, with Stellenbosch Hills being one of two local cellars that processes it. Cellarmaster P-G Slabbert told us this German cultivar reached our shores in the 19th century – I cannot find it listed under any variations of muscat/moskat/etc in my Sothebys wine encyclopedia.

But these grapes were responsible for the fine aperitif or digestif that is La Serena, an aristocratic blend of Muscat de Hambourg with seven-year-old potstill brandy. La Serena is seductive to the eye, offering brilliant shades of ripe pomegranate, with a nose that incorporates rose petals and also  offers a diverse flavours to the palate, including nuttiness. There is no doubt that its handsome packaging matches its patrician status, being housed in a black box, lettered in gold, that requires some ingenuity to open. Childproof? Probably, and possible adult-proof too if being opened after a long liquid dinner… Only 1400 bottles of this anniversary tribute have been made, and it sells for R350. Wonderful birthday gift for anyone reaching their three score and 10 …. And equally appetising well chilled and paired with a variety of good SA cheeses.

But before we reached the stage of sampling this unique liqueur, Stellenbosch Hills had lined up an enjoyable function at the equally serene Signal restaurant of the Cape Grace hotel, where an impressive menu had been created to pair with the Stellenbosch Hills range.

The first course of citrus cured salmon was partnered by new vintages of the cellar’s sauvignon and chenin blancs. These two popular summer wines have always offered very pleasant quaffing at equally pleasing prices. The current prices –R45 and R35 respectively – seem to have stayed much the same, but the quality of the 2015 vintages has rocketed onto a higher plane indeed: the fruity, medium-bodied crisp sauvignon is fresh, flavourful and impressive, while the fresh and zingy chenin presents a tropical fruit salad with underlying minerality – a bargain buy of note.

Staying with whites to counter temperatures in the 30’s, the fine 1707 Reserve White 2013 made an excellent  accompaniment to a delectable porcini mushroom risotto topped with truffle foam. This opulent blend of mostly chardonnay with some semillon, finished with 10% viognier, enjoyed 10 months in French oak, each component maturing separately. It’s a limited edition, and one that can take on all kinds of spicy seafood, poultry and Middle Eastern layered compositions like B’stilla with panache. Also well priced at R70.

To Stellenbosch Hills and its team, including family member and voluntary PR Nicolette Waterford, a toast to the next three decades!


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