Thanks so Pam McOnie, owner of Cape Fusion Tours for organising this wonderful visit to Sadie Family wines, a unique glimpse into this Swartland vineyard which offers wine tastings limited to 16 visitors around seven times per year.
A little over an hour's drive from Cape Town, with the last few kilometers on a gravel road and we found ourselves in the heart of the Swartland wine region and the home and vineyard of Eben Sadie of The Sadie Family wine collection.
We were warmly welcomed by Paul Jordaan, a wine maker with many years of experience and very involved with the viticulture and wine production at Sadie Family Wines. Eben Sadie purchased the farm in 2002 and spent ten years commuting between South Africa and Spain, until 2002 where be began spending more time on his Swartland vineyard.
We have all experienced drought in Cape Town, but still nothing compared to the Swartland region and it was the first time I had seen vineyards without the regular drip irrigation system, but a new system which was invented in Israel.
This plastic irrigation system, channels dew and rain directly towards the vines, and prevents weeds from growing around the vine.
No stainless steel tanks in sight and Paul Jordaan shows us their cement tanks, imported from Italy. After the grapes have been hand sorted on arrival at the cellar, whole bunches with minimal press are fermented in these cement tanks with their natural existing yeast. As Swartland is warmer that the Stellenbosch wine region, they begin their harvest a week or two earlier and harvest around 1.5 tonnes per day.
All white and red wines are made in the same way and further philosophy is to use minimal oak on the wines, Eben Sadie purchases only four new barrels per year, giving 5% new oak in the final wines.
T5 on the wine barrel confirms that it was dried out in the open air for five years and the wicker style edging has been added as it indicates if the cellar has beetle problem (the beetle will attack the wicker first so they have time to resolve the problem before they attack the barrels).
In addition, Sadie Family wines age wine in a collection of wine amphorae, produced by a local potter in Cape Town.
Paul Jordaan took us through a tasting of the Sadie Family wines, it was the first time I had done a tasting where Paul started with the reds first and ended with their white wines, but it certainly was a success.
A highlight for me was to try their Chenin Blanc from vines planted in 1905, Paul explained how with good viticultural practice a vineyard can be turned around and give improved yields.
And of course, Columella, what a joy to taste their vintage 2012
Thanks to Sadie Family wines and Paul Jordaan for hosting us and giving us a unique insight into their wine philosophy and attention to detail.
Today I was lucky to have the opportunity to participate in the Cape Fynbos Experience with Giselle Courtney (Get to the Point) at the Cape Heritage Trust, Company Gardens. It is hard to find anyone with more passion and knowledge like Giselle, whose enthusiasm to share Cape Fynbos with everyone is infectious.
Giselle lead us through the variety of fynbos which had been infused in water for us to sip, enjoy and learn about the medicinal properties of the different plants.
In addition to sipping the fynbos infused water, we were encouraged to smell the plants, taste some of leaves and above you can see me tasting spekboom which I dipped into a Buchu infused olive oil.
We experienced, honeybush, rooibos, Buchu, Rhino bush, Snow bush, Cancer bush, and Rose pelargonium. Giselle ended the experience with Buchu infused brandy, Rhino bush infused gin, and Snow bush infused vodka.
This Cape Fynbos Experience is for everyone, visitors and local people who would like to know more about the plants surrounding us.
Giselle, promotes the Cape Fynbos Experience through her company Get To The Point and is currently offering these experiences on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 11am (experience lasts for around an hour) for maximum 20 guests. You are welcome to contact her directly for private group bookings.
I am a member of the Simon van der Stel Society in Cape Town and they organise some interesting outings to historical places which are not typically open to the public. Today was an amazing experience to visit the home of Simon and Rozanne Barlow, owners of the Rustenberg wine estate, initially purchased in 1941 by 'Simon's parents, Peter and Pamela Barlow. The photo above is the front of the main house and used for their label on the Rustenberg Estate wines.
The Rustenberg Estate range of wines features the Barlow family private home on their label.
Simon and Roxanne's private home is like walking through a wonderful museum, surrounded by magnificent gardens, and one can see the great care spent in maintaining all the heritage buildings and gardens. They also have a keen interest history with an employee dedicated to conducting research in the archives.
After our historic walk through the grounds, Simon and Roxanne hosted our group from the Simon van der Stel society for tea in their garden.
Rustenberg will be hosting their annual Open Gardens to the public for the next three days (Friday Saturday Sunday), where visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the grounds and enjoy the gardens.
In addition you can visit their wine tasting (please arrive at least 30 minutes before closing and phone in advance if you will be four or more guests:
Monday – Friday: 09h00 to 16h30*
Saturday: 10h00 – 16h00*
Sunday: 10h00 – 15h00*
I have taken many guests over the years for a cooking experience with Faldela in her home in the Cape Malay Quarter (BoKaap), and last week we enjoyed the special experience of breaking the fast with her family during the holy month of Ramadan. At this time of year the fast is broken around 5.50pm so we planned our arrival at her home for 4pm so that the guests could have plenty of time to enjoy the cooking experience of making chicken curry, samoosas, and roti.
For the lunch time cooking experience I usually arrive around 11am and the house is quiet as the children are at school. A totally unique experience today as it was a Saturday and Ramadan. It was all hands on deck in the kitchen as the children were assisting in making special treats for the neighbours. It is customary for the children living in the Bo Kaap to deliver treats to the neighbours about an hour before the fast is broken so the kitchen is busy with local children in and out bringing treats.
First up we made roti my mixing flour and water and then followed Faldela's instructions on the special way they need to be prepared and rolled out.
Next we made the salad and the chicken curry
Faldela explains all the spices
We don't need a watch or a clock to know the time to break the fast. We are in the heart of the Bo Kaap so we wait until we hear the mosque, prayers are said and supper is served. The fast is often broken with something sweet, like a cake, and then the feast is enjoyed
If you would like to book a cooking experience with Faldela in the Bo Kaap please contact her 072 483 4040
Vergelegen is one of the few vineyards open on Jan 1. A wonderful alternative to the beach and now a place for all the family. Vergelegen is so well known for the grandiose Manor House with Cape Dutch architecture and the three hundred year old giant Camphor trees. We sometimes neglect to mention the gardens which are clearly nurtured and another source of pride at Vergelegen.
Located in front of Stables (the new bistro style casual restaurant) and next to the jungle gym play area, the multiple species of Agapanthus are blooming at their best right and worth a visit to see these alone.
As you walk from the Manor House to the libray you will pass a carpet of Hydrangea, also in perfect bloom.
Vergelegen is open seven days a week except for Good Friday and Christmas Day and has something for all the family. A bistro, fine dining, picnics, gardens, children's play area, historical manor house, historical library and fabulous walks alongside the river and around the grounds.
It can be a challenge to find a special wine tasting experience during the week between Christmas day and new year as the wine region is swamped with visitors. It was our luck that winemaker Jeremy Walker of Grangehurst was available yesterday and took my visitors Rick and Betsy Huber (USA) through his wines. Rick and Betsy had already told me of their preference for Pinotage so an appointment with Jeremy was a perfect match as he is very experienced in both Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon. What also makes this wine tasting experience special is that Jeremy has older vintages.
Jeremy's lively approach to presenting his wines always makes for an enjoyable tasting. Rick and Betsy are seasoned travellers and have visited wineries all around the globe. 'Nothing will ever beat this wine tasting experience' said Rick
Grangehurst is located off the R44, South of Stellenbosch, close to Eikendal vineyard. You need to call in advance to check that Jeremy or his wife Mandy are there, Tel 021 855 3625
The Cape Town Fishmarket restaurant has relocated overnight to an exciting new venue nestled in between the Robben Island gateway and the Chavonnes Battery museum on the clocktower side of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. Previously located inside the mall close to the lower floor cinema, this new venue will now offer the diner excellent harbour views while feasting on seafood. This site was originally the home of the german restaurant Polona and then the African restaurant Moyo and now the Cape Town Fishmarket have extended and transformed this area so that all customers and can view harbour activities.
The restaurant is bright, light and spacious with white tables and chairs along with these special loungers for those who want to enjoy a cocktail and enjoy the Waterfront vibes. It doesn't matter where you sit, everybody has a harbour view and on those days when the South-easter wind is blowing hard there is plenty of seating inside. The menu is exactly the same as before, only the brand new venue and I sure this will be a wonderful new option for seafood lovers and certainly attract more visitors to the clocktower side.