Too much wine, too little time

wine intellectual part of a meal

I don’t understand something and no-one has been able to explain it in a way that makes any sense. Many people have agreed with me but I don’t see anyone making an effort to pressure the industry to change this.

Here’s the thing: wine estates in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek close much too early in summer.

There are plenty of other wine regions (where establishments also close early) but I’m mainly concerned with these two because they’re the ones tourists want to see the most and they’re the ones that are all over social media begging us to bring visitors. They hire expensive PR companies, they arrange great events, but for a simple wine tasting with the potential sales that this will encourage, it’s strictly short hours. Most open at 10:00 which makes sense because who wants to taste wine any earlier, but they almost all close at 17:00 and some even earlier.

Many visitors don’t realise how vast the regions are so they only set aside one day for wine tasting. This means that if you remove the time it takes to have lunch, visit the towns themselves – which would be crazy to miss, and get around, you have at most 3 hours for wine tastings and cellar-tours. Yet, by the time most places close there are 3 to 4 hours of daylight left!

Of course there are some estates that stay open later than others but there are too few of them and they’re not always the ones that clients want to visit – many visitors arrive with a bucket list of wines to taste after having researched in advance.

I need a place with magnificent views of the sunset where my clients can have a last tasting before heading back to town. It can’t be on Hellshoogte Pass because that’s too middle-of-the-day – closer to the N2 would work. I might have to build it myself.

Fairview goats blog pic

The most photographed goats in the Cape – at Fairview where the best cheese is made. A cheese and wine pairing is the highlight of a wine tour – but the latest booking is 15:30!


Chocolate and wine tasting at Waterford. Good wines, great setting, but the last full tasting (8 wines) is done at 16:30. Oh well, have a look at the gorgeous old vine in the background.

ken forrester blog pic 2

I love the casual setting for tastings at Ken Forrester – closes at 17:00.

Ken Forester blog pic

Sneaking in another one from Ken Forrester – this tiny house in the middle of the parking lot is too cute for words.

delaire graaf

Couldn’t resist sneaking in a pic of the fabulous view on Helshoogte Pass from Delaire-Graff, where it’s more about opulence than anything else.

Secret Garden

Enjoyed a hoity-toity little outing to the beautiful valley of Franschhoek (the French Corner, also often referred to as the gastronomic capital of South Africa) with Caroline this week. We donned our pearls, buffed our nails and left the city behind. The whole point  was a cocktail invitation to which I added a dinner. I then decided we may as well leave town earlier and pop in to a boutique winery I’ve been meaning to visit. That little side-trip will be the subject of a blog post all of its own but suffice to say we had great fun and got more than we bargained for. I can’t wait to add this gem to my wine tours.

Even though we’d lingered at the winery and were a tad late for the cocktail party (not to mention slightly tipsy and ravenous!) we still made a quick trip to the Secret Garden I’d promised to show her. This best-kept secret is next to the Huguenot Museum and a very old cemetery where many of the town’s original settlers are buried. I first saw this garden over a year ago when it was still new – yesterday’s flying visit bowled me over with the beauty of what has grown since. It helps that this time of year is the best time for our indigenous fynbos.


Our magnificent national flower, the King Protea. Franschhoek is full of them!


Caroline insisted I pose like this.









Side view of the museum.
This entire building used to be a private residence near the centre of Cape Town – Saasveld House. Faced with the threat of demolition, some forward thinking person suggested it be moved to Franschhoek. Every brick was labelled and numbered, carefully stored, transported to Franschhoek and rebuilt as the Huguenot Museum.


The front facade.


A King Protea in bud.


Then we hit the cocktail circuit and this beautiful horse was waiting for us on the lawn of Grande Provence. Can anyone guess what it’s made of?

Only 364 days until my next birthday

Birthday doodleI tried to avoid this day but the fates were against me, it still came around. They should add birthdays to those infamous 2 things you can’t avoid: death and taxes.

The day started just after midnight when I realised that because I have a Google+ account I get a Google Doodle with a personal birthday greeting – this was awesome and I saved the picture, see above.  They should have included some wine, clearly Google isn’t noting my habits as much as they think they are.

At the crack of dawn my sister was the first to call and we had a lovely long giggly phone call which set the tone for the day.  I like talking to my sister early in the day while she’s still sober, it gets tricky as the day progresses. I discovered I was out of regular Colombian blend and had to make do with Amarula flavoured coffee.. oh well, special day and all. I get my coffee from Anthony’s in Loop Street – nothing fancy, no trendy prices or attitude, just genuine coffee lovers and good freshly roasted quality.  A floral and gift delivery from Irish Pat arrived while I was still in pyjamas.

I was inundated with Facebook birthday messages .. the most I’ve ever received since I signed up and a treat was that many of them were genuine personal messages, not just an arbitrary happy happy (I do that sometimes, sorry, I’ll try do better in future). Even Sarah found the time in her busy Australian trip which I am following on this blog and loving every moment of it. Her entries are mostly short and make for an easy but interesting read. She’s reaching the maudlin part of her trip now so it’s time to come home.

My buddies Caroline, Heather and Philippe announced they were popping around after work so I went to get a few bottles of vino and snacks, as well as an overdue gift for Phil whose birthday was last month (see Princess Vida’s blog entry). I always see things I want to photograph at the mall and today I indulged myself a teeny bit. It’s a nice mall with very good quality shops, even the supermarkets, but the people are so bloody pretentious I want to just laugh in their faces. I’d love to take pics of some of them but I dare not, they’re bound to know I’m not a talent scout.

I forgot to take photos of my snack platters. I got nice gifts. We had fun. The dogs didn’t break anything. Vida got a few tidbits when I tidied up. Paul called at 3 minutes to midnight.

There's a massive parking lot but some people can't be expected to wait and walk.

There’s a massive parking lot but some people can’t be expected to wait and walk.

Birthday crap pies

Pick n Pay will be hearing from me about these. Billed as ‘savoury mince pies’ we renamed them ‘air pies’.

Birthay Nora Mirror

Dumbest mirror in town – my gay friends will love this!

Birthday flowers

Can only be in this pretentious shopping mall to see flowers individually protected like this. They are proteas for petes sake, tough as boots! R40 for 4 flowers.

Birthday Amy Biehl

Merlot made in Robertson, should be interesting – to be opened another day. The proceeds of this wine go to the Amy Biehl Foundation. See link below.

Amy Biehl and the Foundation created in her name.


A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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