We have had some really interesting times in Knysna so far, but one of the highlights to date has been a dinner that we had earlier this week. We saw an advert in the local newspaper called Action Ads. The advert was for a dinner event with world renowned winemaker Beyers Truter, owner of Beyerskloof Wine Farm in Stellensbosch. The interesting part of this particular dinner was that Beyers was going to be doing the cooking and the talking and it was going to be a Snoek braai, no less. Well, we didn’t hesitate to jump at this opportunity and on top of it all, the braai was to be held at the beautiful Featherbed Nature Reserve forest restaurant and we would be transported to the Featherbed Reserve on the beautiful paddle cruiser. We signed up in no time!
The evening was fantastic, we boarded the paddle cruiser and on our cruise across the lagoon to the reserve, we had a beautiful sunset. We arrived at the Featherbed Nature Reserve with 50 other excited guests and soon, we were ushered into the forest restaurant which is nestled under a canopy of indigenous trees and in the middle of the tables were the braais, with glowing coals, all ready for the snoek.
We were then introduced to the man himself, Beyers Truter. He is a very down to earth individual when you consider his local and international accolades, he is known and the Pinotage King around the world. The amazing thing is that he chatted to us as if we were having a braai in his back garden. He is very approachable and very funny. He covered topics from how a bottle of sparkling wine is carbonated to the hot debate of cork vs screw tops. He gave us some great tips on how to properly braai snoek (which we tasted and it was delicious) The venue was fantastic, we sat under the low trees with glimmering lights in them and sipped on our Beyerskloof wines and were thoroughly entertained by Beyers and the team from Featherbed Nature Reserve.
As with all good things, the evening came to an end, but not before a tranquil cruise back to the Cruise Café jetty where we all said our farewells.
For a few hours it was as if we had been transported to another world, and the evening was extremely enjoyable. Thank you to the team at the Featherbed Nature Reserve and to Beyers Truter and his team for putting on a great evening.
On Saturday we went on a half day outing to visit some of the local wine and olive farms in the Mendoza area. Mendoza is famous for its wines, most particularly its Malbec wine. Mendoza has a very interesting geography which enables it to produce some very good wines. Technically the Mendoza region is a desert, approximately 3 – 5% of its land is arable and a lot of this land is used to produce wine or olives. The area only receives about 200mm of rain per year, so it really is dry in that sense. The interesting thing is that, whilst there is little rainfall, there is a fair amount of water because of the run off from the surrounding mountains and some of the water comes in from the Andes which are not far away. The city is surrounded by the gigantic mountains, and their snow capped peaks can be easily seen, even though the actual mountain is 150km away. So we began our tour at a small family run wine farm, the vineyards were about 40 years old and the farm produced red wines and only 1 white wine. We tasted both, the white wine was really very good, slightly dry, but a little sweet and very refreshing. The red wine was good too.
We then moved onto an olive farm. This farm produces 1 million litres of Olive Oil per annum and that means that they harvest 8 million kilograms of olives in a year. We were quite taken aback at these stats, the farm certainly didn’t look that big, but that was their production. Most of the process now is automated, but we were shown the old way of pressing olives to extract the oil, quite laborious to say the least. At this farm they produced extra virgin olive oil and we were given some to sample and it was really good.
Our next visit was to another wine farm, they had produced and international award winning Malbec wine. This wine was made from a batch of grapes harvested in 1999 and the reserve made only 4200 bottles of which 166 bottles are left at the estate. The price for a bottle of this wine in Argentina would be the equivalent of R 580.00 and in the USA well over R 700.00 or R 800.00, needless to say we never got to have a taste of this. We did sample some of their red wine and Rose wine and both were really good especially the red.
Our last stop was at a church in Mendoza called the “Church of the Vine” This church is mostly frequented by local farmers from the area and hence they pray that their harvests will be plentiful and so Mary is depicted on a wagon with the farmers offering her grapes as an offering. The interesting aside here is that in 1861 Mendoza was struck by a huge earthquake and 60% of its inhabitants were killed. Almost the whole city was flattened by this quake, but miraculously (according to locals) the Church remained standing and was unharmed. The Church has become somewhat of an icon in the area and so we stopped to look in.
There is no doubt in my mind that Cape Town is certainly one of the most beautiful cities in South Africa. Francis and were in Cape Town for only two days to say goodbye to some friends and to fly out from here to Buenos Aires. For me, Cape Town is such an iconic city, it has Table Mountain, Robben Island and so much more, but one of the main areas that has made Cape Town famous is her wines. Of the three wine areas, Stellensbosch is home to some of the best wines in the country if not the world. World class Cabernet Sauvignon wines are cultivated here and there are some magnificient farms to visit. Yesterday, we went and paid a visit to Delheim and what a treat that was. We spent most of the afternoon enjoying some amazing scenery (Delheim is in a very picturesque setting agains the Simonsberg mountains) and some really good food. Of course, we had some wine, a really juicy, tasty Shiraz that just topped off a wonderful lunch with our friend Lizl..