A misty winter morning landscape in the Riebeeck Valley

We are not young, physically, and we sometimes regret the loss of agility which we had in our youth. But there are compensations. We have learned many lessons which help us to avoid some of the pitfalls which life throws across our path, not that we always take note. But we do believe that age is an attitude and we have just had a weekend away which told us that we are right. We are members of a wine club. It is, possibly, the oldest extant wine club in Cape Town, and some of our members can remember its earliest days, when it was Men Only, and the dress code was jackets and ties. Fortunately, time has moved on from there; several of our members are women and we no longer insist, or even wear, ties. Each year Lynne organises a weekend away to one of our wine producing areas. We all love good wine and food and we all have a spirit of adventure. Above all, we love to get out and have fun. This week, we share our latest adventure with you and encourage you to visit places like those we have visited and enjoy them…

But first ...

An invitation to attend the Annual Tops at Spar Wine Festival, held at the GrandWest Casino in Goodwood, was tempting. We set out at 4 to get there for the opening on Thursday and, sadly, the Cape Town traffic had us crawling very slowly and we only got there at just before 6. The 650 metres from Strand Street to the flyover took us more than half an hour due to gridlock. It is a daunting challenge to get to any event that requires central city and motorway driving nowadays to get out of town in the late afternoon and early evening…

A Riebeeck Valley weekend

Once a year, Lynne organises a trip for our wine club to a different wine district. The criteria are always the same. The accommodation must all be together, couples and singles want their own rooms en suite but it must not be too costly. This sadly cuts out several wine areas where the accommodation is sparse. There must be good wine farms and restaurants in the area and the hotel needs to offer us a good breakfast. We have been to Wellington, Robertson, Botrivier and Paarl in recent years and this year we were headed to Riebeek West and Riebeek Kasteel…

An icy morning mist kissed the whole valley on Saturday morning as we headed to our first wine tasting appointment at Allesverloren (tr. All is lost). Behind the far mountain is the Tulbagh valley, another wine area we want to visit. Amanda was waiting for us and had chairs and a table arranged in a horseshoe on the tasting room terrace…

We met Meerhof Cellarmaster Jaco Brand at the Tops at Spar wine show last week and he invited us to bring our wine club to the farm for a tasting while we were in the Riebeek area. One of the inducements was that the farm, besides having very good wines, has the best views in the valley. Meerhof was bought by Koos van Rensburg and his son Erik four years ago…

Wine farms close early on Saturdays in the Riebeek valley, so we had not made any appointments for the afternoon. We had made an appointment for lunch at Bayleaf and Thyme which is in the main square in Riebeek Kasteel. but were a bit late from our superb tasting at Meerhof, which went on till nearly 2. But we phoned and the restaurant was fine with our coming late. It was actually too warm to sit at the table they had kept for us on the sunny porch, so we headed under shade…

Sunday morning dawned sunny but icy cold. After breakfast we all checked out of the hotel and some of us headed to Pulpit Rock winery, which IS open on Sundays although not many people were there that day. It is just a very short distance down the road out of Riebeek West in the direction of Morreesburg with seating outside on the terrace and inside. They also have a restaurant below, but it was not open on Sunday…

This traditional Hungarian dish is just right for the cold days of winter when you want something that is uncomplicated and delicious. If you can find Hungarian paprika, that would be superb. But if it is not readily available, use a good, reputable local paprika…

MENU’s Wine of the Week. 2018 Meerhof Cabernet Sauvignon

made by Cellarmaster Jaco Brand. This classic Cabernet blew us away with its quality and fruit. Cassis fruit with some spice on the nose. 50/50 French and American oak has been used which adds complexity. It is a beautiful, cassis driven wine, layered with good black currant berry fruit, lovely soft tannins, and the fruit returns for a long end. We bought six immediately...

We want to use wine barrel staves as the covering of a pergola which we wish to build on our deck, which has no protection from the sun. If any of our wine maker readers have old barrels which have outlived their original purpose, or even loose staves from old barrels, we’d love to have them. Condition is not important, we just need the staves. Please let us know


19th July 2019

All verbal content and photographs used in this site are © John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor and Bacchus, unless otherwise specified

We keep talking about rain and the scarcity of water in our blessed, beautiful province. We are still in trouble. 2018 has seen the lowest rainfall of any year since 2010 and 2019 looks as though we're having even less. We measured a total of 477mm for 2018, which compares poorly with a "normal" annual average of 600mm

It is not difficult to be careful; just be aware of what you do with water and look after this precious resource. Don't leave the shower running while you soap, use grey water to flush, don't run the dishwasher until it is full..... We're in crisis. Think about it! Your garden may, like ours, become a desert. Sad, but necessary and a minor sacrifice in comparison to queueing at a hose for your daily 25 litre allowance. We are planting succulents and other water-wise plants which will tolerate the conditions and still give us pleasure

So don't think that it's OK if it's raining; the trouble is that it is not raining enough. The dams are only, on average, not sufficiently full. We need to try harder. It is no use hoping that more rain will come. If it does, it will be a blessing, but the long term forecast still does not encourage optimism. Tapping into aquifers and installing desalination plants will help in the long term, but we must face up to the fact that water will always be a scarce, precious commodity in the Western Cape. The world's weather is in trouble. Europe is experiencing temperatures that we are used to here in Africa. Vineyards are being planted in England. It might be normal in Spain, but when we hear stories from chilly Scotland and often icy Norway about temperatures in the 30s.....

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