A prehistoric beast or a reincarnation of Spielberg's ET? - One of the giant tortoises in The Vineyard Hotel's gardens

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Beside the events we are covering, we have been rather taken up this week by Lynne's 70th birthday celebrations. Despite having vowed after John's a couple of years ago, that she was never doing this again, she did, but there was some help from outside too. A dear friend baked a huge loaf and made a plate of humus. We ordered a LOT of sushi from Dynasty, three chocolate cakes from Cassis (why they can't make one for 24 people is a mystery) and a huge spinach and feta quiche from Hartlief in the Gardens Centre. But cooking has been ongoing for a few weeks - thank heavens for a freezer and then for the two days before our small party on Sunday for family and very old friends (some of whom are still substantially younger than Lynne). A great time was had, we managed to squeeze everyone in, the weather behaved and remained sunny and reasonably warm and she didn't collapse in a heap until Tuesday

Expectation and Delivery     A lot of information is sent to us about events, wines, restaurants and accommodation by PR companies, asking us to publish their blurbs.  If we are not invited to them, or sent samples, we can't write about them; we'll have nothing to tell or show. Repeating is not what we do, nor is it what you expect from us. It’s that simple. We will never regurgitate press releases about wines we have not tasted, or places at which we have not eaten, or stayed. We tell you first-hand and honestly about what we have seen and tasted, as we only write about our experiences (which we think you in turn might like to try). We pay for many of these - and we always make it clear when we do. An invitation to a "free meal" invariably costs us time, petrol and often overnight accommodation. We don’t like driving a long way home after a dinner with wine, so it is never free. A recent “free” dinner in Paarl cost us about R1000 in accommodation, transport etc. We are not paid to publish any of the information we give you; we want our reports to be authentic. We do accept invitations and, when we do, we will tell you if we are sponsored; we will still be as objective as possible. Do check out our Events Calendar and experience the listed events yourselves. We can't afford to get to everything, but we try....

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We keep talking about rain and the scarcity of water in our blessed, beautiful province. We are consistently using less than 3000 litres per month in our home. It is not difficult, 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! This July, we received 56mm of rain. Last July, 177mm; July 2016, 247mm which was more typical of average Cape Town July rainfall. So don't think that it's OK, we've had some rain. This is close to Kalahari desert level

This was a very good year for grapes from the small vineyard at the Vineyard Hotel. The three rows of Semillon and the five rows of Chardonnay produced 244 kilos of grapes which have been turned into 168 litres of wine by this year's producer, Simonsig. Klein Constantia, Meerlust Wine Estate, Simonsig Wine Estate, Warwick Wine Estate and Waterford Wine Estate are the Vineyard Hotel’s five official wine partners, and each takes a turn to craft the wines. The grapes were first harvested in 2013 and this is the 5th year in which there have been enough grapes to produce wine. We were invited to join in and help as we are custodians of one of the vines which grow on the bank of the Liesbeek River. Next year it will be Klein Constantia's turn again

It was a complete coincidence that this followed The Vineyard's bottling day, enabling us to visit Simonsig twice in two days. Once a year, Simonsig offers the public a tasting of their vintage wines (held on Saturday, August 12th). We were invited to the trade and media preview which was held the day before. The tasting also included a master class of some of the winery's gems, to be presented by Cellarmaster Johan Malan.

Having bottled this year's vintage on Thursday this week, we headed back to the Vineyard Hotel on Saturday to help prune the vines. This annual event means that the old wood which bore the fruit this year has to be taken off the vine and pruned back to just two new buds at its base. It is an expert job, so the winemakers and viticulturist involved were there to assist. We had been taught previously how to do this and were allowed to properly prune the vines but, this year, it was decided that the custodians would prune the vines to the top of the second wire and the experts would take over from there. We were a bit disappointed, but there have been some bad mistakes made in the past which may have limited production, so we accept that it may have been necessary

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An old favourite, served to our guests at Lynne's 70th birthday lunch last Sunday. Read on...

This intensely fruity wine has a nose so beautiful that you want to dive in. It has richness and careful wooding that supports but doesn't comment, except with a note of vanilla. Cherries, ripe mulberries, tayberries and raspberries, ending with some spice and pepper. The fruit and wood are in concert. 

Taste it at the Cape Winemakers Guild Open Tasting at the CTICC tonight, Thursday 17th August

Drink now and in the future

 In MENU Next Week

Lunch at Foxcroft

Bouchard Finlayson Hannibal vintage tasting

Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Preview

We are planning to use wine barrel staves as the covering of a pergola. If any of our wine maker readers have old barrels which have outlived their original purpose, we’d love to have them. Please let us know

Information about interesting wine, food and related events happening in the Western Cape and, occasionally, in other areas. It is as up to date as the information we have received from the various organisers. Accuracy in the descriptions of events listed here depends on the information given to us by the organisers or their publicity agents. Some of this information comes to us in hugely verbose communiqués which we have to précis to make it easier for you. We will not be held responsible for any inaccuracies, however caused.

If you'd like us to publish news about an event, please send us the basic details: What, where, when, price. If we have to cut it down to the size which we'll publish, it may take us too long to fit it into our very busy programme

Coming Events:

Tuesday 1st to Thursday 31st August  Mexican Fiesta at the Oyster Box, Umhlanga, KZN from 18h30-21h30 each evening. Arriba!! August is party time. Gather your amigos and make your way to the Palm Court for a pop-up Mexican dining experience to remember. Enjoy an arrival cocktail followed by a set starter, choice main course and set dessert. Price is R390 per person. Restaurant and High Tea reservations: +27 31 514 5018 • Email: restaurants@oysterbox.co.za Spa reservations: +27 31 514 5072 • Email: spa@oysterbox.co.za      Accommodation reservations: +27 31 514 5000 • Email: reservations@oysterbox.co.za

Thursday, 17th August Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Showcase, Cape Town  For more details and to book, please click on the event name

Friday, 18th August 17.00 – 20.00  Wine Concepts’ 15th exclusive Seductive Sauvignons Festival at The Vineyard Hotel. Taste a selection of flirtatious latest release Sauvignon Blanc’s and captivating current vintage Cabernet Sauvignon’s from over 40 of the country’s top producers, including Bubblies, Roses 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. Cost: R200.00 per person – includes wine glass and light snacks. The Vineyard Hotel is offering a special of a 2 course dinner in Square Restaurant, bed & Full English breakfast for Single – R1 490; Double – R2 270. Tickets can be purchased via www.webtickets.co.za, or at any of the Wine Concepts branches. Telephone Newlands at 021 671 9030 or Kloof Street at 021 426 4401 Email: admin@wineconcepts.co.za or at the door on the evening subject to availability http://www.wineconcepts.co.za

Tuesday, 22nd August Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Tasting, Pretoria Country Club For more details and to book, please click on the event name

Wednesday, 23rd August Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Showcase, Sandton For more details and to book, please click on the event name

Friday, 25th to Sunday, 27th August Franschhoek Mystery Weekend. Packages available at R4600 per couple for 2 nights which include: Two nights’ accommodation; Breakfast daily; An exclusive Friday night get together; Dinner on the Saturday night; Lunch on either the Saturday or the Sunday; A selection of fun filled bespoke Franschhoek experiences which will be revealed upon your check in, but are guaranteed to be unforgettable. For bookings or more information, contact Carmen Arendse on mysteryweekend@franschhoek.org.za

Sunday, 27th August Bottelary Hills Pop Up Lunch featuring the Bottelary Hills Stellenbosch wine route and celebrated, Scottish chef George Jardine with wines from Kaapzicht Wine Estate. Booking is required as the tickets are limited. To make a reservation or see a map of Bottelary Hills, visit www.wineroute.co.za. For more information phone 021 886 8275. Tickets to the Bottelary Hills Pop Up Lunches cost R550 per person and include a wine tasting prior to lunch and the ensuing three-course feast, served with glasses of estate wine paired with each course. Each guest also gets a bottle Bottelary Hills wine to enjoy at home

Monday, 28th August from 18h30 - 22h30, Asian Master Class at the Oyster Box, Umhlanga, KZN. Hone those cooking skills or learn something new. A fabulous evening of cooking, curries, sauces, noodle dishes and stir fries awaits. All things Asian, this evening includes a three-course dinner showcasing some of the dishes from the class. Price is R850 per person. Restaurant and High Tea reservations: +27 31 514 5018 • Email: restaurants@oysterbox.co.za Spa reservations: +27 31 514 5072 • Email: spa@oysterbox.co.za    Accommodation reservations: +27 31 514 5000 • Email: reservations@oysterbox.co.za

Thursday, 31st August 5.30pm to 8pm Lanzerac’s Winter Tastings. Pre-booking is essential as space is limited to 30 guests per evening to ensure an intimate wine tasting experience. The cost of R95 per person includes a welcome drink, the wine tasting and a light dinner of soup and bread. Contact Zelda Furstenburg at Lanzerac Wine Estate on 021 886 5641 or winesales@lanzerac.co.za for queries or to book your seat


It has information about interesting wine, food and related events happening in the Westerm Cape and, occasionally, in other areas. It is as up to date as the information we have received from the various organisers. Accuracy in the descriptions of events listed here depends on the information given to us by the organisers or their publicity agents. Some of this information comes to us in hugely verbose communiqués which we have to précis to make it easier for you. We will not be held responsible for any inaccuracies, however caused.

It you'd like us to publish news about an event, please send us the BASIC details: What, where, when, price. If we have to cut it down to the size we'll publish, it may take us too long to fit in to our very busy programme

We receive a lot of enquiries from people who want to learn more about wineCathy Marston and The Cape Wine Academy both run wine education courses, some very serious and others more geared to fun. You can see details of Cathy’s WSET and other courses here and here and the CWA courses here. Karen Glanfield has taken over the UnWined wine appreciation courses from Cathy. See the details here

The Hurst Campusan accredited school for people who want to become professional chefs, has a variety of courses. See the details here

In addition to his Sense of Taste Culinary Arts School, Chef Peter Ayub runs a four module course for keen home cooks at his Maitland complex. Details here

Nadège Lepoittevin-Dasse has French cooking classes in Noordhoek and conducts cooking tours to Normandy. You can see more details here

Emma Freddi runs the Enrica Rocca cooking courses at her home in Constantia

17th August 2017

We write about our experiences in MENU, not only to entertain you, but to encourage you to visit the places and events that we do. We know you will enjoy them and we try to make each write up as graphic as we can, so you get a good picture of what is on offer at each place, restaurant, wine farm, festival we visit. 

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