Everyone needs a bit of yesteryear now and again. And whenever this feeling raises its head, Vriesenhof is my place.
Look, I’m all for progress. And having resided and worked in Stellenbosch for almost four decades I am stunned by the continuous evolution the wine industry has shown. Not only in its incomparable wine quality, but the imagination and initiative wine-farm owners have shown in turning the region into a haven for tourists and other visitors. Gourmet restaurants. Cavernous, shiny venues with gorgeous views offering detailed wine-tastings to rows of eager tour groups. Art collections and play-spaces for kids.
Jay McInerney, the American novelist who proved that one can become a competent wine writer after years of heavy cocaine snorting, says he can smell a Haut-Brion Bordeaux wine from across the room. Whether this says something about that wine or Jay’s perceptive olfactory sense is not clear, but after all the Bolivian marching powder the Dude did, my money is on the wine.
The Top 100 Wines Competition, which has until now generated a lukewarm attitude in the industry, has suddenly been catapulted into the forefront of the South African wine competition scene. The reason for this is the announcement that UltraLiquors, one of the country’s most important sellers of wine, has teamed-up with Robin von Holdt’s Top 100.
I have been not unwilling, but reluctant, to add my penny to the fortune of riches amassed by the Swartland region over the past few years. The area holds a dear place in my weary heart, as the family farm called Swartboskraal is situated in the Swartland’s sandveld soul. To me the Swartland is a desolate and mysterious place, filled with tales of hardship told by people to whom the term “salt of the earth” does not do justice.