From the farm with love

Another week has come and gone, our local Covid19 strategy has evolved from a complete lockdown to a stage 4 (but figuring out exactly what that means feels like tricky algebra and we just know we cannot sell or export wine yet).

On the farm we are keeping busy though. Last week there was much excitement (and the most likes ever on a photo on our Instagram page) when we set up some cameras in the kloof and captured a Cape Leopard visit.

The whole family’s teenagers are currently locked down on the farm – after (huge) breakfasts they work on the farm (whatever is on the daily agenda) until (a massive) lunch and then it is homeschool time. When homework is done they usually venture into the kloof to work on and play in their ‘den’. In the past they had also spent a few nights camping there.

But last week brother-in-law Mark had a hunch to set up a camera at a porcupine hole and what do you know, we caught a glimpse of a leopard having a go at two porcupines!

Very exciting (if you are not sleeping 30 meters away!).

This week we’ve checked into a few vineyards which might interest you.

The last grapes harvested for 2020 comes from the oldest Bukettraube vineyard in SA (and the world??). Planted in 1978 – a time when Swartland Bukettraube could be found in every bottle store in the country.

I remember my Oupa talking about “boeke vol trouble” (books full of trouble) and although we are not looking for trouble, Adi does mention that he is trying to “make the Swartland great again…”. …

And then, on the other end of the scale, this is a young Grenache Noir vineyard planted in 2018 and doing very lekker.

Oh we hope we can show you around the farm in real life, soon soon.

Stay safe.

On the other hand…

The global phenomenon of Lockdown reached us in the Swartland too. We are however super fortunate to live on a farm where ‘not leaving your property’ and keeping our staff safe at home means we have more than enough to keep busy.

The South African Government has put a halt to all liquor sales (insert debate here) which also means we have been taking a closer look at the other things we juggle on the property.

As you can see on our Sidelines page on this website, we do not only produce wine… pretty sure that if you are a fan of the wines you know about Caperitif, probably Swaan Tonic too and likely The 4th Rabbit… but taking heed from our president, lets put a cork in that and look at the other little projects and produce.

Caper berries:

About five years ago Adi started looking for a local producer of capers and well, found none. So in true Adi style he decided to do something about it himself. Up on the east facing slopes of the Paardeberg, where no vineyards grew and some invasive trees had recently been eradicated, we planted Capparis spinosa in between the rows of local trees that we had established.

Year on year the plants have produced more and more berries, this year our crop is standing at 900kgs – and the bushes are still flowering.

The work is labour intensive ( and on a good day one person harvests about 900grams) and the process intense (especially as it is go season over Christmas and New Year) but it provides a few local ladies with steady work and income.

Breads:

The internet is all the rage with sourdough starters at the moment as people, locked inside their houses and avoiding the shops, are trying to bake their own bread.

Charl has been ahead of the trend for a while – but bread baking has a starter on the farm years before he joined the team. First Xoliswa then Molla baked fresh farm white bread for the cellar crew during harvest time (everyone fighting for the crust) and a few years later we started baking those breads to put in the cottage so that a fresh bread smell would welcome guests checking in.

When Charl (the younger Badenhorst brother) and his wife moved to the mountain they brought to the team a new set of skills and passions. So Charl cooks (with his mother’s guidance and recipes) for lunches and small events on the farm and during the winter of 2019 him and his team got schooled in sourdough.

Apart from the bread basket, Charl has also become the pizza oven master and these are a firm farm favourite. 

(Spot the capers!)

Eggs:

With many chickens come many eggs. Used mostly on the farm – again for feeding hungry crew (and kids), stocking the cottages and as an ingredient in Judy’s recipes. Hannes (that’s Cornelia’s brother who joined the team about two years ago as a general Mr Fix-It, but more on the family-team in another post) started keeping track of the hens’ laying track record, showed up with big trays and started selling them off.

Rooibos:

In an attempt to establish a Caperitif garden, to grow as many of the 45 ingredients here on the property, we planted some Rooibos in September last year. A few weeks ago we harvested 500kgs from the 0.5ha plantation. Read more about it on the Caperitif blog (click click).

Swaan:

And then lastly, for now, Swaan, our Cape Dry Tonic Water. We started making this one shortly after the Caperitif project took off, as craft tonic was still scarce back then. See, can’t find what you are looking for, make it…

Like a binge dieter Swaan has had many shapes and sizes but now comes in very cute 200ml bottles, with cans coming soon.

It simple: Persian limes, kai appels; cardamom; mint; water from Voor-Paardeberg; citric acid and quinine. Net so.

So yes, we keep busy. You can listen to Adi chatting about some of this and more on a recent podcast on Ex Amino Wine Company’s Sound Cloud (click here) and keep an eye on our Instagram or Facebook Page to see what we’re keeping busy with in isolation.

Stay well, stay safe.

Harvest 2020

2020 is a leap year, although we didn’t even really need the extra day in February- the grapes are 99% picked and pressed.

Down to just over 250 tons from about 280ish tons in 2019, this year’s harvest came in fast. Vineyards put their hands up to say ‘pick me now’ from early in January; there were a few crazy days in early February when temperatures peaked in the low 40s (that’s degrees Celsius) and it seemed the cold room would never be empty again.

But the vinyl kept playing; the crew kept gooiing kussies; the pomp kept klapping and the team are all smiles.

This year we once again had Keiji (aka Cage) all the way from Japan and Raynard (all the way from Malmesbury…) with new (very) local addition Tol (his father being our much featured long time employee Fortuin); first half impact player Tom (a Badenhorst) and Tom (not a Badenhorst, who has already departed to do it all again in Argentina). With Hanneke keeping on top of all the details and Adi guarding over the bigger picture, the cogs kept on turning – some days from 4am till long after the sun set, only grinding to a halt for the occasional visit from The Loadshedding Demon.

Back from left to right; Tom (not Badenhorst), Tol, Hanneke, Adi. In front; Cage and Ray

Obviously there were a few sunrise braais, many cups of good coffee and, according to the team ‘never the same lunch twice’.

In between Charl and Semma (and Judy and Mina and the team) hosted numerous lunches (and breakfasts and pizza oven experiences) and we put on another edition of Bradstock.

Bradstock, as it is known amongst fans, originated last year as a combined 40th/50th for Belinda and Andy – the jol was such a hit that they decided to do it again this year, making it a mini festival for their group of friends. Hosted over 24 hours and with two meals, three dance floors, eight musical acts, numerous outfit changes and thirty Glamping tents on the terraces – this was a party to remember (and repeat!).

Just a friendly reminder that Kalmoesfontein is not only the home of some of your favourite wines, we also provides a unique venue and location to bring your celebrations to life.

As always, be sure to follow us on Instagram and/or Facebook to see what we get up to.

Single Vineyards 2018 Release

Our Single Vineyard wines are made and bottled with the express intent to respect the truth of the site. Most of these vineyards are on our farm or other slopes and valleys of the Paardeberg. We’ve been working with some for almost 9 years now and each year these vineyards show a consistansy and uniqueness that we seek out.

As Adi says “these are wines without eye-shadow…”

The one everyone is talking about (well, Tim Atkin named it his red wine discovery of the year in his 2019 South African Report… and described it as ‘delicate, ethereal and graceful’, saying, ‘it’s one of the best Cinsaults I’ve ever tasted.’) is the new kid on the block the Ringmuur Cinsault.

It’s rarer than we like our fillet, sold out from our side and most retailers, make sure to grab it if you see it anywhere.

Others returning to the line up include

– the famous Raaigras “oldest Grenache vineyard in the land” from 12 rows / 1268 vines which yields about 3 tons in a good year.

-Chenin Blancs from Dassiekop, according to Adi the “finest Chenin Blanc vineyard in South Africa”; The Golden Slopes, named after the deep yellow coloured granite in the site; Piet Bok se Steen so called after an old vigneron who lived in a tiny cottage besides the block and Klipkop – a tiny parcel planted on top of a granite outcrop in 1966.

– and just to make things a bit harder for our international agents, wines named Sk’Windjiesvlei (a Tinta Barocca planted in 1962) and Sout van die Aarde (Palomino from the West Coast just north of Dwarskersbos…)

Christian Eedes reported on (and scored) all the wines from the 2018 vintage single vineyards recently. You can read his thoughts and tasting notes here (click click).

You can buy some here.

You can read about the 2019 harvest, here.

Hello harvest my old friend…

And then it was February- goodness. We’ve been very busy on the farm; first prepping the cellar and new cold room for harvest, then waiting for grapes and after a rather hectic heatwave everything seemed to come at the same time. The Chenin Blanc anyway.

 

With Jasper now heading up his own cellar down the dust road Hanneke Botha has stepped up to head the team in the day to day of the cellar. Luckily for her and us Keiji has joined us from Japan for the third year and we have a few more pairs of hard working hands joining the regular crew this season.

In the next few weeks I will try to catch them all for a short interview (somehow between 4:30am starts, staggered lunch times and closing shop at 19:30 they have very little time for social media mangers…)

Here’s a few pics, keep an eye on our Instagram account @aabadenhorst for day to day blow by blow action.

#harvest2018

All the grapes are in and things are starting to slow down (a little bit) in the cellar.

Harvest 2018 was late, tough, fast and small. But the fruit looks good and the juice is tasty.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some interesting notes and figures I spotted in the “grape intake book” include:

15 tons of Muscat de Frontignan (for Caperitif)

on 23 Feb an interesting combination of red grapes came in with a note “Port 2018″…

3,4tons of Raaigras Grenache (pictured above) and

431 kissies of Ramnasgras Cinsault…

 

Harvest Lunch

In the past we’ve been very serious about the “no nothing during harvest” rule. You may have even been on the receiving end of a “no-sorry/are-you-mad? never-in-harvest!” mail…

But that was back in the day when the team was tight and the person doing the tasting would have also been the person braaiing the meat and switching on the pump.

Now we are growing up fast. Early this year Adi’s brother Charl and his lovely wife Semma joined us in the Swartland, and with their wealth of experience in client relations and playing host they have added a new dimension to what we can offer.

Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 17.08.56

So, this February we hosted a few lunches for international groups. Adi’s mom Judy cooks, Semma and Charl hosts and helps prepare food, Cornelia makes everything look amazing and I just have to put out tasting glasses and spittoons while Adi only has to make a quick appearance, tell a joke and pour some wine.

aalunch1aalunch2

Basically what this post is saying is: You don’t have to be scared to ask us to host a group of people in harvest time any more!

Mail Semma on semma@aabadenhorst.com and you might just be in luck.

Groups of 10 – 30 preferred. aalunch3

And we’re off!

harvest20171

After a few weeks of quiet cellar preparations the first grapes have arrived.

harvest20174

And the winner is:

harvest20172

Two tons of Palomino came in from the Sout van die Aarde (Afrikaans, meaning Salt of the Earth) vineyard on the West Coast this morning!

I was too late and the boys in the cellar too busy (sticky fingers) to get a picture but I have been assured that the grapes are looking beautiful!

Meanwhile, the vintage might change but the rules stay the same:

harvest20173

While The Guardian proclaimed Grenache the toughest grape in the world and Forbes put the Swartland on their list of the top 12 underrated wine regions to visit in 2017.

We happen to have the oldest Grenache in the Swartland on Kalmoesfontein, so be sure to (make an appointment to!!) come visit us soon (and by soon I mean AFTER the harvest.)

960x0

Here’s to a five-star 2017!

In the harvest time…

It feels like this heatwave has been ongoing for ever. Forever I tell you. When it is still 30’C at 10pm it is hard to imagine it will ever cool down again, ever!

But, life goes on and the grapes are starting to come in. Last week our first Shiraz was picked, 22 tons of it! Meanwhile there is some good international publicity and a few nice emails from the other side of the world.

“You know that South African cinsault we tried?” he said. “I took the opened bottle to a dinner with a load of wine trade people and they went mad for it and said it was the best wine of the night. They were raving on and on about it.”

To read more from The Telegraph on our Ramnasgras, click here.

This morning I woke up to a very nice little note of thanks and praise from a family snowed in in Michigan, USA… hard to imagine in the dry hot Swartland summer, but nice to receive anyway:

mail

“a little vacation in a bottle,” like!

On a side note, if you were lucky enough to get tickets to Cape Town’s very first Gin & Tonic Festival, taking place next Saturday, keep an eye out for Swaan, we will be mixing with some exciting new local gins!

gin&swaan

The end is near…

As the end of the 2014 harvest starts to come into our sights, here are some pictures from the last few weeks.

late night pasta.

late night pasta.

Cellar innovation!

Cellar innovation!

A Swartland style siesta...

A Swartland style siesta…

Pressing Koffieklip Shiraz!

Pressing Koffieklip Shiraz!

pressing 1985 Steen (Chenin Blanc) after a two year sabbatical. Small berries big taste hey...

pressing 1985 Steen (Chenin Blanc) after a two year sabbatical. Small berries big taste hey…

a cellar of steel!

a cellar of steel!

Samuel's tank, 2014 Vintage.

Samuel’s tank, 2014 Vintage.