On Thursday I had the pleasure of lunching with Hermanuspietersfontein ‘Creative Maverick’ Gerrie Heyneke and his assistant Anika de Goede, at the colourful The Stack. They introduced me to their Kaalvoet Meisie Sauvignon Blanc 2015, and shared details of the exciting transformation lying ahead for the winery, which was established eleven years ago.
The winery was named after the official first name of the town, now known as Hermanus. Gerrie’s background is in marketing, having owned a below-the-line agency, before he became a Director of The White House (now the Twelve Apostles hotel building). He and the Pretorius family became shareholders in the winery, and Gerrie is its ‘Creative Maverick’. Gerrie chose a brand name that must be the longest in the wine industry, and consciously chose to communicate exclusively in Afrikaans, each wine being a member of the Hermanuspietersfontein ‘family‘, he explained with pride. Swartskaap is the spokesperson of the brand family, and is synonymous with the brand.
One of the marketing strategies was to create a food and wine market at the winery, and it has become well-known for its cheeses, charcuterie, abalone, and other food items. One can naturally buy and drink the Hermanuspietersfontein wines on a Saturday morning, and enjoy a brunch or lunch with the foods one buys, or take cooked meals home. A transformation program will start shortly, with storage for the wines to be built along the full length of the right hand wall, the market stands being relocated within the remaining space. Brand new stand tables will be installed, and vendors will wear branded aprons, so that the feeling of family will be created. The vendors were evaluated, and some let go, some have stayed on, and some new ones appointed. Bread will be supplied by nearby SOURCE, for example. The cellar is below the market area, and will be opened up to allow visitors to see their Foudre (6500 liter French oak barrels), of which they have 21. They will offer barrel tastings in future. After Easter they will renovate the Tasting Room, bringing to an end a three-year renewal process at the winery. ‘Brom, brou, en breek’ will be the motto for the next few weeks, but the builders will have strict instructions to clear the site at the end of each week, to allow the market to operate without disturbance.
Part of the transformation was the appointment of winemaker and General Manager Wilhelm Pienaar, who joined the winery from Nederburg two years ago, after the departure of Bartho Eksteen. He has not changed the styles of the wines, but has tweaked them. Wilhelm was on an international marketing trip for the wines, representing the brand internationally. The winery exports 15-20% of its production, but aims to go to 30%. A further 30% is sold through the Tasting Room, and the balance via retail and restaurants. The four best-selling wines internationally are Skoonma Shiraz, Die Marta Rhone blend, Kaalvoet Meisie Sauvignon Blanc, and Swartskaap Cabernet Franc.
The Kaalvoet Meisie Sauvignon Blanc was previously sub-branded No. 7, but the numbering of No. 5 (wood-matured Sauvignon Blanc, now called Kat met die Houtbeen), and No. 7 will fall away. Gerrie described the Kaalvoet Meisie as caring, green, ‘the soul of Sondagskloof’, who grew up on the farm, and never wore shoes! Posmeester has been a ‘lifestyle blend‘, but its 2015 vintage will be launched next year as a Merlot. We spoke about the international trend to increased drinking of Rosé by men and women, and the winery’s Bloos is a Bordeax style red, and each vintage sells out. The Bloos personality is a ‘skaam meisie met die lang bene‘. Next year they are launching Stertswaai, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Semillon. The composition of the new blend will change year on year. Recently they launched Uitlander, a Chardonnay which is exclusively available to their Wine Club members.
All grapes for the Hermanuspietersfontein wines come from a special Wine of Origin appellation Sondagkloof near Napier, and is 45 minutes from the winery. The farm is ‘conscientiously‘ managed, Gerrie said, and is cool climate, being 2ºC cooler than the rest of Walker Bay. Hermanuspietersfontein is best known for its Sauvignon Blanc, and has won Terroir Awards for its Swartskaap Cabernet Franc.
The Stack is an unusual restaurant and members’ club, having opened about four months ago, after a devastating fire forced the closure last year. The building was renovated, and co-owner and interior decorator Sarah Ord did a superb job of refurbishing the interior, the downstairs Bar, as well as Members’ Club upstairs, being decorated in strong colours, making her feel alive, she wrote on Facebook. We visited shortly after the reopening, and wrote a review at the time. Former Tourism Minister Marthinus Van Schalkwyk and his wife also lunched at The Stack on Thursday.
Nigel Pace, co-owner and husband of Sarah, came to greet us at the table, and shared that they are doing well, and that they have had one menu change already, and they have combined the menus for Lunch and Dinner into one. The next menu change will be in October, to be lighter for Spring/Summer. A bread selection of sourdough, baguette, and moreish olive breadsticks, and paprika butter, was brought to the table by waiter Elvis.
We skipped starters, which include French onion soup, beef tartare, duck Rillettes, country terrine, oysters, and salmon Gravadlax, in a price range from R75-R90, and oysters charged at R25 each.
In addition to the dishes offered on the a la carte menu, one can order a plate of the day at R160, and on Thursday it was mash with lamb liver, a favorite of Gerrie, and a childhood memory for me. Chef Warwick King added braised lamb to our dish. Anika had just started a meat and fish free eating program, and chose a delicious-looking dish of cauliflower, with Gruyére cheese gratin, baby fennel, with an Armagnac dressing (R100). Other main courses are line fish, beef bourguignon, pork confit, roast baby chicken, steak frites, and ratatouille, prices ranging from R100 – R175.
We drank the Kaalvoet Meisie Sauvignon Blanc 2015, with high acidity and high minerality on the nose. It needs bottle maturation, to age for 12 – 18 months. French oak fills up the middle of the palate. It has depth, and has been said to make one ‘salivate for the next sip‘.
All three of us selected the same dessert, 70% Valrhona dark chocolate, with Elgin Valley pear tart. Other dessert options are Crème Brûlée, Rum Baba, Tarte au Citron, each costing R65. A selection of three cheeses costs R85, and five cheeses R110. A plate of three Petit Fours costs R45.
It was a long slow lunch, allowing me to get to know Anika, to reconnect with Gerrie, having known each other for many years from the advertising industry, and to meet the Hermanuspietersfontein wine family, and Kaalvoet Meisie in particular. It was a pleasure to lunch at The Stack, an inspirational venue, and its on-site parking is a bonus.
Disclosure: I received a bottle of Kaalvoet Meisie Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Bloos Rosé 2016, and Skoonma Shiraz 2014.
Hermanuspietersfontein, 17 Village Lane, The Village, Hemel en Aarde Road, Hermanus. Tel (028) 316-1875. www.hpf1855.co.za Twitter: @hpf1855
The Stack Restaurant and Members’ Club, Leinster Hall, 7 Weltevreden Street, Gardens, Cape Town. Tel +27 (21) 286-0187 www.thestack.co.za. Twitter: @The StackCPT Instagram @TheStackCPT. Monday – Saturday Lunch and Dinner.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook: click here Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein