Entries tagged with “Franschhoek Cellars”.


Cape Wine Logo (LR)CapeWine 2015 is not just about tasting wine, and meeting the passionate wine makers, but it is also educational, with a series of seminars which have been offered in the Amorim Speakers Corner, which have included wine tastings too.

Each of the seminars are only half an hour long, meaning that speaking is concentrated to 15 minutes and the tasting equally long. Each  winemaker represented wines of a number of wine colleagues, and was not just promoting his own wines. Seating was (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Speculation about the reason for the stepping down of Koos Bekker as CEO of Naspers at the end of last month is that Bekker may be planning to create the world’s largest global internet, media, and digital group.

*   Bloomberg Businessweek has highlighted Cape Town as the jet set holiday destination of celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Oprah Winfrey, paying R50000 per day to stay in the new villa at Ellerman House, which houses owner Paul Harris’ art collection and new Wine Gallery (a serious one, not a six bottle one like that of the petite Pendock Wine Gallery)! Unfortunately the article contrasts the opulence of the villa and its guests with the poverty of the inhabitants of the townships in Cape Town, and highlights the city’s poor reputation as the ‘most violent city in Africa‘!

*   Top UK chef Michel Roux Jnr has resigned from the BBC produced ‘MasterChef: the Professionals’ and ‘Food and Drink‘, describing negotiations with the BBC as a ‘frustrating process’, the corporation not having an appreciation of Roux’s commercial relationships.

*   Moderate wine drinking could help prevent heart attacks and reduce heart-related deaths amongst (more…)

On Wednesday the Slick Group, owners of Balducci’s, Gibson’s Gourmet Burgers & Ribs, and Belthazar, invited the Camps Bay guest house owners and managers for lunch at Balducci’s, to thank them for their support in the past year, to present the newly designed Slick Restaurant Group Loyalty Card, which is aimed at locals in the main, and to share information about the winter specials at Balducci’s and at Gibson’s. This Italian style restaurant has something for everyone, and has a menu with the greatest appetite appeal we have ever seen.

The A5 menu for Season 2013/14 looks like a magazine, with exquisite photography of their dishes, one per section of the menu, making the choice of what to order even harder, as everything on the menu sounds good enough to eat, and the photographs add to the appetite appeal. The second half of the Menu contains the winelist. Like a magazine, the menu is interspersed with advertising, which is not irritating, except that it is a large number of pages (68 in total) to go through when choosing what to eat and to drink.

The menu introduction explains the restaurant’s policy to be more ‘environmentally responsible’, explaining that it uses alien wood in its pizza ovens, it uses vegetables and fruit that are in season, and local ‘superb quality procured meat, poultry, fish and game’. Only fresh chicken is used, and grain-fed 28 day matured beef. Extra virgin award-winning olive oil is used, the menu states. No BYO wine is allowed, and neither is photography (I was not stopped in photographing the dishes for this blogpost), the first time that I have seen photography prohibited in a restaurant. In terms of the new Liquor Act (2013) it is a criminal offence for restaurant patrons to take unfinished bottles of wine, malt or spirits with them when they leave, the menu states.  The menu is printed on Sappi Triple Green recyclable paper.  Select menu items are marked in green as being the owner’s ‘personal healthy option choice’.

The Italian heritage of the restaurant shows in the division of the menu into

*   Antipasti – we shared Antipasti platters (R140) as a starter, which included a Caprese salad, Springbok carpaccio, avocado, tomatoes, butternut, grilled aubergine, grilled chili and garlic calamari, and fresh baked toasted bread.  Other options include Minestrone and Onion soups (R57 each),  prosciutto and melon (R90), tuna tataki (R88), salmon (R55), oysters (SQ), prawns (R40 – R180), as well as eleven salad choices (R75 – R104).

*   Primi Piatti – this section offers burgers (classic, gorgonzola, Swiss cheese, bacon guacamole, luxury lamb, ostrich, vegetarian, and chicken) ranging from R65 – R85; a very extensive sushi selection (the 24 piece Platinum Sushi Plate is a winter special at R109*); 35 pizza options, ranging from R60 – R110; and eleven pasta choices, ranging from R65 – R150.  In winter the prices of pizzas and pastas, with one exception each, have been reduced to R54*.

*   Secondi Piatti – most of us had a different main course, and each plate looked generous, and beautifully presented.  Our intern Lorraine chose the kingklip, which was served on a bed of grilled butternut, aubergine, and green beans, and was topped with parmesan slices, olives and tomatoes (R140). Other fish options are calamari (R95), Norwegian salmon (R159), mussels (R110), crayfish (R90 per 100g), and seafood platters (R345/R695). Corrie praised the Butter Chicken Curry (R150), as the best he has ever tasted.  My Veal Marsala was served with linguine and an excellent light parmesan cream, sautéed mushrooms, and a Marsala sauce (R115). Other meat dishes include veal (most cost R115), game (R180), a variety of steak options (most R160), and lamb shank (R160).  A 250g 28 day matured rump steak is on special during winter at R79*.

*   Dolce – Most desserts cost R59, and their Tiramisu has been a firm favourite for years, the finger biscuits soaked in Espresso and Kahlua, with an Amarula sauce. Other options are chocolate fondant, crème brûlée, malva pudding, ice cream, sorbet and frozen yoghurt, and a white Lindt chocolate cheesecake.

*   Formaggi – a selection of cheeses costs R90.

The winelist section has a large number of advertisements of supplier wine estates.  Each wine region and wine variety is defined and described:

*   ‘Bubbly’ – MCCs offered include Pongrácz NV (R60 per glass/R240 per bottle), Pierre Jourdan Brut NV (R70/R250), L’Omarins Brut Classique NV (R88/R325), Steenberg ‘1682’ Chardonnay 2011 (R350), and De Wetshof NV (R121/R480).  Moët et Chandon costs R650.

*   Bianchi/white wines – an extensive number of wines is offered per variety, eighteen alone for Sauvignon Blanc (from R34 – R68 per glass, and R130 – R280 per bottle).

*   Rossi/Red wines – eight Shiraz options are offered, from R37/R145 for Franschhoek Cellars ‘Baker Station’ 2011 to La Motte’s 2009 Shiraz (R360).

*   ‘Aficionado Lounge‘ – brandy, Calvados, Armagnac, Grappa, port, sherry, beers,  and Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky are offered.

The Slick Loyalty Card was explained to us by Slick Marketing and Reservations Co-ordinator Michelle Page. Patrons receive 10% off their bill on presentation of the Loyalty Card, and a R200 birthday voucher. The Winter Special prices quoted above apply to dishes (marked with * above) ordered between 12h00 – 18h00.

Our Camps Bay guest house group had a most enjoyable lunch at Balducci’s, owner Ian Halfon popping in to greet the group.  The new Winter Specials are great value, for a restaurant that is perceived to be on the expensive side.  In going through the menu for this blogpost, it was a surprise to see how many reasonably-priced dishes it contains.  Service is smart, the serving staff is neatly and professionally dressed, and the location in a quieter section of the V & A Waterfront is an advantage.

POSTSCRIPT 10/6: Michelle has explained the photography policy in greater detail, and food and people photography is allowed: ‘Re photography of the décor, we felt we put a lot of effort into the look and feel of the restaurant. Creating something special.Guests can take pics of food and celebrations and of themselves with pleasure and post and review etc, we have no problem with that‘.

Disclosure:  We received a bottle of Balducci’s Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon House Wine and a small box of Emporio Leone chocolates with the menus of the three Slick Restaurant Group restaurants.

Balducci’s Ristorante Pizza Seafood Bar, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 421 6002. www.balduccis.co.za Twitter: @Balduccis_CT  Monday – Sunday.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

The Stall opened in Franschhoek at the beginning of this month in the old Pippin Farm Stall at the entrance to Franschhoek, alongside Franschhoek Cellars.  It is an informal eatery, serving only Franschhoek wines, and is decorated in French colours.

Owned by Tim Adams, the owner of Essence higher up on the main road, The Stall attracted attention during its renovations.   The building belongs to Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof, and it was rumoured a few years ago that Chef Reuben Riffel would make a steakhouse of it.  The builders shared that three potential tenants had been to see the building: Chef Reuben, Tim, as well as the owner of Kalfi’s.   Whilst Essence concentrates on Breakfast, light lunches and cakes, The Stall is open for lunch and dinner.

There is ample parking, especially in the evening when the Franschhoek Cellars is closed, and outside seating is provided, with a play area for the children.  The branding is not very prominent from the R45, but most of the locals should know where it is by now, many having been invited to attend the opening function, at which a selection of the restaurant’s foods were offered.  The interior is plain, with white Greek style chairs and wooden top tables. A Brugge sign brightens up the interior, Tim not knowing why Marc added this decor touch, not really making sense.  A fireplace will be cosy in winter.  Vases of fresh flowers on the window sills are a nice touch.  One long table with red chairs is for larger groups.  A surprise is material serviettes, with red stitching.   The walls are painted white, and the kitchen wall is tiled in the French colours of blue, white and red, covered with racks for the glasses.  The cutlery is very basic, as are the salt and pepper cellars.

The chef is Marilie van Niekerk, previously of Van Hunks in Cape Town, at the Tsitsikamma Lodge and at Storms River. She is bubbly, and a very good hostess.  On the day we returned to eat there, some of the staff had not arrived at work due to the farmworker unrest outside Franschhoek, for which Chef Marilie apologised profusely, yet the service was good. Her biggest excitement is that the country’s Eat Out Chef of the Year, Margot Janse of The Tasting Room, had been to eat at the restaurant three times already.  Chef Marilie has a herb garden she is developing in wine barrels outside the restaurant. The menu is simple, focused on flat-based pizzas, with interesting topping combinations, such as a delicious spinach, bacon and avocado (R75); an unusual roast lamb, mint, caramelised onion, grilled aubergine and feta (R79); and white anchovy, capers, olives and oregano (R65).  The pizza base is very thin, and I found some of the shards when cut to be very sharp.  For starters one can order a selection of salads, ranging from R49 for Greek salad to R72 for a carpaccio salad.  A variety of burgers is available, made with beef, chicken, vegetables, lamb, and cheese, ranging in price from R65 – R75. Platters are available: cheese with preserves and nuts (R90), antipasti (R120), and mezze (R95).  For the main course one can order a 250 g rib-eye steak with pepper sauce and chips at R95; grilled baby calamari (R85); and pasta dishes. I ate the best ever Tiramisu at The Stall, served in an Illy branded cup, and being thick and creamy (38).  One can also order chocolate pudding, banana split with butterscotch sauce; and pecan nut flap jacks, the dessert prices ranging from R32 – R45.

It is not a surprise that the Wolftrap wine by the glass comes from landlord Boekenhoutskloof, inexpensive at R15 per glass/R65 per bottle for the White, Red, and Rosé.  The sparkling wines offered are a 375ml Graham Beck Cuvee Brut (R110) and Brut Rosé (R180), as well as Pierre Jourdan Cuvée Brut (R150).  No vintages are listed for the wines.  White wines range up to R 160 for the Stony Brook Cask Selection Semillon, and to R280 for Boekenhoutskloof’ The Chocolate Block for the red wines.   The Stall offers a good opportunity to taste a cross-section of wines from fifteen Franschhoek wine estates, including award-winning Chamonix, Glenwood, Lynx, La Bri, La Petite Ferme, and Holden Manz.

The Stall is a friendly, casual, and inexpensive eatery in Franschhoek, likely to be attractive to locals in particular, and to tourists with children.  I have already returned for the Tiramisu!

The Stall, R45, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-4497. Website and Social Media to come.  Monday – Sunday, 12h00 – ‘late-ish‘ (closed on Sunday evenings).

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Franschhoek: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Yesterday the Franschhoek Wine Tram operated for the first time, having been eagerly awaited, after its introduction was announced more than two years ago.  In the first month the Wine Tram will only travel between its starting platform, and Grande Provence and Rickety Bridge, but will expand from 15 December with an additional hop-on hop-off bus service.

We have written previously about the Wine Tram, and its owners David and Sean Blyth, a father and son team who are avid train fans.  They identified the potential to introduce a tram service, a modern built tram based on the Brill Tram design of the 1890’s, as a hop-on hop-off service for tourists and winetasters wanting to taste wines without having to drive themselves.

Having received a newsletter about the new tram service early yesterday, announcing its opening day, my colleague and I made use of a two hour gap before guests arrived to try out the tram.  We thought the station was alongside Franschhoek Cellars, where the tram has been securely parked since it was completed.  It was a little further along, past the old Pippin Farm Stall (soon to open as The Stall), one seeing the tram in an open field, that one reaches by turning left just after The Siding, where Graham Beck now has its marketing offices, and first left again, following a road alongside the track.  It was impressive that we could pay per credit card in the middle of nowhere, receiving an SMS notification of our payment, having been asked for our ‘South African’ cell number!  The tram, sporting French flags, was waiting to depart (every hour, on the hour), and goes to Rickety Bridge first, where one can be picked up every hour, allowing one to spend more than hour there to taste and buy the Rickety Bridge wines, buy from their gift shop, play boules, stay over, and enjoy lunch at their new Paulina’s restaurant.  On the way back, one can get off at Grand Provence, to enjoy their restaurant, art gallery, and tasting room.

The tram track uses that of the original railway that transported wine and fruit from Franschhoek, a line that has been dormant for ten years, an informative commentary spoken by recent new Franschhoek property owner Malcolm Gooding, well-known as a radio and TV voice going back to Springbok Radio days, informed, unfortunately at times inaudible due to some noisy children on board. The tram travels along the tree-lined track, and the vineyards of Grande Provence and Rickety Bridge.  The tram crosses side roads, and must stop at each of these, its staff getting off, and waving red flags, with a hooter going off too.  We were told that clients get on on a first come, first served basis.  No food and drink, nor smoking, is allowed on the tram. An environmentally friendly bio-diesel is used to fuel the tram.

At Rickety Bridge we got onto a 1950’s farm Dodge truck that has been transformed into a vehicle transporting one to the tasting room and restaurant.  One is given a list of eight Rickety Bridge and four Paulina’s Reserve wines, and one is allowed to taste five of these for free, as part of the ticket price of R60. Paulina de Villiers was the first female owner of a wine farm in South Africa in the 1800s, and the wines and restaurant have been named in her honour. We were lucky to find Sales Manager Jackie Rabe and her partner Guy Kedian at the wine estate, and were spoilt with a personalised wine tasting.  Rickety Bridge is the entry level wine range, and is unwooded, while the Paulina’s Reserve range is partially wooded.  Guy shared that Chenin Blanc once made up one third of South Africa’s vine production, and that it was largely used to make brandy, a large part of it consumed in the army. When the compulsory conscription came to an end, the consumption of Brandy & Coke fell dramatically, and many farmers removed their Chenin vines, this varietal only making up 20% of the country’s vine production currently, yet it is still the largest varietal.  Rickety Bridge still has 34 year old chenin vines, which are full of flavour.  Interesting is that Semillon vines dominated 250 years ago, and Franschhoek is particularly well suited to grow this big wine varietal.  Rickety Bridge is best known for its Shiraz.  The Rickety Bridge range consists of Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Chenin Blanc 2011, Semillon 2006, Rosé 2011, Merlot 2008, Pinotage 2011, The Foundation Stone 2010 (made from Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Tannat, and Cinsaut), and Shiraz 2010. The Paulina’s Reserve Range consists of Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Chenin Blanc 2010, Semillon 2008, and Cabernet Sauvignon 2009.

We did not have time to get off at Grande Provence, but the farm tractor with a trailer with seating fetches the guests from the La Provence platform, and transports one down to the wine cellar, the tasting room, the delectable restaurant for which Chef Darren Badenhorst and his team cooks, and an award-winning art gallery, winning Best Art & Culture recently in the Great Wine Capitals Global Network awards.

We are confident that the visitors to Franschhoek will enjoy their outing on the Franschhoek Wine Tram, and at the two inaugural wine estates Grande Provence and Rickety Bridge.  From mid-December the route will expand to include Dieu Donné, Platter Winery of the Year 2013 Cape Chamonix, Haute Cabriere (which will offer a welcome glass of Pierre Jourdan MCC), and the Huguenot Museum, utilising a special bus, also on a hop-on hop-off basis, in conjunction with the Wine Tram.  There is no doubt that current wine tour operators could see the Wine Tram as a competitor.

POSTSCRIPT 18/11: It was impressive that Sean Blyth called on Saturday evening, to obtain feedback about the Wine Tram trip, and has made changes already as a result, for example children may no longer travel unaccompanied by the parents.

POSTSCRIPT 21/12: Sean Blyth sent an update e-mail today: To give you an update, we have had a excellent response from passengers re the service with several positive reviews on Tripadvisor:  http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g469391-d3536165-Reviews-Franschhoek_Wine_Tram-Franschhoek_Western_Cape.html

We are averaging about 50-70 passengers a day at this point and this is with very little marketing. We have also opened our new ticket office in Franschhoek which has been a great way to attract passengers. Top Billing will be doing a segment on the tram with the shoot lined up for mid Jan – this should be great exposure.  We are now getting ready to launch the bus service early next week which will extend the stops from 2 to 6 – will you been in Franschhoek next week to join us as our guest to experience the full product?

POSTSCRIPT 26/12: Today the Franschhoek Wine Tram has announced that the Franschhoek Wine Bus has begun operating, stopping at Chamonix, Dieu Donné, Haute Cabriere, and the Huguenot Museum, in addition to the Tram stops at Rickety Bridge and Grande Provence.

Franschhoek Wine Tram,  Tel (021) 300-0338.  www.winetram.co.za Twitter:@WineTram. Monday – Sunday 10h00 – 17h00.  R60, includes one complimentary wine tasting.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

I have enjoyed chatting to Phillip Aplas since he opened Allora Ristorante, the Italian restaurant at the entrance to Franschhoek, two years ago.   He and his wife Amanda are Greek, and they have created a space on the property for The Olive Shack, which is Amanda’s dedicated focus on olives and olive oil, and is an ode to her Greek heritage.

As one drives into Allora, The Olive Shack lies directly ahead, not visible from the road.  Some newly planted olive trees provide shade to tables outside the olive emporium.   A central table displays all the olive oils they stock – eight brands with many flavour varieties – as well as olives, tapenades, preserves, jams, and soaps.  What one can taste one can also buy.  There is no charge for the tasting. 

Amanda wants to present the best olives and olive oils of South Africa, but most of these are from the Western Cape, she says.  She even heard of an olive oil made in the Karoo recently, so is continuously searching for new additions to her range.   She only opened The Olive Shack three weeks ago.   Greek delicacies such as baklava can also be bought, and a serious-looking coffee-making machine making the best Illy cappuccino in Franschhoek is in the shop. 

One can sit outside on the Allora side of The Olive Shack, or be more private on the parking side, sitting under the olive trees.   Amanda has also introduced a Breakfast Menu for The Olive Shack, a Greek tapas and mezze menu, and picnics are also supplied.   One can order light lunches, including lasagne, cannelloni, panzerotti, mousaka, freshly-made spaghetti and fettucini, and sauces.  She will add kebabs and pancakes in future.

In chatting to Phillip, it is clear that he is dedicated to his restaurants, and is hands-on, one of few restaurant owners in Franschhoek to be so.   He says that they have not increased their prices since they opened, and the menu is the same as the opening one.   The Allora branches in Bedfordview and Sandton have higher prices, and are run by Phillip’s brother.

The Olive Shack tables are covered in brown paper, over a white table cloth, in Greek style.   They look a bit messy on the car park entrance, as the wind lifts up the paper.   The menu is printed in green and laminated, and one’s first reaction is disbelief at the low prices of the mezzes.   I was brought a beautifully designed glass water jug to the table, with lots of slices of lemon.   Olive oil and balsamic vinegar was brought to the table, in glass bottles, and the brand of olive oil used was one I had not heard of before, being Porcupine Hills from Elgin.  

While I had not ordered it, Amanda sent ciabatta made with olives to the table, as well as the three mezzes of Tzadziki (their spelling) (R10), grilled halloumi (R20) and grilled pickled octupus (R25), in addition to which came a container of olive oil as well as an olive tapenade, all served on two wooden boards.    It was a feast, which cost a mere R55 in total, which Amanda did not want to take payment for, but I insisted.   The squid was served chilled, which made it refreshing, not only due to its temperature but also its marinade of vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and oreganum.  Other mezzes one can order out of the list of eighteen include hummus, melitzanosalata, grilled aubergine rolls stuffed with feta cheese, grilled brinjals and baby marrows, tiropita, and keftedes, all costing R20 or less.   Ciabatta costs R10 for a basket.  A variety of salads can be ordered, and range in price from R45 – R65.   Paninis with toppings such as smoked salmon trout, roast lamb, and chicken and avocado cost between R 50 – R75.   Desserts range from R25 – R42, and include baklava, chocolate mousse, fruit salad and yoghurt, and sorbets.   Breakfast of free-range scrambled eggs served with salmon, cold meats or feta and halloumi costs R35, or R29 if served with bacon.

Picnic baskets can be pre-ordered, costing R105 per person for the Alfresco Picnic, consisting of a small bottle of water, dips, cold meats, olives and tapenade, Greek salad, French loaf, olive ciabatta, chicken kebabs, fruit, and chocolate brownies. A Gourmet Picnic costs R360 for two persons, which includes a Franschhoek Cellars wine, mineral water, a tapas selection, dips, smoked salmon roses, French loaf, olive ciabatta, Caprese salad, chicken and prawn skewers, a cheese platter, strawberries and chocolate brownies.  Both picnic options offer a generous food selection. 

A small wine list of 17 Franschhoek wines is available, and the wines are very reasonably priced.  Six wines by the glass are available, and cost R28/R85 for Franschhoek Cellars Chenin Blanc, The Churchyard Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc; Eikehof Chardonnay; and Franschhoek Pass Rosé.  The L’Omarins Protea Red costs R35/R115.   Solms Astor Cape Jazz is the only Shiraz available.

I loved the informality and friendliness of The Olive Shack, the authentic Greek mezzes served, and the excellent cappuccino.   It is excellent value for money.   I will be back.

The Olive Shack,  Allora Restaurant, 58 Main Road, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-4375.  www.allora.co.za (No dedicated website for the The Olive Shack, and not mentioned on the Allora website).  Open Monday – Sunday, 9h00 – 17h00.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage

We recently created the concept of a Franschhoek Restaurant Route” in a blog post, to highlight the restaurant gems in Franschhoek, a village that has worn the Gourmet Capital crown to date.   Given that Stellenbosch has not actioned the “Stellenbosch Restaurant Route”,  a concept we created in a blog post too, Franschhoek is taking the high ground, and is combining its two major attractions, to form the Franschhoek Wine Valley Food and Wine Route from next year.

Franschhoek is not only incorporating food and wine in the Route, but is also planning to include cultural, art,  shopping, outdoor and scenic experiences into the Franschhoek Food and Wine Route.  An ‘e-commerce’ website is being built, allowing visitors to Franschhoek to book their “experiences” on-line.   Members of the Franschhoek Wine Valley Tourism Association do not pay to be included in the Food and Wine Route, but pay 10 % commission for bookings received via the site.

The following categories will be included in the Franschhoek Wine Valley Food and Wine Route (a mouthful at the moment, hopefully the ‘Wine Valley” will be dropped from the name over time):

*   Food:  signature dishes, award-winning restaurants, traditional cuisine, cooking classes, picnics, private dinners, including restaurants such as The Restaurant at Grand Provence, Pierneef Ã  La Motte, Reuben’s, Solms-Delta’s Fyndraai Restaurant, Allée Bleue, Le Franschhoek’s Verger, and many more.

*   Wine: red wine, white wine and MCC tastings; vertical, varietal and component tastings; barrel tastings; personalised cellar tours, at wine estates such as Graham Beck, Allée Bleue, Boekenhoutskloof, Colmant, Cabriere, La Motte, Grand Provence, Boschendal, Lynx, Solms Delta, Stony Brook, Chamonix and Vrede & Lust.

*   Food and wine pairings: including Vrede & Lust, Plaisir de Merle, Solms-Delta, Maison, Grande Provence, Mont Rochelle, Cabriere, Manz Holden, and Graham Beck

*   Local produce: olives, olive oil, cheese, bread, beer, schnapps, and salmon, sold at the Salmon Bar, Rupert & Rothschild, Vrede & Lust, Allée Bleue, Allora’s The Olive Shack, and Le Bourgogne

*   Deli’s and farm shops:La Cotte Inn, Allée Bleue, Franschhoek Cellars, Boschendal, L’ermitage, The Jam Jar, La Motte

*   Retail shopping: Cooksensuals

*   Art galleries, such as Grande Provence, David Walters’ ceramics’ studio, and the art collection at Ebony

*   Outdoor and scenic experiences

*   Accommodation

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter @WhaleCottage

The Winelands is clearly seen to be a geographic area with money, if the launch of two lifestyle publications is anything to go by.  Last month the Spring 2010 edition of Franschhoek Style was launched, while winestyle was introduced to bloggers and to potential advertisers earlier this month, its launch Summer 2011 issue expected in December.  Both publications are published quarterly and are offered free of charge.

Franschhoek Style is the brainchild of the publishers Schäfer Media, owners of the Franschhoek Tatler, being Barry Phillips and Siegfried Schaefer, and is described by them as “a magazine reflecting the good life in Franschhoek”.   The publication is a glossy, coffee-table type, which one can leave in a guest house lounge as well as look forward to reading, in being informative about Franschhoek.  The editor is Helen Naude, who manages the Franschhoek community radio station.  The first issue contains an impressive number of ads, given the state of the economy, from tour operator &Beyond, Akademie Street Guest Houses, Oyster (wood-based designs), Le Franschhoek Hotel & Spa, TAGHeuer, Solms Delta, Mont Rochelle, Franschhoek Cellars, Peacock Blue, Ebony decor shop, The Sofa Studio, The Diamond Works, Viglietti Motors, Franschhoek Manor, Ashbourne House, Indian Summer, Le Bon Vivant, Paarlberg BMW , Rusthof, Auberge La Dauphine, Seeff, Graham Beck and Investec.   What is missing from the list is Le Quartier Francais, a surprise as it is usually the first to hijack prominence in a Franschhoek publication.  The design by Virtual Da Vinci Creative Room is clean, and the thick paper and glossy finish make this publication top quality, reflective of what Franschhoek stands for.

Editorial offers shopping advice for wines and decor items to be found in Franschhoek; a ‘Spring Diary’ listing events; a review of Fyndraai Restaurant at Solms Delta; a Franschhoek Uncorked overview of the wines of the wine estates that participated in the festival; a write-up of the prestigious and best accommodation in Franschhoek, being La Residence (at which Elton John stays when in the Cape); an article about the effect of fires on fynbos;  a write-up of Rickety Bridge; Franschhoek wine profiles; “Three perfect days in Franschhoek”;  a profile of entrepreneur Mike Bosman; a feature on the art galleries in Franschhoek; an article on the La Motte Mountain Meander, on which one can spot baboons and blushing brides; a write-up on the BMW 5 series; a write-up of Le Jardinet;  a profile of Minnie Pietersen, who heads up the Youth Empowerment Action project for street children in Franschhoek; a book review page; and a write-up of Sante’s Wellness Centre.  What is commendable is that a digital version of the magazine is available, and is quick to download and easy to page through and read, unlike Crush!, the digital food and wine magazine, that is still struggling with technical problems, including its first page, which does not open. 

As I typed this blog post, I had the sinking feeling that most of the publication’s editorial in fact was advertorial, with either being an exchange for advertising placed, or straight paid-for advertorials.   Readers today are smart, in identifying such advertorial, which is not disclosed nor marked as such, and lowers the credibility of the publication, no matter how well designed and glossy it is, and could therefore make it unattractive for guest houses to stock.   Franschhoek Style: www.franschhoekstyle.co.za

winestyle is a publication of the Manta Media group, publishers of a collection of seemingly unrelated magazines, being winestyle, surfing and diving.  Jenny Ratcliffe is the editor of the magazine, a most suitable person given her family’s Warwick ownership.   Not surprisingly, the launch of the magazine was held at Warwick.   What is refreshing about the publishing of magazines by Manta Media is that it is so environmentally friendly.  Instead of publishing x number of copies every quarter, it is printed on demand, after one registers for free.  The magazine is then posted to the readers, which means that the publishers are efficient about the number of copies they print, and there is no wastage.   This results from the niche publishing company asking itself: “how  should magazines be published in the digital age?”   By registering its readers in a database, the publishers of winestyle will send regular news updates to its reader database by e-mail, keeping them informed weekly about wine news.  For advertisers the benefit of this publishing approach is of immense benefit in that the readers are winelovers who request to subscribe by registering, giving quality readership.  winestyle will not be available for sale in retail outlets, to maintain its reader focus.   An online shop will sell the products of the magazine’s advertisers.   The most expensive advertisement, a 3-page inside front cover gatefold, costs R 11700 exclusive of VAT.   winestyle: www.mantamedia.co.za

Chris von Ulmenstein: Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage

For the third year running, twenty of Franschhoek’s wine farmers are inviting wine and food lovers to visit their wine estates this coming Saturday and Sunday (4 and 5 September), to taste their new vintages, to eat specialities from the Gourmet capital of South Africa, and to enjoy French-style activities over a weekend of food, fun and wine.

Tickets for Franschhoek Uncorked cost R80 each, and can be bought at Computicket, or at any participating wine estate.  The full programme offered by the 20 wine estates is as follows:

*   Vrede & Lust will have a cigar lounge, Aston Martins will be on display, chocolate can be tasted and diamonds will sparkle

*   Plaisir de Merle will serve more of their lovely pancakes, offer live music, and for the first time offer bread made from flour ground in a historic water mill on the wine estate.

*   Allee Bleue will offer live jazz, and a tasting of their new Brut Rose’.  Smoked salmon croissants, Flammkuchen, Chicken Tandoori wraps, and Shrimp Guacamole wraps will be available for sale.

*   Solms-Delta will offer “Kaapse” music, food, and wine.

*   L’Ormarins has the Franschhoek Motor Museum on its property, will make its Antonij Rupert Protea and Terra del Capo wines available for tasting, boules can be played, and gourmet sandwiches can be bought

*   Graham Beck will offer its Methode Cap Classique bubblies as well as wines to taste, and oysters, cheese and charcuterie platters will be available to eat.  Winemakers Pieter Ferreira and Erika Obermeyer will host masterclasses at R 75 a head, on Saturday and Sunday, at 10h00 and 14h00

*   Lynx Wines will have a Spanish Fiesta theme again, and live Spanish music will be played.  Tapas served include serrano ham and calamari

*   Topiary Wines will release their Rose 2009 and their Cabernet Sauvignon 2007. Visitors can blend their own wines. Live music is offered.

*   La Chataigne offers boules and live entertainment

*   Moreson offers live music, and a food market

*   Maison is the newest Franschhoek wine estate, and belongs to Chris Weylandt of Weylandt’s, and is now also a winemaker.   Food, jazz and wines will be offered.

*   La Motte’s new and Franschhoek’s latest restaurant Pierneef a La Motte offers Cape Winelands cuisine, a Farm Shop sells wines, gifts and farm-baked bread.   The new La Motte Art Gallery, one of the rooms dedicated to the priceless paintings by Pierneef, has opened, and a classical guitar recital will be hosted on Saturday evening.

*   Glenwood will host a Boules Trophy, and is pairing its wines with gourmet food prepared by Camil and Ingrid Haas, previously of Bouillabaisse and Camil’s, serving Bouillabaisse, Chicken Curry and Crepe Suzette.

*   Rickety Bridge offers tapas too, and its Top 10 Shirazes.  Live music, boules, as well as farm rides in their Dodge truck are also available.

*   Grande Provence offers live music, five vintages will be paired with five dishes, a Chef’s Table is offered, and the Grande Provence Pinot Noir will be launched.  Cheese and charcuterie boards will be available.

*   Franschhoek Cellars offer cheese and wine tastings, as well as cheese lunches

*   Dieu Donne offers live music, Vineyard platters, “wine-infused casual food”, and micro-beer on tap

*   Cabriere offers a wine tour and tasting, with a Sabrage, at 11h00 on Saturday and Sunday

*  La Petite Ferme offers wine tours, and salmon and wine pairing at R120.

*   Boekenhoutskloof will launch The Chocolate Block 2009, a band will provide the “gees” and Reuben Riffel will offer his famous Reuben’s Barbeque Experience.

Further details can be obtained from the Franschhoek Tourism Bureau, Tel (021) 876-3603.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

Franschhoek was largely booked out as far as its accommodation is concerned over the Women’s Day weekend earlier this month, thanks to the law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (ENS), which chose Franschhoek for its annual staff and family get-together.   The law firm is one of the largest in Africa, with more than 360 legal, tax and forensic practitioners, and has branches in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Stellenbosch and Durban.

 

The booking probably was the largest group booking ever for Franschhoek, and the law company’s contribution to Franschhoek can easily be estimated at about R 500 000 over the two day period.   The economic contribution to Franschhoek may well be double that, if shopping at wine cellars and shops, as well as additional services rendered, is added.   Air and bus transportation will have benefitted the broader economy too.

 

“At ENS we are very aware of the importance of our people and, aside from many employee benefits, we also hold an annual retreat where all professionals, plus their families, are accommodated at a special locale.  The aim of these retreats is to, firstly, thank our professionals and their families who support them through the stresses of daily life and, secondly, to give everyone an opportunity to truly unwind in a setting outside of their normal environment” said Amanda Framcke, Marketing Team Leader: Events at ENS.    

 

“This year we were pleased to choose Franschhoek as the firm was looking for somewhere different to their usual venues which were more resort-like.  This retreat had a different feel to it and was exactly what we were looking for.  Franschhoek offers not only beauty but an array of exciting options all in a secluded area with a quaint small town feel.  It’s a wonderful place to relax and unwind and enjoy the many options it has to offer” she added.

 

ENS has an in-house marketing and events team that organises all events, including accommodation and flight bookings, catering, entertainment and anything else that is needed to make an event a success.  “This retreat involved approximately 280 adults which consisted of our practitioners and senior services team, as well as spouses and roughly 50 children.  This meant extensive arrangements and we were thrilled with the support we received from the various places of accommodation and other venues we used.  Because of the size of the group and special dietary requirements, we used an external caterer for all meals other than breakfast which everyone enjoyed at their place of accommodation.  We did, however, have lunch at Haute Cabriere on the Sunday of the long weekend which was a special highlight of the trip”.

 

Not only did ENS staff and their families stay in Franschhoek at 15 of the town’s guesthouses and four hotels, but suppliers did as well.  Watershed, a band performing for the group in the town hall on one of the evenings, was accommodated at Whale Cottage Franschhoek.

 

“Our programme for the weekend included spa activities, horse riding and quadbiking at Rheebokskloof, a mosiac workshop, fishing at La Ferme, bicycle hire, cheese and wine tasting at Franschhoek Cellars, chocolate tasting and visits to the ice cream shop.  We would like to also mention our appreciation for the transport company we used in Franschhoek (Eddie), the Municipal Officials and the local businesses for their participation and hospitality”.  Lunches and dinners were served for the ENS group in the Town Hall, an outside catering company having been appointed.

 

“The response from our practitioners and their families has been extremely favourable with many commenting that they would like to return to Franschhoek for our next retreat.  It is fair to say that this was one of our most popular getaways yet.” 

 

Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com