Tag Archives: Werner Els

Restaurant Review: Long Table needs some polishing, but food excellent

I had heard about the Long Table Restaurant and Cafe on the Haskell Vineyards outside Stellenbosch on Twitter, and tried it out recently.  I left overwhelmed by the unexpected quality of the food, matching the stature of the wine estate.  However, not all is perfect.  With some better-polished service staff, and some attention to its table presentation and housekeeping, it can rank with the best Stellenbosch restaurants.

Haskell Vineyards is at the end of the Annandale Road near Mooiberge Farmstall, high above and beyond Rust en Vrede.    I was impressed how three competitive wine farms (Rust en Vrede, Haskell and Bilton) have a collegial co-existence in sharing the security for the communal entrance to their farms. 

One cannot see the entrance to the restaurant from the parking area, as the restaurant signage is set back too far above the entrance door.   One enters a reception area, that of the restaurant on the left, and that of the winery on the right.   I was greeted by Corli as I entered, but I did not realise that she was the chef.  Using the bathroom first (door lock does not work on the middle door), I then connected with Werner Els, who does the wine tasting and sales, and he answered my question about the relationship between Dombeya and Haskell.

Dombeya was originally the name of the farm, and was known as a mohair wool farm and factory.  It also had grapes, and the wines made were branded Dombeya, a Latin family name for the wild pear, which is found on the farm.  Preston Haskell bought the farm earlier this decade, and introduced the Haskell wine label from 2007, when highly regarded winemaker Rianie Strydom started making the wines.   The Haskell wines are super-premium ones, selling at high prices.  The wine estate also represents PHD Wines, selling their Australian and New Zealand wine brands from the wine estate and from select retailers such as Caroline’s Fine Wines and Norman Goodfellow’s.   Werner told me that the new restaurant is pulling in feet through the door, and leading to wine sales since it opened five months ago.  Previously one had to make an appointment to taste the estate’s wines.

Werner showed me around the restaurant, demonstrating the collegiality that exists between the restaurant and wine sales, and I only learnt afterwards that Corli Els (no relation) is the chef and owner of Long Table, and leases the restaurant space from the winery.  The long table is in the last section of the restaurant, a beautiful wooden table that can seat about 20 persons.  Here they host regular Winemakers’ lunches.   Blackboards list the wines and menu items inside.   I noticed some odd looking lampshades, made from beads, but preferred to focus on the view from the terrace outside on a lovely summery winter’s day.

The outside area is large, with many tables and chairs, the trees providing shade if required.   The wooden tables and chairs are garden furniture, and the waiter brought a cushion for my chair after I had sat down. The waiter was an irritation – he kept wanting to talk to me in Afrikaans.  I found him extremely lightweight, and not a credit to the restaurant nor the wine estate.  I found it hard to understand what he was trying to tell me, and the pork belly which I ordered without chickpeas was served with chick peas!  It took him forever to bring the bill (there were only 2 tables in total booked for lunch).

Chef Corli was previously from Pretoria, and last worked at Ernie Els’ (no relation) Guardian Peak restaurant close by.  She has also worked at Hazendal, and owned the Fusion Cafe’s in Observatory and in Stellenbosch, but sold them.

Corli bakes her own bread (I loved the whole wheat bread), and is excited that the farm is creating an organic vegetable and herb garden for her.   I ordered the Avocado and papaya salad served as a stack with Black Forest ham, with a yummy dressing, and finished off with a pansy – I have not seen one on food for years.  I loved the salad, and the look of it, and I would come back again just for it alone!     The main course choice was pork belly, costing R98, served with a generous portion of creamy mash, crispy fresh vegetables, a tangy orange sauce and fine orange rind (and the unwanted chickpeas!).

The menu and winelist are attached onto unattractive clipboards, and could be more attractively presented.  The menu has an eclectic mix and a good number of dishes to choose from.  For Starters one can have beef carpaccio; lamb kidneys; fresh corn, or pear and camembert soup; a “super foods” salad or crunchy Caprese parcels, costing between R 50 – R60.  There are 14 “Light Meals and Main Courses”, in what seems a waste to have all ingredients available for so few people.  One can have a chicken salad; Beef Burger (with all sorts of yummy-sounding additions like wild mushrooms, prosciutto, onion confit, mustard bearnaise, for R70); beef strips; cajun chicken sandwich; farfalle pasta;  mushroom ravioli; lamb medallions; duck breasts; spiced quail; fresh linefish; grainfed sirloin steak;  Moroccan lamb shank, and oxtail braised in red wine.  All of these range from R 59 to R 105 for the last two dishes.   Two specials were also available, kingklip at a reasonable sounding R85, and Springbok at R108.  When speaking to Corli, she told me that preparing venison is one of her food favourites.   I did not have a dessert, but will do so on a next visit, most costing a reasonable R35.  Chocolate fondant, pecan nut praline cheesecake, confit apple tart and malva pudding are some of the options.  There is a Kiddies Menu, with “Foodies”, and “Goodies”(the sweets) to choose from.  The menu is changed every 2 -3 months.

The winelist is disappointing, only having one page of local wines, with unforgivable vintage corrections made by pen (commendably though the vintages have been changed to older rather than younger ones!).  “Riesling” is incorrectly spelt.  The remainder of the five pages lists imported wines, which are the Australian and New Zealand PHD wines.   The Australian wine brands are Hoddles Creek, Kalleske, and Spinifex, and are in line with South African prices, the Spinifex Shiraz Viognier being most expensive at R 435.  The New Zealand wines sold are Craggy Range, Felton Road, Lawsons Dry Hills and Wild Rock, the prices not being unreasonable – the Craggy Range The Quarry Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend the most expensive at R475. No vintages are specified for the PHD wines.   Dombeya wines can be bought from R60 upwards (Sauvignon Blanc), the Shiraz being most pricey at R 96.  The Haskell wines are far more expensive, the Aeon Syrah costing R 290, and the Pillars Syrah R 400, both being 2007 vintages.  The Dombeya wines are marked up by R20 each in the restaurant, the Haskell ones are not.  A glass of Dombeya Sauvignon Blanc costs R25, and the Samara costs R30.

The “Cafe” part of the restaurant name refers to the freshly baked cakes, muffins, scones and tarts that are served before and after lunch.

I will come back in a flash for the Avocado and papaya salad, and was most impressed with Chef Corli’s food, and good value.  I found a number of dissonances between the high quality of the Haskell Vineyards’ brands and the image they are creating, and Long Table’s far more casual decor, the laid back and less than adequate service from the waiter, the lack of table coverings, and the unattractive and unprofessional winelist, making the Long Table feel amateurish in almost all respects, other than in the high quality of Chef Corli’s food.

Long Table Restaurant and Cafe, Haskell Vineyards, Annandale Road, Stellenbosch.  Tel (021)  881-3746. www.longtable.co.za. (The website is a model website for a restaurant – lots of beautiful photographs create appetite appeal and demonstrate Chef Corli’s food presentation skills, winelist and menu available, and I even saw some recipes on the Haskell website.  Beautiful presentation of information – a pity this appetite appeal is not reflected in the actual menu and winelist).   Tuesday – Sunday 8h00 – 17h00.  Breakfast and Lunch.   On the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route.

POSTSCRIPT 8/8:  I returned to the Long Table for lunch today.  Disappointingly, the winelist still has handwritten changes, and the Avocado & Papaya Salad did not have the salad dressing, which made the salad so tasty on my last visit.   I had a taste of the Mushroom Ravioli, which was outstanding, and I loved the presentation and taste of the Apple Tart, even though the portion was small.  The winelist did have vintages for the imported wines offered today, but the copy I saw on my first visit did not.

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

Introducing the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route!

Stellenbosch has always been top of the pops as far as its wine selection and quality goes (i.e. wines winning awards), but has played poor cousin to Franschhoek for many years when it comes to its restaurant status, that is until recently, when the Eat Out Top 10 restaurant list included more Top 10 restaurants in Stellenbosch (Rust en Vrede, Overture and Terroir) than in Franschhoek (The Tasting Room and The Restaurant at Grande Provence).  Stellenbosch has always been the best marketed collective wine region, and was the first to introduce the Wine Route concept, which has been adopted by most wine-growing regions now.

My visit to Stellenbosch last week, to experience recently opened restaurants, confirmed my view that Stellenbosch by rights now should be called the Gourmet Capital of South Africa, not only due to the Eat Out Top 10 listings, but also in terms of the newer restaurants bubbling under.  I believe that the tourism authority should be ahead of the game, and introduce a Restaurant Route for Stellenbosch, given the wealth of its creative and gourmet talent.   It is easy to see that opening good quality restaurants on wine estates is a growing trend in Stellenbosch, and is good for business, as Werner Els told me at Haskell Vineyards, its Long Table restaurant leading to wine sales from restaurant patrons.

My recommendation for the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route is the following, based on own experience and recommendations.  It is not comprehensive.  I have added links to the restaurant listings that I have reviewed, and reviews of the newer restaurants will be published shortly.

Rust en Vrede – probably the best restaurant in the town currently, a slick operation, run by modest but talented chef David Higgs, on the Rust en Vrede wine estate.  Featured on the Eat Out Top 10 list 2009 and 2010, number 74 on 50 Best Restaurants in the World 2010 list, and Top vineyard restaurant of 2010 Great Wine Capitals in the World – read the review here.  Tel (021) 881-3881  CHEF DAVID HIGGS LEFT THE RESTAURANT ON 25 JUNE, NOW WORKING AT RADISSON’S BLU GAUTRAIN HOTEL IN JOHANNESBURG. 

*   Overture – Chef Bertus Basson is a hard-working re-inventor of his menu and operation, always looking to improve his complete package.   On the Eat Out Top 10 restaurant list for 2009 and 2010.  Fantastic views from the location on the Hidden Valley wine estate – read the review here.  Tel (021) 880-2721

*   Terroir does nothing for me, I must admit, and therefore I do not understand that it is a perennial on the Eat Out Top 10 list (2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 – the Terroir website does not list the awards after 2006, so some awards may have been left out!).  I have been there a number of times, and have not been excited about its menu, restaurant interior, and service.  The outside seating on the De Kleine Zalze wine and golf estate is great for a warm day.  Tel (021) 880-8167

*   Restaurant Christophe – Die Skuinshuis is the setting for this exceptional restaurant, Chef Christophe Dehosse being the hands-on owner and chef, who talks to his customers in his charming French accent, a rare treat in restaurants.  The foie gras, served with toasted brioche, is to die for – read the review here.  Tel. (021) 886-8763. THE RESTAURANT CLOSED DOWN ON 24 JUNE.

*   Delaire at Delaire Graff –  no money was spared in building and decorating this restaurant and winery building, and it houses a most impressive art collection.   Chef Christian Campbell is doing outstanding work, and his crayfish lasagne is exceptional.  Turnover of staff has reduced the quality of service  – read our latest review     Tel (021) 885-8160

*   Indochine at Delaire Graff – this is the newest Stellenbosch restaurant, and is relatively less opulent in its interior design compared to its sister restaurant.   Young chef Jonathan Heath is a star to watch, and his Asian fusion menu is sure to attract the attention of the Eat Out Top 10 judges.   He explains the menu, and the dishes when he serves them personally.  The two course special at R225 sounds expensive, but it does not reflect the amuse bouche, sorbet and sweet treats (with cappuccino) one receives at no extra charge.  The Tikka Duck Marsala starter is excellent –  read our review.  Tel (021) 885-8160

Restaurant at Majeka House –the restaurant is overshadowed by the Boutique Hotel in terms of its branding, and is not known to most foodlovers, a hidden gem in Paradyskloof, a suburb opposite the Stellenbosch Golf Course.   Its young Chef Anri Diener trained at Tokara and Delaire, and is a rising star, presenting exciting French cuisine.  The Millefeuille of chocolate mousse served with coffee meringue bars is to die for – Read the review.  Tel (021) 880-1512

*   Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine –  a mouthful of a brand name but also a mouthful in value and excellent quality, a far cry from Jardine, which he co-owns in Cape Town, but rarely still cooks at.  It is set at the end of a long road, on the Jordan wine estate, overlooks a big pond and the beautiful Stellenbosch mountains in the far distance, teeming with birdlife.  Interior functional, as in Cape Town.  Most beautiful and unique “bread” plate ever seen.   Read the review.  Tel (021) 881-3612

*   The Long Table Restaurant and Cafe – set at the end of a long road up a hill, above Rust en Vrede, on the Haskell Vineyards (marketers of Haskell and Dombeya wines), the food of Chef Corli Els is a wonderful surprise.  The restaurant interior and waiter service do not match the excellence of her food or the quality of the Haskell wines. The Papaya and Avo salad stands out as one of the special treats I enjoyed last week.   Read the Review.  Tel (021) 881-3746

*   The Big Easy – set on Dorp Street with some parking, and owned by Ernie Els and Johan Rupert, the restaurant is large, but divided into different rooms, allowing private functions.  Average food, below average service generally.  Sweet Service Award.  tel (021) 887-3462

*   Warwick wine estate – owner Mike Ratcliffe is a good marketer, and his gourmet picnics, designed by Chef Bruce Robertson, and prepared by their chef Bruce, are a great hit in summer.  Winter warmer foods available too – read the picnic review here.  Tel (021) 884-3144

*   Nook Eatery – has been operating for a year, and has developed a reputation for good value, healthy (organic where possible) and wholesome food.  Restaurant location in ‘League of Glory’ TV series, and next door to Restaurant Christophe.  Good value buffet lunch, Wednesday pizza evenings, and sweet treats throughout the day.  Hands-on owners Luke and passionate Chef Jess do not open the Eatery if they are not there themselves.  Read the review here.  tel (021) 887-7703  

*   Tokara DeliCATessen – has a buffet lunch too, very large restaurant space combined with a deli, but service poor and food quality average – read the review here.   Tel (021) 808-5950

*   Eight at Spier – the menu was designed by Judy Badenhorst, ex-River Cafe, and now running the Casa Labia Cafe in Muizenberg.  Have not read much about it, and not experienced yet.   Tel (021) 809-1188

*   Melissa’s on Dorp Street – a perennial favourite, with a limited menu and standardised across all the branches.  Fresh and wholesome foods, service not always great.  Sour Service Award Tel (021) 887-0000

Wild Peacock Food Emporium on Piet Retief Street (ex Okasie) – this is the newest eatery to open, belongs to Sue Baker and is managed by ex-Rust en Vrede front of house manager and daughter Sarah, selling deli items, a range of cold meats, imported French and local cheese, fresh breads, and has a sit-down menu as well.    Review to follow.  Tel 082 697 0870

*   Mila, The Cake Shop– this must be the tiniest eatery interior in Stellenbosch, next door to The Big Easy, but it is crammed full of the most delectable cakes and pastries.  Service not great when sitting outside.  Review to follow.  Tel 074 354 2142.

*   Cupcake – serves a range of cupcakes, but not as wide a variety as one would expect.  Good sandwiches and cappuccino, pretty square with water feature in which to sit.  No review written.  Tel (021) 886-6376

*   Umami – set in the Black Horse Centre on Dorp Street, this restaurant had not wowed me, but serves satisfactory lunches and dinners.   No review written, and I rarely hear anyone talk about it.  Tel (021) 887-5204

*   Wijnhuis – located on Andringa Street, in the vicinity of tourism outlets.  Given its name, it should be very popular in this town, and given the connection to its namesake in Newlands, and its parental link to La Perla, it should offer a lot better food quality and service than it does.  Not reviewed, and would not recommend.  Tel (021) 887-5844

  Pane E Vino – this food and wine bar is hidden to those who do not come to Bosman’s Crossing.  Owned by Elena Dalla Cia, husband George and father-in-law Giorgio do wine and grappa tastings in the restaurant too.  Good Italian fare. Not reviewed yet.  Tel (021) 883-8312 

*   Cafe Dijon – French-style bistro on Plein Street.  One experience not satisfactory due to owner not being there.  Rated by JP Rossouw of Rossouw’s Restaurants.  Tel (021) 886-7023

*   Bodega @Dornier – I have not been to this restaurant on the Dornier wine estate, and have not read any reviews yet.  Tel (021) 880-0557

*   Cuvee Restaurant, Simonsig – Interesting Cape Dutch modernist interior curation by Neil Stemmet. Excellent quality food, Simonsig wines, napery, cutlery, tableware, stemware, and service.  Read the Review Tel (021) 888-4932

*   De Oude Bank Bakkerij, Church Street – newly opened, opposite Vida e Caffe, this artisan bakery and cafe allows one to order from a list of cold meats, cheese and preserves what one wants to eat with the breads they sell.  Read the review.  Tel (021) 883- 2188  

*   Tokara – Etienne Bonthuys has left Tokara, and Richard Carstens is said to be stepping in his shoes, when his contract with Chez d’Or in Franschhoek finishes in September (he left in July already). Tokara denied that Carstens is taking over the restaurant lease.   It has now (30/7) been confirmed that Jardine’s Wilhelm Kuehn is taking over Tokara, and that Richard Carstens will be the Executive Chef.  Opened on 19/10.  Read the review. Tel (021) 808-5959.

*   Towerbosch Earth Kitchen on the Knorhoek wine estate. Lovely fairy-like setting, fantastic Boerekos feast served in bowls rather than dishing up per plate.  Read the review.   Tel (021) 865-2114.

*   Stellenbosch Slow Food Market, Oude Libertas – previously the Bosman’s Crossing Market, it moved to Oude Libertas late last year.    Good quality and often organic foods, not quite as top level and exciting as in its previous location, only open on Saturdays

*   Casparus is the name of Etienne Bonthuys’ new restaurant on Dorp Street, an amazing marriage between the cuisine creativity of Bonthuys and the interior design creativity of partner Strijdom van der Merwe.  There is no restaurant like this in South Africa!   Read the review.   Tel (021) 882-8124.

*   Johan’s at Longridge is a refreshing new restaurant on Longridge Winery, with a focus on fresh vegetables from its large vegetable garden alongside the restaurant.  Co-owner Chef Johan comes from a Michelin two-star restaurant in Holland, as does Chef Marissa.  Attentive service led by Chris Olivier, excellent food, great wines.  Read the review.   Tel (021) 855-2004 

*  de Huguenot, on De Huguenot Estate in Johannesdal, Pniel, is a superb fine-dining restaurant which opens in July, headed up by Chef Tanja Kruger, a member of the South African Culinary Olympic team.  Beautiful view onto Groot Drakenstein mountains.  Read the review.

POSTSCRIPT 17/10:  The Top 20 finalists for the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards were announced at the end of last month, and the list contains five Stellenbosch restaurants (compared to only two from Franschhoek):  Rust en Vrede, Overture, Terroir, Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine, and Restaurant Christophe.   The Top 10 winners will be announced on 28 November.

POSTSCRIPT 29/11:  Stellenbosch now wears the Gourmet Capital crown, with four Eat Out Top 10 restaurants:  Overture, Rust & Vrede (now South Africa’s number one restaurant and top chef David Higgs), Terroir, and Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine.

POSTSCRIPT 15/4:  It has been announced that David Higgs has resigned, and will leave Rust en Vrede mid-June.

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

Franschhoek winemakers resilient to credit crunch

The Franschhoek Month asked the Vignerons of Franschhoek what effect the recession is having on their wine sales.

The majority of the estates that replied stated that their wine sales have increased relative to the same period a year ago.

Dieter Sellmeyer of Lynx Wines writes as follows: Non-cellar door wine sales locally come mainly from restaurants and from mail campaigns and neither of these have suffered – in fact restaurant business is up, which may partly have to do with the evolution of the brand. We have never done a lot through retail outlets as the competition there is massive and yes, cut-throat.”

Haute Espoir, Rickety Bridge Winery, La Motte, Stony Brook Vineyards, Graham Beck Wines and Vrede & Lust also all report increased wine sales, and it would not appear that the visitors to the Franschhoek wine estates are trading down in their wine purchases, as was claimed in a recent article in the Cape Times.Dana Buys from Vrede & Lust describes how he has enhanced wine sales at his estate: Our sales are significantly up over last year. I think it is due to our wines improving and a strong focus on direct wine sales. Direct sales are important with more customers buying to drink at home versus while eating out. Our wines are priced well relative to the quality. We have significantly upgraded our cellar door team and they have done a great job building the new wine club and getting our European eStore sales humming”

Graham Beck Wines’ Etienne Heyns attributes their sales success to his cellar door staff: “Our staff makes a point of providing our visitors with extra hospitality and superb attention during such times when relatively fewer visits occur. In addition, we reward our visitors with an array of extra special offers on our wines. We value their custom and want them to leave our estate with an indelible impression – and a boot full of superb wines.” Werner Els of La Petite Ferme attributes their sales’ success to focusing on greater distribution in South Africa’s major cities.Vrede & Lust says that there are fewer tourists around this season. “To counteract the tough economy we work on ensuring that our pricing is correct for the climate and we understand that better cash-flow is often more important than higher profit margins – i.e. we are realistic about the laws of supply and demand! Most of all, we work hard to ensure that the customers who visit the farm have a fantastic experience here” says Dana Buys. Rickety Bridge Winery says that it offers a good quality product. “We put a lot of emphasis on giving guests an experience though good service and a good quality “product” in both our restaurant and with our wines. I believe we offer something for everybody – whether they are serious connoisseurs or just looking for a relaxing day in the winelands” says Jackie Rabe.When visitors come to the farm we sell them an experience – wine sales follow automatically and price hardly comes into it. Being small only I, as passionate owner/winemaker, or my equally passionate Assistant Winemaker, do the cellar tours and wine tasting” says Sellmeyer. “We have a few very loyal small tour operators. Their clientele is usually upmarket and interested in wine and more often than not they have wine sent back home. The tour operators know we offer cellar tours and tastings in German, and for that sector this is an immediate winner”.Haute Espoir exports its wines to Germany, New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, Malaysia, Belgium and Singapore; Lynx sells to Denmark, Holland, Germany and the USA, but the USA sales “have almost vanished. Europe, on the other hand, has soaked up what the US didn’t take. Our Danish distributor reports the best season ever, and our wines are right up there – the result of joint marketing efforts with our distributor. Holland and Germany are not very different. In addition we have very recently received two significant orders from UK and Switzerland for the first time. With a bit of nurturing these will develop into repeat business.”

Rickety Bridge exports to the UK and the USA; Vrede & Lust exports to Canada and Europe; Stony Brook focuses its exports on Europe; La Petite Ferme exports to the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Ireland and America; Graham Beck sells its products in 40 countries, but Sweden and the USA are its two most important foreign markets; and La Motte exports to Europe, Africa and the Far East.

The visitor profile of visitors to the wine estates appears to be varied. Graham Beck Wines estimates that more of their visitors are foreigners than South Africans, in line with 65 % of its wine production being exported. La Petite Ferme receives mainly European visitors, Vrede & Lust is visited by locals, British visitors and Americans; Rickety Bridge Winery says 40 % of its visitors are South African, and the balance are from the UK, USA and France; Lynx sells to visitors from the UK, Germany, USA, Sweden and Holland, as well as South Africans from Gauteng. Some wineries appeal more to older wine lovers, others to younger visitors. “Swallows” are an important part of the winetasting mix at La Motte, says Werner Briederhann, probably due to their exposure to the wines at the monthly La Motte concerts.

When asked how the Vignerons can assist in attracting tourists to Franschhoek, Haute Espoir’s Rob Armstrong said :’“Strive to enhance the experience visitors to our valley have in every aspect, to make this the most attractive destination in South Africa.” Jacky of Rickety Bridge Winery suggested that: “I think it is important to create as much a positive feeling about what you do, get the name out there, get people talking about what you have to offer, make sure your staff are positive and send that message through to customers. Don’t ride on your laurels and expect business to come to you, do as much as you can to drive business to you. Evaluate what you offer and see whether you are really offering guests the best you can, in terms of price, quality and service. If not, how can you expect people to come back. I think in these tough times consumers become sharper, will shop around for good value and will not support places that are taking advantage. I also think that business will have to work harder and smarter to achieve the same business they did in more liquid times.”

Buys says that ‘great customer experience and value’ are key. “We compete with many other destinations in South Africa and elsewhere, and the overall value proposition must be very competitive.”

“We just try to do great value for money wines and give friendly, personal attention to visitors who come to the farm.  We believe in word of mouth advertising and our customers have been very loyal, even when times are tough” says Stony Brook Vineyards. For Els of La Petite Ferme it’s a change of focus to the South African market, while Graham Beck Wines’ Heyns says its “service, service, service!”

Sellmeyer is ‘proudly-Franschhoek’, and makes an important point in this regard: The best way is to send out the message of what a great place Franschhoek is, and all that it has to offer. To do this the most important thing is to remain upbeat, particularly in communications to the media and in newsletters. Visitors don’t like to go to a place that is depressed and down. But the Vignerons won’t be able to attract visitors on their own – they’re only one element of the Franschhoek experience. It’s a joint effort between all players, and just like I only recommend restaurants in the Valley, I would expect the converse to be the case. When I hear about guesthouses only recommending wineries on the other side of the mountain I ask myself ‘why?’- it’s like shooting yourself in the foot. It’s great if tourists go back and tell friends how much the Cape Winelands have to offer, but it would be better still if they told their friends how much Franschhoek has to offer.”

This article was written by Chris von Ulmenstein and was first published in the July 2009 issue of The Franschhoek Month.

Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com