Tag Archives: wine estates

SAA wine selection scandal, perfect SA bribery and corruption soapie!

South-African-Airways-3-720x330-702x330 pouring wineCity Press reported over the weekend that SAA sommelier and Global Food and Beverage Manager, Bongi Sodladla, was feted with bribes and incentives to offer wine purchase contracts to those wineries which greased her palms.  Had Bribery Bongi not been going through  a divorce, and had her still-current husband Wonga Sodladla not been so generous with information sent to SAA last month about his wife’s misdemeanours, SAA, the wine industry, and the South African public would never have known what was going on behind the scenes of SAA’s wine buying!

We first heard of Bribery Bongi in October last year, when she appeared in an episode of Season 3 of MasterChef Continue reading →

Platter’s Publisher JP Rossouw introduces changes to top wine guide: will wine lovers and wine estates be happy?

Platter's South African Wine Guide 2014 'Aquamarine' EditionSlowly a number of changes are being introduced to the publishing and marketing of ‘Platter’s South African Wines’ since JP Rossouw took over as Publisher of the wine guide about six months ago.  Not all the changes may be to the liking of the wine estates, users, and advertisers of the Guide.

For the first time Platter’s has advertised!  Yesterday I saw an advertisement for Platter’s in the Sunday Times Food Weekly supplement, advertising the Guide, with its newish parent Diners Club benefiting from it too.   The advertisementPlatter ad Whale Cottage bears the headline ‘Platter’s Wine Guide discovers the perfect pairing’, being a self-aggrandizing accolade to the marriage between Platter’s and Diners Club!  The copy reads: ‘Platter’s Wine Guide, South Africa’s original and most authoritative guide to who’s who and what’s what in the Winelands, has the perfect partner in Diners Club, the world’s original and most prestigious charge card. Platter’s has always been  the go-to-guide to discovering, rating, pairing and sharing South African wines. Now there’s a quick and easy way to also enjoy Platter’s on your mobile device or desktop. Filled with the latest wine news, festival alerts, hot picks and competitions, Platter’s has become an even more valuable guide.  Whether you are shopping for wine, wanting to learn more, or need help planning a trip to cellars, Platter’s will enhance your journey. No App required.  Simply go to www.wineonaplatter.com to subscribe’.  The pay-off line is corny and meaningless: ‘When your thirst for knowledge coincides with the means to enjoy it, you BELONG‘!  One would hope that Rossouw was not the copywriter of this nonsensical ad, given his past copywriting career!  More likely is that the advertisement comes from the Marketing department of Diners Club, the give-away being that it contains the Facebook page address and Twitter handle of Diners Club, but not of Platter’s, a bizarre omission! Continue reading →

Franschhoek to benefit from Leeu Indian hospitality investments!

Analjit Singh 2Indian businessman Analjit Singh has made a substantial investment in Franschhoek, buying three wine farms and a guest house. Last year Mr Singh bought a share in Mullineux Wines, now called Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines.

In Franschhoek Mr Singh has bought the wine estates Von Ortloff, Dieu Donné, and the neighbouring Dassenberg, which will be consolidated into Leeu Dassenberg Estates.  Fynbos is to be planted and alien vegetation to be removed.  This will become the foundation for  a new luxury boutique hotel, a spa, a winery, and a wine tasting facility, which will be run under the guidance of General Manager Matthew Smith.

Mr Singh has also bought the Rusthof guest house on the top of main road inRusthof Franschhoek, which will change its name to Leeu Rusthof Country Inn when it re-opens in summer, after refurbishments commence in July.

Mr Singh’s hospitality and property interests and new developments will be looked after for him by Hector de Galard.  Mr Singh founded The Max India Group, which has interests in life insurance, health insurance, and health care.  His local business investments have been made in his personal capacity, and he is using the ‘Leeu’ name, given that his surname means ‘lion’ in Sanskrit.  He first came to our country during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and investigated investments at that time already.  This led to his Continue reading →

Winemakers and media need to get closer, to market wines better!

PRNET HPF Swart SkaapThe Public Relations networking association PRNet recently hosted an inaugural ‘PRNET Trade meet your media’ event at Mandela Rhodes Place Hotel & Spa, focusing on the Wine Trade.  Cape Wine Master Clive Torr encouraged wine estates and writers to get to know each other better, so that the former can provide writers with information about what is unique about their wine estate and its wines.

Torr was introduced as a garagiste winemaker, and has spent time in the Napa valley.  He said currently ‘Chenin is flying‘, being so popular.  He noted that consumers are shying away from ‘austere wines’, looking for ‘lesser acidity‘ and ‘quicker drinkability‘.  He said that grapes are often picked too quickly, and warned that one should wait for ‘physiological ripeness‘, judged by the colour of the pip, and other factors.  He suggested that many of our local winemakers are German-orientated in their winemaking, having studied PRNet Wine Clive Torr Whale Cottage Portfolioat Geisenheim, making them precise, clinical, adding what one is allowed, and controlling fermentation. One could sense that he supports the French style of winemaking, which is to add nothing at all, and to keep the wine making process as natural as possible. ‘It is time for transparency‘, he said, and intimated that this will increasingly be the future trend.  He was critical of Merlot production, saying that our winemakers are ‘floundering‘ in making it.  Riesling is not his favourite either, saying that it has ‘high acidity and little taste‘.  He talked about adding antibiotics, which is done locally, but is not allowed in the European Union.  He said that many wine drinkers are allergic to sulphur, feeling its effect the following day.

Should the threatened ban on advertising materialise, editorial coverage will be one of few means whereby coverage can be achieved.   He emphasised how important it is to stay in contact with the media, as it is free advertising if they write about one’s Continue reading →

Wine Tourism South Africa 2014: Sip, Stay, and Play!

Wine Tourism South Africa HandbookMonika Elias of World Focus Media has done a great job over the past ten years in documenting the contribution of the wine routes, and the wine estates on them, to Wine Tourism South Africa, in helping to inform and educate locals as well as tourists about wine in general, and to boost wine sales.  Her 2014 edition of ‘Wine Tourism South Africa’ handbook has just been published , bearing the slogan of ‘sip, stay and play‘!

In her ‘Publisher’s Letter‘, Monika defines Wine Tourism as ‘…in the glass, on the plate, in the bed, around the vines, and for the planet’.  She writes about ‘winery atmospherics’, such as architecture, lighting, sound, temperature, and kinetics, playing an important role in creating a point of difference for wine estates in an increasingly competitive world.  Wine is becoming an increasingly important part of the Tourism experience, and most visitors to Cape Town and the Western Cape will be very likely to visit a wine farm to taste their wines, to eat at a Winelands restaurant, or visit an event linked to wines.

The Handbook evaluates top restaurants on wine estates, using chefs hats (three maximum) to denote how good or not they are;  and evaluates the winelists of the restaurants on the wine estates, by means of wine glasses (three maximum).  A price range indication is also provided for the Winelands restaurants.  The Handbook starts with tourist information and advice about car rental, taxis, trains, parking attendants, banking hours, VAT, the weather, tipping, and more.  It lists the winners of the fifteen categories in the 2013 KLINK Wine Tourism Awards, which received votes from 15000 consumers last year. Continue reading →

Celebrate the Franschhoek Bastille weekend with Berets and Boules!

Bastille Festival Whale Cottage PortfolioFranschhoek’s biggest event takes place next weekend, the Bastille Festival being celebrated on 13 and 14 July, showcasing the food and wine highlights of the valley, and promises to be great fun.  This year the 20th anniversary of the Franschhoek Bastille Festival will be celebrated.

The town will be decked out in red, white and blue, and a large marquee in the centre of town, just off the main road, between the church and the town hall, will be the focus of the Festival.  Wines of the following Franschhoek wine estates will be available to taste:  Akkerdal, Alleé Bleue, Anthonij Rupert Wines, Backsberg, Boschendal,  Babylonstoren,  Boekenhoutskloof, Dieu Donnè, Glenwood,  Grande Provence,  Haute Cabrière, Holden Manz, La Bri, La Chataigne, La Motte, La Petite Ferme, Leopard’s Leap, Maison Estate, Morena – Franschhoek Pass Winery, Môreson, Noble Hill, Plaisir de Merle, Rickety Bridge, Rupert & Rothchild Vignerons, Solms Delta, and Vrede en Lust. Continue reading →

City of Cape Town wins court bid to halt Winelands N1/N2 toll roads, for now!

Brett Herron, the City of Cape Town Councillor and Mayoral Committee member for Transport, Roads, and Stormwater, is a busy man, fighting the Golden Arrow Bus Services on the one hand, and the South African National Road Agency Limited’s (SANRAL) proposed N1/N2 Winelands Toll Highway Project on the other.

Yesterday we heard in a news broadcast that Golden Arrow is taking its appeal of a recent court decision to allow the roll out of further MyCiTi Bus routes in Cape Town to the Supreme Court.  This will mean a further delay of the eagerly awaited and heavily delayed launch of the Atlantic Seaboard route from Hout Bay through Camps Bay, Sea Point, Tamboerskloof, to the city centre and the V&A Waterfront.  Last month the City’s bus service did not run for three weeks due to the SA National Transport and Allied Workers Union calling a strike over wages, and caused traffic chaos when the Justin Bieber and Bon Jovi concerts were held in the Cape Town Stadium!

Today the Councillor has issued a media statement, triumphantly announcing that the City’s urgent interdict to stop SANRAL from going ahead in developing its proposed Winelands N1 and N2 toll roads has been successful, due to then national Transport Minister Jeff Radebe not having been fully informed about the costs of the toll road development.  The N1 toll road is planned from the R300 turnoff to Sandhills near Worcester, and the N2 toll road from the R300 turnoff to Bot River.  We have written previously that wine farmers and estate owners, and agricultural producers, were up in arms when the toll road announcement was first made public 18 months ago, driving up food costs and being bad for tourism!

The City’s interdict application was assisted with some toy-toying outside the Western Cape High Court by his fellow Tourism, Events and Marketing Mayoral Committee member Grant Pascoe, and a rent-a-crowd. Pascoe is better at marketing the DA than he is at marketing Cape Town via his newish Tourism, Events and Marketing Directorate, having announced the interdict victory on his Facebook page, and linking the victory to the DA!

Councillor Herron’s media statement is as follows:

“STATEMENT BY THE CITY’S MAYORAL COMMITTEE MEMBER FOR TRANSPORT, ROADS AND STORMWATER, COUNCILLOR BRETT HERRON: City wins again in fight to halt proposed N1/N2 Winelands Toll Highway Project.

The City of Cape Town scored two victories in its attempt to halt the proposed N1/N2 Winelands Toll Highway Project in the Western Cape High Court this morning.  The court has granted the City’s application for an interdict against the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL), seeking to halt the Agency from taking any steps to implement the proposed project, pending the final determination of the City’s review application. The City was also successful in its application that SANRAL be compelled to provide a number of documents which formed part of SANRAL’s decision making process; and which SANRAL have been refusing to provide.  The City’s people and its economy simply cannot be burdened by unnecessary toll roads.  SANRAL’s decision is one that affects us all, but that will have a particularly profound effect on the poorest and most vulnerable groups that call Cape Town home”.

The toll road project would place a R10 billion financial burden to provide services to SANRAL, which the City of Cape Town’s ratepayers would have to bear.  The bulk of the Western Cape wine estates and its visitors would be affected by the implementation of toll roads outside Cape Town.

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

SA wine tourism ‘revolution’ praised by leading wine writer Robert Joseph!

South Africa’s wine industry was praised for ‘amongst the most exciting wine countries in the world’ last week by top UK wine writer Robert Joseph, who also praised it for ‘the complete revolution in wine and wine tourism’ in the past 25 years, says the media release of Great Wine Capitals Global Network. The organisation hosted an awards lunch at La Motte, to celebrate the South African winners in the annual Great Wine Capitals Wine Tourism Awards, with Joseph as the guest speaker.

Despite praising the progress made in the R5 billion South African wine tourism industry, with about 300 local wine estates according to Business Report, Joseph said that wine tourism should be developed more aggressively around the world.  ‘There is a common misconception that wine tourism is about tasting and buying wine. It is not. It is about entertainment and building profitable relationships. Wine tourism needs to attract more visitors, get them to spend money, get them to become regular visitors and encourage them to become ambassadors. It is also about learning from your visitors and addressing their needs‘, he told the wine industry representatives.  He shared that 9% of the American wine purchases for home drinking is bought at the cellar door.

Joseph urged wine estates to not offer free cellar-door tastings. ‘If you charge, you have to think about what you are giving them and you have to give them fair value. Charging means your visitor knows where he or she stands. Paying implies a clear-cut and transactional relationship.  When you don’t charge, the parameters are not clear and often the interaction between producer and visitor can feel more like a bad blind date. It’s far better to subsequently give a complimentary offering and to be thanked than to be expected to give something for nothing at the outset’, he said.

Addressing customer feedback, Joseph urged wine estates to pay close attention to what visitors were saying about them, by monitoring tourism feedback sites and responding to both praise and criticism, to develop relationships with their wine customers.  He urged wine estates to pay attention to the search engine optimisation of their websites, to ensure that they are mobile-friendly, and that the labels and tasting rooms have QR codes to allow customers to seek further information about the wines.

He also urged a focus on designated drivers, given the stricter drink-drive legislation in most countries.  More should be done to make designated drivers feel welcome, he encouraged.  ‘The same goes for any non-wine drinkers who are part of a group, and also children. They also need to be entertained.  Offer more than just wine.  Offer activities that will also appeal to those not drinking wine. If you don’t provide food, allow people to use your facilities so they can barbeque or picnic at your venue. Let them bring their pets.

He recommended that wine buying by international tourists should be made simpler and cheaper. ‘Instead of shipping from your winery, arrange for distributors in the home countries of your visitors to deliver to them directly. This model is being used by some producers in Europe and is working successfully’.

At the Great Wine Capitals Global Network event, La Motte was announced the 2013 South African Best of Wine Tourism Awards winner, the second year running, and was a Global winner in the Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices category this year.  Although announced six months ago already, the awards per category were presented to the winners at the event last week:

*   Creation: Innovative Wine Tourism Experience

*   Grand Dedale Country House at Doolhof:  Accommodation

*   Grand Provence: Art and Culture

*   Tokara:  Wine Tourism Restaurant

*   Waterkloof:  Wine Tourism Services, and Architecture and Landscapes.

Cape Town/Winelands, Mainz-Rheinhessen in Germany, Bilbao-Rioja in Spain, Bordeaux in France, Florence in Italy, Mendoza in Argentina, Porto in Portugal, San Francisco/Napa Valley in the USA, Christchurch in New Zealand and Valparaiso/Casablanca in Chile are members of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network.

Joseph is editor at large of ‘Meininger’s Wine Business International ‘ and author of the ‘Wine Travel Guide to the World’. He is also the founder of the UK-based International Wine Challenge and of multiple Wine Challenges throughout Asia and eastern Europe. Joseph’s thejosephreport.com is one of the most respected and controversial international wine industry blogs.

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

New Liquor By-law: City of Cape Town allows new comments re Sunday liquor trading!

What sounded like an April Fool’s joke was in fact reality, when stringent new operating hours of establishments selling alcoholic beverages were announced, as well as a number of very odd regulations regarding the purchase and storage of such beverages, were regulated via the Liquor Trading Days and Hours By-law.  Receiving numerous complaints as well as threatened legal action from retailers who have been refused alcoholic beverage sales on Sundays, has led the City of Cape Town to call for a further round of comments from the public, as well as from affected retailers.

The City of Cape Town is allowing a 45 day period, ending on 20 May, for comments to a draft of the new By-law, which is only 22 days old.  Following immediate feedback, the City is planning to allow alcoholic beverage retailers in city areas to trade on Sundays, and to trade later than the newly instituted 18h00 time limit on Mondays – Saturdays.  The new By-Law had been through a public participation process, but Sunday retail trading did not appear to elicit any reaction at that time.  Only wine estates are allowed to sell wine on Sundays in the new By-Law.

The City has graciously allowed those retailers holding a liquor licence in built-up city areas to continue trading on Sundays while the comments are being received and evaluated.  Trading hours as per the new By-Law must however be followed.  Gareth Bloor, Councillor for Economic, Environmental, and Spatial Planning, said the City of Cape Town has to balance the needs of the hospitality industry with the health and social effects of alcohol abuse in residential areas in particular, according to its media statement.

The City has lost credibility in capitulating so quickly on its new Liquor Trading Days and Hours By-law, and one wonders why it did not think this part of the By-Law through before its implementation. Threatened court cases may have led to the rapid halt in the implementation of the By-Law clause pertaining to the retail sales of alcohol on Sundays in city areas.

Liquor Trading Days and Hours By-Law, City of Cape Town. www.capetown.gov.za/bylaws

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

Taste of Cape Town dishes up a feast of Cape restaurants and chefs!

The sixth Taste of Cape Town, to be held at the Green Point Cricket Club from today until Sunday, promises to be a feast of food and beverages, prepared by some of the Cape’s leading chefs, and offered for tasting by top wine estates and beverage houses.

A pop-up restaurant will feature some of our region’s best chefs, hosted by a different chef each day:

*   Chef Luke Dale-Roberts, representing The Pot Luck Club, offering Miso-glazed short rib with kimchi, pork belly with XO and red cabbage slaw, and Thai-style prawns with Tom Yum butter on Friday.

*   Chef Bruce Robertson, past owner of award-winning The Showroom, and now running The Boathouse from his home in Scarborough, will dish up snot vis (photograph) and sea cucumber, ‘Viss ‘n Tjips’, and Lucky Star pie on Saturday.

*   Chef Scot Kirton of La Colombe will offer Lemon verbena cured trout, ostrich tataki, and rose and coconut pannacotta on Thursday.

*   Chef Tanja Kruger of Makaron Restaurant, and member of the SA Culinary team, will serve Nigiri sustainable fish, smoked lamb belly, and a rum, caramel and banana dessert on Sunday.

Eleven restaurant stands will offer food to taste, in exchange for crowns (R5 per crown, and dish prices range from 4 – 8 crowns each, as a means of payment:

*   Azure Restaurant at the Twelve Apostles hotel, with Chef Henrico Grobbelaar at the helm, serving duck liver cream, Chalmar beef fillet, and Bea Tollman’s rice pudding

*   96 Winery Road in Stellenbosch, led by Chef Natasha Wray, serving crispy pork belly strips, line fish Nobu style, and parmesan and chorizo risotto

*   De Grendel Restaurant, which opened a year ago, with Chef Ian Bergh, serving duck and risotto, braised beef, and quail.

*   Fyndraai Restaurant at Solms-Delta, with Chef Shaun Schoeman, offering Tiger prwan and calamari breyani, Karoo ‘lamsoutribbetjie‘, and venison wild rosemary pie

*   Signal Restaurant at the Cape Grace, with Chef Malika van Reenen, serving prawn salad, beef short rib, and pear dessert

*   Savour at 15 on Orange, headed by Chef Sanel Esterhuyse, offering Norwegian salmon and avocado tartare (photograph), quail curry, and seared scallops

*   Jewel of India, now located in Bo-Kaap, with Chef Dayanand Shankar Poojary, serving Chicken Tikka, Paneer Makhani, and Madras fish curry

*   Beefcakes Burger Bar, based in Green Point, with Chef Wonderful Ndhlovu offering poppers, gourmet ostrich burge, and chocolate brownie.

*   Dash Restaurant at the Queen Victoria Hotel in the V&A Waterfront, with Chef Craig Paterson, serving fish rillettes, braised lamb breast, and ‘Go Bananas’ dessert

*   The Brasserie (sister restaurant to Societi Bistro) with Chef Stefan Marais, offering West Coast mussels, Brasserie Scotch egg, and French onion soup

*   Il Leone Mastrantonio with Chef Daniel Toledo, serving Linguine ai Gamberetti (prawns), flash-fried calamari, and coffee-flavoured panacotta.

Top chefs will do demonstrations in the Pick ‘n Pay Chef’s Theatre, while the Pick ‘n Pay Wine and Canapé Experience will teach Festival goers how to pair wines and canapés. Lindt’s Master Chocolatiers will demonstrate making Lindor truffles and pralines and chocolate sculpturing, with their Excellence and Creation ranges available for sale.   A special focus on Thai foods will be offered via cooking demonstrations by Thai chefs, organised by the Royal Thai Embassy.  A Food Market will not only offer artisanal foods for sale, but also beverages such as the new award-winning Bains Cape Mountain whisky from Wellington, the best single grain whisky in the world, as well as Fairtrade wines.

The Taste of Cape Town is one of 18 Taste festivals hosted around the world.  Taste of Durban will be held in July and Taste of Joburg in September.  Taste of Cape Town is environmentally friendly, with Interwaste recycling at the festival, and biodegradable eating utensils and bowls made by Green Home Products will be used.

POSTSCRIPT 12/4: Parking is in short supply, and traffic cops are all around the venue, to frighten anyone off parking anywhere else except inside the Cape Town Stadium, at a reasonable charge of R20.  The evening was wonderful, mild weather wise, lots of attendees but it never felt crowded.  The pop-up restaurant (Pot Luck Club this evening, but without Luke Dale-Roberts, as advertised on the program) had the longest queue, so one should go there first.  Tweeting is difficult, almost impossible from the festival, given the network overload.  Signal Restaurant of the Cape Grace hotel was the ‘best dressed’ restaurant, in giving one a feel of its real counterpart.  It is difficult to present one’s dishes under such trying conditions, and there can be little talk of ‘plating’ on a small recycled plate, but the best looking dish was Savour’s Norwegian salmon and avocado tartare with parmesan galette, Ikura caviar, soy-lime broth (this detracted from the dish) and micro-herbs (right).  The best tasting dish was the Twelve Apostles’ Azure starter of Duck liver cream, pickled red apple, and lentil leek mignonette (left).  I enjoyed sitting at the tables spread around the grounds, just chatting about the dishes and the restaurants they came from.  There are a lot of Capetonians interested in our Cape Town restaurants.  I heard a lot of Afrikaans spoken, and the PR representative Errieda du Toit told me that Afrikaans media had covered the festival for the first time. Lindt impressed with its shop and demonstration area, the making of pralines and Lindor being demonstrated. One should go here at the beginning or end, as it became very full.

Taste of Cape Town, 11 and 12 April 18h30 – 22h30, 13 April 13h00 – 17h00 and 18h30 – 22h30, 14 April 12h00 – 17h00,  www.tasteofcapetown.com Twitter: @Taste  Taste Fest app available for free for Apple, Blackberry, and Android devices.  R80 entrance and tasting glass, R180 includes R100 tasting crowns.

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