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South African Travel Corporation
Newsletter September 2004
Editor Erika Fredholm

Dear ${firstname},

South Africa and its wine...

...go back some 350 years. When the Dutch East India Company decided they needed an outpost for fresh produce somewhere between Holland and the Spice Islands, the southern parts of Africa were a good halfway point. Seven years after Jan van Riebeeck and his party arrived at the Cape, the first wine was produced. It is written it was rather bad, but still wine. However winemaking improved with the Huguenots from France bringing their vines and wine making tradition with them. Ex Emperor Napoleon, spending his last days at St Helena, drank only South African wine produced at Groot Constantia, the first wine farm, still going strong.

The sun shines through
The sun shines through
Taken by 'the good news guys'
The traditional wine growing areas are within half an hour's drive from Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. However, wine is nowadays grown in a wide half circle around Cape Town, spreading some 350 km in each direction. New wine farms are being established as you read this. Traditional wheat and dairy farming areas are being converted into winelands.

So, what happens in the wine industry today?
Valley of vines
Valley of vines
In 1973, with the introduction of the Wine of Origin System, South Africa's winelands were divided into a series of official regions, districts, wards and estates (in decreasing order of size, depending on the subdivision structure). South Africa's vineyards are mostly situated in the Western Cape near the coast, but wine is also produced in the drier northern and eastern regions, namely Little Karoo, the Olifants River Valley and the lower Orange River. There are considerable differences in climate between these regions, which determine the viticultural practices and wine styles of each region.

Some progressive and forward thinking winemakers are now converting either part of, or their entire grape crop to organic farming methods. Though less than five percent of South African wine farmers are considering moving over to organic farming, it is interesting to see it is no longer considered a quirky hippie thing, where only people on the fringes of the industry are switching over to this way of making wine. The majority of wineries converting vineyards are dynamic mainstream players, driven by market demand.

BIG NEWS! The South African Travel Corporation introduces the first wine tour focusing on organic production.

Snippets from the press release:

Winetasting on the rocky beach at Fryers Cove
Winetasting on the rocky beach at Fryers Cove
Taken by 'the good news guys'
Wild Wine - an adventure for serious wine enthusiasts looking for a unique and exclusive WOW Wine Experience™ - a non traditional wine tour with a new twist.

Wild Wine is a discovery of wonderfully exciting farms and wine makers producing fabulous international award winning wines off the beaten wine track.

Wild wine is environmentally driven - it's organic, it's wild yeast, it's sulphur free.

Winemaking team at Stellar Organics
Winemaking team at Stellar Organics
Wild Wine makers are holistically creative and ingenious and make magic in their cellars. Wild Wine farmers respect the environment, they are involved in conservancy programmes, they work with the community, they are passionate about social upliftment, Black Economic Empowerment and Transformation.

Wild Wine will take you from a tented camp (luxury of course!) in a conservancy just outside the Cape Town city limits and up the rugged West Coast where you will stay at guesthouses and farm cottages, country hotels or one of the top eco loges in the world, depending on the Wild Wine experience you choose.

Sue Towse of SATravel at Cederberg Cellars with the media group
Sue Towse of SATravel (blonde) at Cederberg
Cellars with the media group
Taken by 'the good news guys'
Meet the Wild Wine farmers and wine makers, eat with them, sleep with them and of course drink with them. Get to talk to them and discuss the merits of their wines, the rich history of their farms and many other topics. Come at harvest time and join the night harvest teams picking the lush sun ripened grapes. Or tread your own grapes in March... each Wild Wine experience will be unique.

Wild Wine 7 day 2004 Odyssey departs Cape Town on November 7 and 21, and December 5.

The maximum group size is 15 people - this is not a big bus scenario at all - and if you personally organize enough people to make up one tour (14), you get to tag along with all your land arrangements for free. (Conditions apply)

All land based transport, accommodation, food and of course, wine is included. International flights and additional activities, such as regional tours, sightseeing day trips or safaris can be arranged at additional cost for those who wish to extend their stay.

Book now to ensure your place on the next Wild Wine odyssey. Contact The South African Travel Corporation at For more information and 2005 dates, visit

Full-bodied with lots of flavour, this trip adds a new dimension to wine appreciation. It takes you to meet the winemakers themselves, lets you taste their wine in breathtaking surrounds, and at the same time allows you to experience the local charm of little-known destinations. A robust mix bound to go to your head. Thank you so much for a fantastic experience!

-- Jeanine Gomes, writer, Johncom-Commercial Magazines

Eben Human of Die Burger, another journalist on the media trip:

JUST keep in mind that Sue Towse was once a marathon runner if you consider joining her on one of her Wild Wine tours. I am still gasping for air after our run of four days of wine tasting.

After twelve cellars I lost count. It is however not the quantity, but the surprisingly good quality we found on our way, that will be remembered.

The political change we have seen the past ten years opened many doors for our wine exporters. For me it was therefore exciting to experience firsthand the products of new, often very young, winemakers that are now coming to the fore with wines we will hear more and more of in future.

We started our tour with the great red wines of the Durbanville region, before we visited the Ormond wine estate at Darling. Here we stood on the highest hill with winemaker Theo Basson, feeling the cool sea breeze as we gazed at the coast line from Saldanah to Cape Town, sipping a superb Sauvignon Blanc.

But for the worlds closest vineyard to the sea, you must travel far up the West Coast to Strandfontein. Fryers Cove's Sauvignon Blanc is harvested and transported at night to Lanzerac at Stellenbosch before you get the product we tasted barefoot on the beach. Divine. You could smell the snoek and kreef.

At Vredendal we visited young winemakers Johan Teubes (Teubes wines) and Philip Viljoen (Oubenheim wines), both representing a new generation that only strives for quality. Oubenheim's Merlot of 2002 won a gold medal this year at the Michelangelo International Wine Awards.

Highlights that followed included the organic wines of Stellar Organics and a visit to Citrusdal and Riebeek Kasteel for the tasting of some of their best wines.

Then I have not mentioned my best discovery on this trip, the superb wines David Nieuwoudt makes these days under the Cederberg label. To sit with this winemaker at sunset in the beautiful surrounding of the Cederberg and tasting some really great wines, was very special.

It was here everyone burst out laughing when I just said: Wow! (maybe it sounded more like a lion's roar). Well, there are some moments in life when good company, good surroundings and good wine makes it just very natural to roar: Wow!

Hot Stuff!

Penguins in Simonstown
A loving gesture
Carpets of snow white daisies
Nicolas, our golf pro, on a carpet of snow white daisies.
5-day Penguin Festival! Simonstown, South Africa's Naval Base, will turn into a Penguin Town. The festival features a charity ball, golf events, craft market and plenty to do on the water. All proceeds go to Sanccob who look after our seabirds, injured and sick or smeared in oil. There are 170,000 penguins in South Africa at present and they are decreasing by 2% a year!

It is springtime. The rains have been good and the flowers in the Cape are just about breath taking. The abundance, the colours. If you haven't seen it, come next year end of August -September.

Cigar bars have become pop. Ratings by Hugo Ripley: Cape to Cuba in Kalk Bay - eccentric Cuban restaurant with sea views. Raleighs, Arabella Sheraton - Cape Town's classiest cigar lounge. Buena Vista Social Club, Main Rd, Green Point - buzzing local club, dedicated to Cuban ideals.

Cigars go best with the age-old tradition founded in Oporto, Portugal in the 15th century of adding distilled grape spirits to wine and making a thicker, richer, sweeter and stronger wine known as Port. Ratings by Hugo: Allesverloren, near Riebeek Kasteel - the jewel of South Africa's port selection. Boplaas, near Calitzdorp - award-laden offering from the Karoo.

Take care! Remember to smile at somebody today.
Erika Fredholm with Meerendals, Riaan van der Spuy
Erika Fredholm with Meerendals, Riaan van der Spuy
Taken by 'the good news guys'

Tel: +27 (0)21 555 3732
Fax: +27 (0)21 555 3733

SA Travel Corp. PO Box 511, Milnerton, Cape Town 7435, South Africa
All Content Copyright SA Travel Corp, 2004