South African Travel Corporation
Newsletter September 2004
Editor Erika Fredholm
South Africa and its wine...
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
The sun shines through
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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
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.
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
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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.
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
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
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 (blonde) at Cederberg
Cellars with the media group
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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.
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)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information and 2005 dates, visit www.satravelco.com
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
-- 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
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
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
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!
A loving gesture
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
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
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.
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
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Tel: +27 (0)21 555 3732
Fax: +27 (0)21 555 3733