Striated Skies No. 52 – Nothing to be scared of

52. Nothing to be scared of

The Banghoek (meaning “scary corner”) valley is located over the Hellshoogte pass and an area in which I will own an estate one day. The picture for this striated sky was taken on the Oldenburg wine estate (in the Banghoek Valley) looking up at the Drakenstein Mountain Range. Banghoek Valley, got its name due to the dense forest, leopards, steep ravines and other dangers encountered by settlers.

Hellshoogte is the oldest pass in South Africa. The original Pass was built in 1692, in order to make ones way to Franschoek (where the Huguenots settled after arriving in 1688).  It was the main road to Franschhoek and for many years was regarded as a dangerous route, especially in the dark. The origins of the name is likely from the steep gullies (“hells”) on the ridge. In 1854 the road was greatly improved and used until being replaced by the new/current road in 1972.

A left turn off the R310 onto Zevenrivieren road will put the Mountains in front of you, the road winds and becomes gravel. The road is well sign posted and finding Oldenburg estate is a cinch. On arrival you are greeted by the spectacular new Cellar Door. The building was designed by architect Simon Beerstecher, and the interior design is by Kelly Hoppen.

Oldenburg is owned and run by Adrian and Vanessa Vanderspuy. Adrian was born on the neighbouring farm but his family left South Africa in the 1960’s. He would return to visit Oldenburg yearly for Christmas. Dorothy Vanrenen, Adrians grandmother, lived at Oldenburg with Helmet Holmann. In fact it is Helmet who named the farm Oldenburg in memory of his German roots in the city of Oldenburg. Visit the Oldenburg Vineyards Website for more history.

It was in 2002 that Adrian decided to pursue the possibility of bringing Oldenburg Vineyards back to life given that the farm had fallen into a parlous state. The vineyards were replanted from 2004-2006 and the maiden vintages of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc were produced in 2007. In 2010 the first whites were produced, the reds were launched (all were included in the SA Top 100 wines)  and in 2011 the cellar door opened.   In 2014 Philip Costandius joined as General Manager and Winemaker, later that year The Homestead was opened.

Visit the Oldenburg Vineyards Website to find out more about this amazing place and the people who make it happen or go one step better and visit them in person, you will not regret it. The views are amazing, the wine terrific and the atmosphere spectacular.  As I said at the beginning, one day I will own a property in this valley.

oldenburg logoI have to end off this blog by saying Thanks to all the peole who have followed me and my 52 Striated Skies Project. My next big step is going to be figuring out how I can exhibit this in 2016. Here is to an awesome 2016!!!

Striated Skies No. 44 – Butter Heart

44.Butter Heart

Bot River is a small hamlet approximately 100km outside of Cape Town, on the N2, between Grabouw and Caledon. It is home to approximately 4000 people and 14 wineries on the Bot River Wine Route.

Khoi herders called the area home, with the “Couga River” providing pastures that were lush.  Settlers came to the area to Barter for “Botter” (Butter) from the Khoi in the area and this is where the name Bot River comes from.  The hamlet formed in the 18th century as an outpost for the Dutch East India Company and after the battle of Blouberg Daniel de Kock was given ownership of Compagnes Drift the farm which he had rented. In 1912 the first train ran through the hamlet although the hamlet did not grow from its small size.

The picture for this striated sky is taken on the pass towards Villiersdorp. The dirt road winds from the main road of Bot River past farmlands including vineyards, canola and wheat. We had taken a drive out to do some wine tasting and saw this beautiful scene about 1km down the road. After some photography, we stopped at Luddite (5 stars – definitely recommend a trip) and then continued to Goedvertrouw Wine Estate.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 11.53.50 AMThe story of Luddite is one of a couple that love wine and making it in a way that has little intervention. The winery situated a rocky outcrop, on which Niels and Penny planted vines in 2001, is home to ±6Ha of vines.

The story of Goedvertrouw Wine Estate is a story that is both heart warming and sad. The winemaker Elrieda Pillmann continues to live out the dream she shared with her husband to create wine even though she does not drink it.

Bot River is part of the Cape country meander and falls within the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. The town itself does not have much going for it but it is definitely worth a visit to have some wine and take in the beauty of the surrounding area.

Striated Skies No. 19 – Life is a Canvas

19. Life is a canvas

The picture inspiring this weeks Striated sky depicts the beautiful Hottentots-Hollands mountains from Delaire Graf Estate. The Estate is on the Helshoogte Road from Stellenbosch to Franschhoek. It is a stunning venue and the wine tasting that we did was spectacular… most definitely worth a visit. The picture which looks like a painting inspires the title which is Life is a Canvas. I have chosen this title as in life you are the artist and can choose the type of picture that you want to paint. Why not paint something beautiful just like the picture above!

Cape Town Holiday 2011 – Day 4

Day 4 Started with a little “lie in” and then we went off to the Constania Valley for a day of wine tasting. Constantia Valley is one of the Cape Town Big 6 places to visit. We left Pinelands and took the M3 but missed a turn off and almost ended up in Muizenburg. There are so many signs to Muizenburg but we never actually ended ever going to Muizenburg. We found our way onto the wine route via Steenburg Rd and the first farm we stopped at was Constania Uitsig, the wine shop and tasting venue was great. The staff were friendly and the lady behind the counter was full of quirkiness. We tasted thier range while she was having her first glass of wine for the day at 11am. We bought two bottles of wine and went on our way.

Tip for travellers to the Cape wine routes: Take a bottle of water and to drink while in the car as you don’t want to spit.

After Uitsig we raced along the route to get to Groot Constantia for the Cellar Tour and tasting. Groot Constantia is the oldest established wine estate in South Africa and was started by Simon van der Stel who was governor of the Cape.

The Name Constantia is thought to be named after Commissioner Rijckloff van Goens’s daughter in recognition of his help and support in obtaining the farm land.  Another theory is that the farm was named after the VOC ship “Constantia” which, was anchored in Table Bay.

Commissioner Rijckloff van Goens, a former governor of Ceylon and Council Member of India, visited the Cape while recuperating from an illness. He recommended to the Chamber of Seventeen, the governing body of the VOC, that land should be granted to Simon Van der Stel. After a visit by High Commissioner Hendrik Adriaan van Rheede tot Drakenstein, Van der Stel received title to 891 morgen (about 763 hectares) on 13th July 1685.  The land stretched southwards to the neighbouring free burgher farms of Steenberg and Zwaanswyk and to the north it reached as far as the wooded area named The Hell. The Wine from Constantia grew in status and in 1778 Hendrik Cloete (a twig on Laurens Family tree) bought the farm , the farm was in the Cloete family for over 100 years. Below are the important dates during the Cloete reign at Groot Constantia. A full list of important dates at Constantia can be found here and history here

1778 Jan Serrurier buys Groot Constantia and in the same year sells the farm to Hendrik Cloete.
1789 Outbreak of the French Revolution, which lasts until Napoleon seizes power in 1799.
1792 Henrik Cloete’s restoration of the farm is complete.
1795 The First British Occupation of the Cape.
1795 The German poet Friederich Gottlieb Klopstock composes Der Kapwein und der Johannesberger, Kapwein being Constantia wine.
1799 Hendrik Cloete (junior) becomes the new owner of Groot Constantia.
1803 The Cape comes under Batavian rule.
1806 The Second British Occupation of the Cape.
1811 Sense and Sensibility, a novel by Jane Austen in which Constantia wine is mentioned, is published.
1815 Napoleon is banished to St Helena after his defeat of Waterloo. On St Helena he was supplied with wine from Groot Constantia until his death in 1821.
1818 The wife of the late Hendrik Cloete, Anna Catharina Scheller, becomes the second woman to own the estate.
1824 Scheller sells the estate to her oldest son, Jacob Pieter Cloete.
1833 King Louis Philippe of France becomes the biggest buyer ever of Groot Constantia wine.
1834 Slavery is abolished, but slaves are apprenticed to their owners for a four-year period, i.e. Up to 1838.
1855 Sliver medals are awarded to Groot Constantia wine at the Paris Exhibition.
1857 Les Fleurs du mal is published, a volume of poems by the French poet Charles Baudelaire, in which Sed non satiata praises Constantia wine.
1859 The fungal disease oidium tuckeri, also known as mildew or powdery mildew, is discovered in the Cape vineyards. In December it is also found in the Groot Constantia vineyards.
1860 A 10-year free trade agreement is concluded between Britain and France, under which French wines benefit greatly, to the disadvantage of Cape wine exports, including that of Groot Constantia.
1866 The vine disease phylloxera, caused by an insect called peritymbia vitifolii, ravages the vineyards of the Cape, including those of Groot Constantia.
1867 Silver medals are awarded to Groot Constantia wine at the Paris Exhibition.
1872 Jacob Pieter Cloete is declared insolvent in the Cape Supreme Court.
1874 Two medals are awarded to Groot Constantia wine in Vienna.
1875 Jacob Pieter Cloete’s oldest son Henry, and his two sons, become responsible for the running of the farm.
1876 Two medals are awarded to Groot Constantia wine in Philadelphia.
1878 A gold medal is awarded to Groot Constantia wine in Paris.
1881 Six awards are won by Groot Constantia wine in Melbourne.
1885 Groot Constantia is bought at an auction for the Cape Government by the Master of the Cape Supreme Court.

The Tour and tasting were informative and nicely put together although I did not find the wine that great and we did not purchase any wine. Groot Contantia is one of the big 6’s but is very commercialized.

We then went to the Constantia Valley Mall for a quick bite to eat before going off to Steenburg Wine Estate to meet friends for tasting for Kayley’s birthday.

We arrived at the wrong entrance to the estate but the security guards were very helpful. We drove the way they told us and wondered why there was so much security around the estate with electric fencing and security camera’s every 100m. On the drive to the correct gate we realized why as we drove past pollsmoor prison.

Steenburg is a very modern estate with a beautiful tasting venue, the atmosphere was great although again the wine was not that great.

We left Steenburg with very little time left in the business day but wanted to do at least one more wine estate and so made our way to Klein Constantia which was the best estate of the day and we bought a Vin De Constance. This wine was the famous sweet wine of Constantia that became world renown during the times of the Cloete era , and in 1980 was brought back by Klein Constantia. Read more about it here. The estate is beautiful and the tasting venue very homey.
To get back to Pinelend we took the back roads through Wynburg and got stuck in major traffic, should have got back onto the M3. Was a great day although to be honest the wine of the Constantia Valley, which is mostly white, is not really my type of wine.

Wine of Origin System in South Africa

As in Europe certain areas and farms have become renowned for the wine that they produce, for  a long time this uniqueness was not protected. In 1972 legislation was formulated to introduce the Wine of Origin scheme. This scheme not only protests the origin but the specific cultivar and vintage.  The scheme complies with EU regulations as a large amount of wine is exported to Europe. This scheme was officially instituted in 1973, in accordance with the Wine, Other Fermented Beverages and Spirits Act of 1957.

Two factors  which play the most important  role in determining the character and quality of a wine are nature (soil, climate and location) and the human hand (cultivar choice, viticultural practices and winemaking techniques). Nature is considered to have a greaqter influence as in certain areas vines grow better and soil climate and location affect the taste of grapes produced and thus the wine. If a wine claims origin the law requires that 100% of grapes come from that specific area.

Demarcation of areas of origin

A production unit can be any size from a single vineyard to a geographical unit; these are all defined by law and published in the Government Gazette.An Estate wine has to be produced in adjoining vineyards farmed as single units and all processes up to bottling must occur at the estate, this wine may then be certified as an estate wine and thus labeled and marketed as such.

The largest demarcation is a geographical unit, there are currently 3 geographical units in South Africa, namely Western Cape, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

A region is the next demarcation, these are defined according to the surrounding area name, such as rivers, valleys etc.

Regions are further divided into Districts and the districts into wards

When a ward is defined, soil, climate and ecological factors play a very important role as they have a clear influence on the character of the wine. The proposed area name also has to be the real geographical place name and nature has to dictate that the specific area can actually produce wines with a distinctive character. 

Districts have to meet the same criteria as wards but with a broader definition of the relevant area using macro geographical characteristics such as mountains and rivers. Naturally, a greater variety of soil types are allowed than in the wards.

Table of Demarcated Wine Producing areas
Le Chasseur
WORCESTER Aan-de-Doorns
Hex River Valley
KLEIN KAROO No district Montagu
No district Tradouw
No district Tradouw Highlands
No district Upper Langkloof
No district Outeniqua
No district Constantia
No district Hout Bay
TYGERBERG Durbanville
PAARL Franschhoek Valley
Voor Paardeberg
STELLENBOSCH Jonkershoek Valley
Devon Valley
Polkadraai Hills
DARLING Groenekloof
SWARTLAND Riebeekberg
No district Spruitdrift
No district Vredendal
No district Bamboes Bay
No region OVERBERG Elgin
Klein River
No region CAPE AGULHAS Elim
No region WALKER BAY Hemel-en-Aarde Valley
Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley
Sunday’s Glen
Bot River
Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge
No region PLETTENBERG BAY No ward
No region No district Prince Albert Valley
No region No district Lamberts Bay
No region No district Swartberg
No region No district Cederberg
No region No district Ceres
No region No district Herbertsdale
NORTHERN CAPE No region No district Rietrivier FS
No region No district Hartswater
No region No district Lower Orange
No region DOUGLAS No ward
KWAZULU NATAL No region No district No ward

Cultivar in the wine of origin Scheme

All the cultivars used in South Africa belong to the Vitis vinifera species which was originally imported from Europe. Most cultivars are imported but there are a those that are unique to South Africa created by crossing varietals. The best known is the red variety Pinotage, which is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. Also attracting attention is the white variety Nouvelle, a crossing of Semillon and Crouchen Blanc (better known as Cape Riesling). There are approximately 75 cultivars approved for the production of wines of origin. The name of the culivar may be placed on the label if 85% of the content orininates from that cultivar

Grape cultivars to which the Wine of Origin Scheme applies :
  • Alicante Bouschet (Henri Bouschet)
  • Auxerrois, Barbera
  • *Bastardo do Castello
  • *Bastardo do Menudo
  • Bukettraube
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Carignan
  • Chardonnay
  • Chenel
  • Chenin Blanc (Steen)
  • Cinsaut (Cinsault)
  • Clairette Blanche
  • Colombar (Colombard)
  • Cornifesto
  • Crouchen (Riesling**;Cape Riesling; Kaapse Riesling)
  • *Donzellinho do Castello
  • *Donzellinho do Gallego
  • Durif
  • Emerald Riesling
  • *Erlihane
  • Fernão Pires
  • Furmint
  • Gamay Noir
  • Gewürtztraminer
  • Grachen
  • Grenache (Red/Rooi)
  • Grenache Blanc (White/Wit)
  • Harslevelü
  • Kerner
  • Malbec
  • Merlot
  • Meunier (Pinot Meunier)
  • Morio Muscat
  • *Mourisco Tinto
  • Mourvèdre (Mataro)
  • Müller-Thurgau
  • Muscat d’Alexandrie (Hanepoot)
  • Muscat de Frontignan (Muscadel)
  • Muscat de Hambourg
  • Muscat Ottonel, Nebbiolo
  • Nouvelle
  • *Olasz, Palomino (White French)
  • Petit Verdot (Verdot)
  • Pinotage
  • Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder)
  • Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio)
  • Pinot Noir
  • Pontak (Teinturier male)
  • Riesling*** (Rhine Riesling; Weisser Riesling)
  • Roobernet
  • Rousanne,
  • Ruby Cabernet
  • Sangiovese
  • Sauvignon Blanc (Blanc Fumé)
  • Schönburger
  • Sémillon (Groendruif)
  • Shiraz (Syrah)
  • Souzào
  • Sultana (Sultanina; Thompson’s Seedless),
  • Sylvaner
  • Tannat
  • Tempranillo (Tinta Roriz)
  • Therona
  • *Tinta Amarella (Tinta Amarela; Trincadeira; Trincandeira Preta)
  • Tinta Barocca
  • Tinta Francisca
  • Touriga Franca
  • Touriga Nacional
  • Ugni blanc (Trebbiano)
  • Verdelho
  • Viognier
  • Weisser Riesling (Rhine Riesling)
  • Zinfandel (Primitivo)

* This Scheme is applicable to this cultivar only until 31 December 2010.

**This name (Riesling) may only be used for wine produced from the Crouchen grape cultivar until, and inclusive of, the 2009 grape harvest.

***This name (Riesling) may only be used for wine produced from the Weisser Riesling/ Rhine Riesling grape cultivar as from the 2010 grape harvest.


With time, changes take place in a wine and therefore the age of a wine, with specific reference to vintage, can serve as a guide to another aspect of its character. 

The vintage which appears on the label of a wine confirms that at least 85% of the content of that bottle is from that specific claimed year. Vintage may only be indicated on a label if the wine is certified by the Wine and Spirit Board.

Certification as a guarantee to the public

A certification seal is a guarantee to the public that the claims made on the label are true and the wine was of good quality when cerfitied. A wine can only be certified when when all requirements of the wine of origin scheme are met i.e.  origin (eg Paarl), cultivar (eg Riesling) and vintage (eg 1997), the wine is also evaluated by one of the tasting panels of the Board and samples of all wines are also scientifically analysed to determine whether all the legal requirements have been met.

If a claim is to be made on origin, cultivar or vintage, a wine has to be certified. A certification seal is put on the packaging of such wine, confirming that while being evaluated by the Board the wine was of good quality and that any claims made on the label were checked and are truthful. 

Strict control is administered when a producer wants to certify a particular wine. Through an identification number on each certification seal, all information, from the pressing of the grapes, through the wine making process, to the certification of the final product, can be established. Control is exercised at the following stages: when an application is made to press grapes, during pressing, blending and bottling, and also when the preliminary and final approval is given.

During censorial evaluation to have the wines certified, the judges look for the following possible unacceptable quality characteristics:


Wine is not brilliant as it contains suspended particles or sediment, or excessive crusting has taken place and it can be described as slightly turbid.


With regard to age, cultivar and type of wine, it has:

· Too much colour

· Faulty colour

· Insufficient colour


With regard to age, cultivar or type of wine:

· Has no or insufficient recognisable wine flavour.

· Reveals so much wood character that it dominates the wine flavour.

· Has an insufficient or faulty cultivar character.

· Has an undesirable flavour (eg sulphuric compounds, oxidised, phenolic,

geranium, volatile acidity, ethyl acetate, sulphur dioxide, cork, filtering material,

oil, paint, mould, etc).

· Has the character of an over-matured wine.

· Has an excessively sharp spirit or brandy flavour.

· Does not display the required distinctive flavour.

Taste With regard to age, cultivar or type, the wine:

· Has no or insufficient recognisable taste, it can be described as watery

· Reveals so much wood character that it dominates its recognisable taste.

· It is too astringent: press must, stalk or husk character dominate its taste.

· Has an insufficient or faulty cultivar character.

· Has an undesirable taste (eg too acidic, too harsh, too bitter, or that of sulphuric compounds, oxidised, phenolic, geranium, volatile acidity, ethyl acetate, sulphur dioxide, cork, filtering material, ethyl acetate,

oil, paint, mould, etc).

· Has the character of an over-matured wine.

· Does not display the required distinctive taste.

Label Requirements

The label committee has to approve all labels before they can be used on certified wines as prescribed by regulations.

All compulsory particulars such as the class name, alcohol content, name and address or code number of the responsible seller, the origin appellation or the name of the geographical unit has to appear in the same visual field on one or more labels of a bottle of wine. Click HERE to see details of information which must appear on the label.  

Compulsory information must be clearly distinguished from other information on the label. The following information may only be used with regard to the selling of wine if the Wine of Origin Scheme authorises it:

· The name of the area which is defined as a unit for the production of estate 
  wine, ward, district, region or geographical unit.

· Names of grape cultivars.

· The indication of vintage.

· The words ‘estate’, ‘vineyard’, ‘origin’ and ‘vintage’.

· The term ‘Wine of Origin’.