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.
I 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!!!
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.
The 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.
Back to Stellenbosch we go for this weeks Striated Sky. The building pictured; the Theological Seminary, 171 Dorp Street, Stellenbosch is another of the dozens of heritage buildings that are to be found in the picturesque university town. The current facade of the building was completed in 1905 but this site has a history that is filled with interesting stories and tragedy.
The site on which the Seminary stands was an island in the Eerste River and the spot where Simon van der Stel has camped on the night of 6 November 1679. It is the site of the first building in Stellenbosch, the drosty which was built in 1686/7 and housed the Court and home to the magistrate. It was in fact the magistrate, Samuel Martini de Meurs, who whilst attempting to light his pipe in a howling south-easterly wind, caused the first fire to destroy the building in 1710. The building, which was rebuilt burned down again in 1762 and in 1768 a flood destroyed some of the building.
In 1768 it was converted to an H Shape building and in 1770 due to deepening of the river, the northern branch of the Eerste dried up and was filled in. In 1828, local government was abolished and the building stood empty for 12. In 1853, it was bought by some villagers and ceded to the Church in 1859 with the inauguration of the Theological Seminary. In 1868, Carl Otto Hager added a second storey to the building.
In 1905 additions were added to the Seminary and the façade was changed to the present appearance with a predominantly eclectic approach with strong French influence.
The building is stunning and it would be amazing for someone to build a virtual tour of the changes that have taken place on the land over the years. You must take a look at this building while you walk the streets of Stellenbosch on your next visit. There is so much to learn and I hope that this will wet your appetite.
- Stellenbosch Heritage
- Stellenbosch University Theology Department
- Stellenbosch Connect
- Wikipedia list of Heritage Sites in Stellenbosch
The Taal Monument (Afrikaans Language Monument) can be found on the Mountain above Paarl. It gives you a history of the Afrikaans Language and is a monument to the language and its origins. The view from the monument is stunning and you can have an awesome home cooked style breakfast or lunch at the Volksmond Coffee Shop. This is an absolute must go to spot if you are in the area. The views are absolutely stunning and it is worth the R20 entrance fee.
The monument is 40 years old this year and and developing a new website for the occasion. For more information you can view their Facebook page. All sorts of events take place at the monument, from concerts and full moon picnics to trail running events.
If you take a drive up to the monument then I suggest that once you are done take a drive along the Jan Phillips Bergpad to the Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve. The views are stunning. Please note that you do need cash in order to enter the nature reserve so check here or call to confirm the amount.
When you are in the Paarl area on your wine tasting adventures and discovering what the Cape has to offer make sure that you put this on the to do list.
2015 is rushing along like years seem to do these days and so far I have published 12 striated skies out of the 52 for the year. I am thoroughly enjoying this project and hope that you are too. Let me know what has been your favourite so far.
Tomorrow I will publish number 13 titled “Creeping Condensation”.