Temperatures have plummeted and the days are shorter, which mean winter is here! But there’s no time to hibernate, says KARIN DE BEER – rather enjoy the special things the new season brings, like an awesome art festival on the rocks, a heart-warming feast in a cellar and a glass of red wine by a crackling fire.
Explore the picturesque Franschhoek Valley on the new double-decker tram. Modelled on the Blackpool Corporation Tramways Double Deck Balcony Tramcar, each one seats up to 78 passengers. You can book on the Franschhoek Wine Tram website for hop-on, hop-off tours (R220 per person), group excursions (R195 per person) or guided experiences (R1 050 per person).
There are six hop-on, hop-off lines to choose from, each showcasing a different part of the Franschhoek Valley. You travel by tram and tram-bus around a loop of stops and can hop off at as many of the wineries along the route as you like. Activities are for your own account and it is advisable to make bookings in advance, in particular for lunch at the winery of your choice. The group experience is for groups of 20 or more, but is more personalised and includes the booking of wine tastings and lunch (you still have to pay the estate directly). The full-day guided experience takes you to three wineries and includes a wine lecture, a three-course lunch, wine tastings and wine pairings.
RED WINE & FIREPLACES
Chilly days are made for mellowing out in front of a crackling fire with a glass of full-bodied red wine in hand, whether at home or at a farm famous for its excellent reds. These four will banish any winter blues:
- Beyerskloof outside Stellenbosch is re-nowned for excellent Pinotage. Enjoy a glass of this uniquely South African varietal at a fireplace outside the tasting room or with a signature Pinotage Burger in the Bistro, which also has a fireplace and beautiful vineyard views.
- There is no better place to be on a rainy winter’s day than the big industrial-style building of Neil Ellis Wines on the Helshoogte Pass. Here you can keep an eye on nature through huge glass panels while relaxing at a fireplace with elegant wine and a charcuterie platter.
- The Tasting Room of Anura Vineyards in Klapmuts has a cosy fireplace where you can savour outstanding red wine with hand-crafted cheeses or tasty bites from a small tapas menu. It is open daily from 9am until 5pm.
- For the ultimate chocolate and wine pairing experience right beside a fireplace, visit the Tasting Room at Waterford Estate on Blaauwklippen Road.
HOOKED ON CLASSICS
If you are not hooked on classical music already, the annual Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival will put you under its spell. The feast of outstanding musicianship runs from 6 to 15 July in the Endler Hall. It is also a nurturing ground for young talent, where daily activities include coaching and student concerts in addition to public master classes, evening faculty concerts, interviews and orchestral concerts.
The popular evening concerts feature works from the standard chamber music oeuvre as well as a number of South African and world premieres. Conductors such as internationally acclaimed maestros Joost Smeets and South Africa-born Xandi van Dijk will grace the stage, while instrumental performers include principals from the MET Opera Orchestra, Dwight Parry (oboe), Demarre McGill (flute), Nicholas Dautricourt and Siwoo Kim (violin), Juan Miguel Hernandez (viola), Alexander Buzlov (cello) and Uxia Martinex Botana (double bass).
Tickets are available from Computicket.
The coastal town of Hermanus showcases the splendour and variety of South African art and artists from 8 to 17 June at the sixth Hermanus FynArts. The programme has almost doubled in size since the festival’s launch in 2013. Choose from a wide offering of concerts, art exhibitions, talks and workshops, food demonstrations, wine tastings and more.
Musical highlights include the opening concert by leading baroque orchestra Camerata Tinta Barocca, a Feast of Opera and Operetta, Nataniël in Concert, Richard Cock and Friends, late night jazz and intimate house concerts. A big attraction for art lovers is Sculpture on the Cliffs, the FynArts signature exhibition; 11 artists were invited to participate this year. There is also an exhibition of new paintings by this year’s Festival Artist, Kate Gott-gens; a group ceramic exhibition titled Beyond Fire; and special festival exhibitions in galleries in town and on wine farms. A new addition this year is ballet, with short pieces performed by Cape Town City Ballet.
Find out more at www.hermanusfynarts.co.za.
JAZZ & CHEESE FONDUES
Gather family and friends for a food-sharing feast in Delheim’s cosy underground cellar. The estate’s popular Jazz & Cheese Fondue has been bringing good cheer for more than a decade and this year it has been jazzed up with a fresh new line-up. In an exciting collaboration between Delheim and the Cape Town Music Academy and Jazz in the Native Yards, established and emerging musicians will entertain you with three live jazz sessions at each event. All you have to do is sit back and relax to the rhythmic tunes while dipping fresh bread and crispy vegetable crudités into sizzling pots of melting Gruyère and Emmentaler cheese.
The Jazz & Cheese Fondues take place on Sundays (12.30–3.30pm) from 24 June until 26 August. The cost is R450 per person, which includes a shared cheese fondue and Delheim wine, live music cover charge and soup and a glass of glühwein on arrival.
Bookings are required. Phone 021 888 4600 or send an email to email@example.com. or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WINE SAFARI ON TABLE MOUNTAIN
Experience Table Mountain, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, like never before on a wine safari presented by Durbanville Hills. The memorable ride starts at the cableway at the bottom of the mountain when you take your seat in a safari vehicle with guide Henri Bruce. He will tell you more about the hidden wonders of the mountain during the scenic ride, which even takes you through areas not usually open to public vehicles.
At the highest point of the safari you’ll be blown away by spectacular views of Table Bay, False Bay, the Durbanville wine region and the dramatic Hottentots Holland mountain range. Here you will also find historic cannons used centuries ago to signal warnings to approaching ships. A light lunch is served with superlative wines from the Durbanville Hills range. The approximately three-hour safari costs R500 per person and includes a bottle of wine to take home. A donation of 10% of all proceeds will be made to South African National Parks (SANParks) for the conservation and general upkeep of national parks. Safaris can be booked for a minimum of two people and a maximum of six people.
Book at www.durbanvillehills.co.za or phone Henri on 076 788 4992 for more information.
FIND OF THE SEASON
Walk at nature’s pace and discover rare varieties of indigenous trees at Summerfields Rose Retreat & Spa on the banks of the Sabie River in Hazyview, Mpumalanga. Indigenous tree expert Michael Oosthuyzen has identified more than 70 species on the 5-star, family-owned retreat and working farm, sometimes within a 1ha block. This is remarkable because only 11% of South Africa’s tree species is found all over the country; the remaining 89% is confined to specific locations.
A few of those found on the farm are considered protected plants, including jackalberry, marula, matumi and yellowwood trees. There are also species unique to the Lowveld region, such as buffalo thorn, fever tree, wild tobacco, Lowveld cabbage tree and river bushwillow. The diversity of tree species, many of which are fruit-bearing, means the birdlife on the farm is prolific, with more than 100 species already identified. Summerfields is located at the Kruger National Park’s Phabeni Gate.
Read more at www.summerfields.co.za.
Walk, run, cycle, meditate or have a picnic under a clear blue winter sky with an amazing mountain view in the background. Sometimes we forget about the gems in our midst, such as Jan Marais Nature Reserve, a green zone in Stellenbosch that everyone can enjoy without paying a cent. The 23ha reserve is home to indigenous trees and fynbos, and you can explore it leisurely on foot (remember to wear walking shoes suitable for the dirt paths).
Along the way you can see works by well-known local artists such as Herman van Nazareth, Strijdom van der Merwe, Jaco Sieberhagen and Dylan Lewis, as well as a labyrinth designed by Terry de Vries. Take a breather at the pond area and settle down on a bench to take in the stunning mountain view and interesting shell spirals by Hettie de Klerk.
Don’t miss the Gedigtetuin (Garden of Poetry), an enclosed space where beautiful poems by famous Afrikaans poets are displayed for you to read by light filtering through the trees.
THE ART OF STRETCHING
If you plan to get in shape during the chilly season, consider putting the art of controlled stretching to the test. Pilates is synonymous with lean, toned bodies, but actually is a fantastic exercise for both body and mind. It is described as ‘stretching with strength and control’. Each movement is an exercise in awareness because you have to focus on balance, control and precision. You can try it out at the new Pilates for Life studio (084 088 4868, email@example.com) at Spice Route, which offers classic and modern Pilates classes at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.
You get your first class for free and there are discounts on signing up. In Stellenbosch you can join LeCiel Studio (firstname.lastname@example.org, 079 318 4025, leciel.studio), where your body and mind will be introduced to Pilates with a one-off individual orientation session. Thereafter you can choose a monthly package. The founder, Cecile Sasman, is a qualified BASI (Body Art Science International) mat work instructor. The Stellenbosch Pilates Studio (076 762 5530, or e-mail email@example.com) is also a good option because its mat classes are presented by a physiotherapist and a clinical dietician, ensuring a holistic health and fitness experience.
AS PRETTY AS A PICTURE
Famous as the wine capital of South Africa, Stellenbosch is also considered to be the country’s art Mecca. You’ll be amazed to hear that the City of Oaks is home to 17 art galleries, two art museums, four academic institutions, sculpture gardens, foundries and outdoor art exhibitions. You might even bump into a renowned artist while exploring the vibrant art scene, such as Strijdom van der Merwe, Dylan Lewis or Bruce Little.
There is something for every art lover’s taste: extraordinary sculptures at Delaire Graff Estate or the enchanting Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden; check out contemporary pieces at SMAC, Absolut Art, MOK and Cavalli; or marvel at traditional works at Stellenbosch Art Gallery. Don’t miss the Rupert Museum’s Walter Battiss exhibition, ‘I invented myself’, on until 14 August. A feature of the town’s art scene are the Wednesday Art Walkabouts at the Stellenbosch Museum – every first Wednesday of the month from 1.05pm to 2pm. Previously unseen artworks from the
museum’s permanent collection are on display.
Look out for an art map with all the exciting art destinations, which will be launched in spring by Stellenbosch 360.