Our village is one of those rural places in South Africa without any tourist traps. That alone makes it an intriguing place for the curious, exploration minded, traveler. And if you are one of those sheep following the mainstream … well we’re fine with it but, please, do visit all those famous attractions. Here we move (or not) in rural pace and take our time for it. A paddle in the Klein Rivier which flows over in one of the most amazing lagoons in this part of the world; watch birds (there are a few hundred different species); take a hike to one of the numerous waterfalls; ride one horseback through the vineyards or in the ‘veld’; enjoy the majestic views all around; chilling a sunset (and for the early birds the sunrise); have lunch or dinner out- or indoors or take a picnic where-ever; enjoy a wine tasting; read a book; etc. etc. Just enjoy Quality of Village Life.
This week I had two posts about the grape harvest and the grape processing at Springfontein Winery. I promised to keep the tasting ‘in the barrel’. Well …. tasting is something personal for everybody has his/hers own taste buds. The majority of overseas tourists in South Africa choose for tastings at cellars of which the wines are commonly known in the supermarkets abroad. And also most South Africans go mainstream. If you are as stubborn as I am go for a surprise. Who has ever heard of Reynecke in Stellenbosch? Sumsare in Robertson? Or Veenwouden in Drakenstein? And have you, until my first post about this subject, ever heard of Springfontein?
If you like the wine of an ‘unknown’ cellar just buy a bottle for a special occasion at home. If you can buy these ‘collectors items’ in Europe or where-ever you live you probably pay a fortune. The average price of South African mainstream wines in the mainland of Europe is, for whatever reason, 20 to 30% cheaper than at the cellar. Sounds strange but is true!
But also from a visual point of view the ‘unknown’ cellars can surprise you. See here the tasting room of Springfontein reflected…
Growing grapes is one thing but creating excellent wines of grapes demands at least as much craftmanship. Although modern technology helps the wine maker he/she still needs the, as the Germans say, ‘Fingerspitzengefuhl’. At Springfontein in Stanford, South Africa, the grapes are first manually graded (no machine can do it that good) and next the stalks and (partly) skins are automatically removed… well to keep a long story short: via cooling, pressing and (temporary) storage, etc. the wine matures in wooden barrels (and after that some wines mature a few extra years in the bottle in an optimal environment such as a cellar or climatized room).
You can read between the lines that wine-making is a kind of magic and I don’t understand any of it but I can tell you the difference between a good and not so good wine.
Let’s keep the tasting for tomorrow. Here a few post-harvest pictures.
Early Monday morning staff of Springfontein in Stanford, South Africa gathered together at the cellar. From there we all went to the vineyards settled in a great natural landscape. It must be a joy to start the annual harvest in such majestic surroundings in a strip of land between the lagoon and the ocean. The terroir of the Springfontein grapes is unique and the wines end up in private collections and upmarket restaurants in (merely German speaking) Europe.
See for yourself.