Wishing You Every Happiness This Festive Season
13 December 2016
Our family has been on Thelema for thirty-three years and this year has been far and away the toughest, for various reasons. Fortunately we are a resilient bunch here. Not only our terrific staff, who have handled the crises selflessly and bravely, but the vegetation on this property has also shown amazing fighting spirit. What are you talking about, I’m imagining you’re thinking?
Well, on the 19th of January this year at about 11:30 in the morning I was driving back from a vineyard inspection on Sutherland and, as I approached Stellenbosch near the golf course, I saw a column of smoke on the Franschhoek side of Simonsberg. My immediate reaction was ‘HKGK’, which, roughly translated, means that we should expect a spot of bother. Sure enough, at about 7:30 in the evening a massive fire hit our top vineyards and kept all of us, as well as very kind volunteer neighbours, battling to salvage what we could. Fortunately nobody got hurt and no buildings were affected, but the vineyards on the foothills of the mountain were badly hit, and some of my favourite old trees, especially one magnificent Maytenus oliodes, were severely damaged, presumed dead. Initial estimates of the damage to vineyards indicated that we should remove about 5 hectares of vineyard on top of the fruit loss of about 100 tons.
We lost the fruit, but our vines and the trees are fighting back. My favourite tree miraculously started shooting a few months after the fire and looks like it will make a full recovery, and many vines, at one stage looking like gonners, are growing again. The vintage wasn’t a total disaster fortunately, as about 70% of the vineyards were not affected by the fire and Sutherland produced another brilliant crop, but it reminds me, again, that we have a very special, sometimes fragile, but always exciting property in Stellenbosch that doesn’t induce boredom. So what am I going to do next year when I retire?
Well I’ll probably be drinking some of the wines we have on offer at the moment. My favourites currently are the whites from Sutherland, especially the Viognier / Roussanne which is a fabulous food wine, high in flavour and texture but low in acidity, and the Chardonnay is a secret gem. Ironically it scores better overseas than locally, twice being voted top South African Chardonnay in two UK competitions and it is an absolute bargain in my opinion! Another hidden gem is the Semillon Late Harvest, if you’re after a sticky – it has that brilliant crème brulee sort of flavour you get in Sauternes but also a lightness and freshness that I love. And then of course there are days when a red is required for dinner and I appropriate left-overs from the tasting room – so far there haven’t been any duds there, so I’d recommend them all!
Lastly I would like to wish all of you a joyous and peaceful holiday season. We would love to see you at Thelema or hear your feedback, so please keep in touch.
Until next time
TASTING ROOM OPENING TIMES DURING THE FESTIVE SEASON
If you’re planning on visiting Thelema during the Festive Season, please take note of our opening hours:
- Friday, 16th December – OPEN (10h00 – 15h00)
- Sunday, 18th December – CLOSED
- Saturday, 24th December – OPEN (10h00 – 15h00)
- Sunday, 25th December – CLOSED
- Monday, 26th December – CLOSED
- Tuesday, 27th December – OPEN (10h00 – 15h00)
- Saturday, 31st December – OPEN (10h00 – 15h00)
- Sunday, 1st January – CLOSED
WINE EVENTS TAKING PLACE IN THE NEW YEAR
Our calendar is already filling up for 2017. The following events are not to be missed out on: