There’s nothing like hearing a good story about the wine in your glass to appreciate the contents.
This was the case on January 20 when the Wine Tasters’ Guild visited the Bosman Family Vineyards on their Wellington estate Lelienfontein which, since 1798 has been the home to eight generations of Bosmans.
How the dark red Nero d’Avola, made from Sicily’s number one red grape variety Black Avola, was first brought to South Africa, speaks volumes about the initiative of Lelienfontein’s MD Petrus Bosman and his love for his future wife Carla who provided him with the “beautiful excuse” to visit the Italian island.
She told us that when Petrus decided it was time to make their own wines again after this practice had stopped in 1957 to concentrate on the estate’s vine industry, he had spent several happy months looking at the vineyards and wineries in Sicily.
He was struck by the similarities between Sicily and the Western Cape and thought that their famous Nero d’Avola would thrive in Wellington. So in 2004 he set about the lengthy process of importing the vines into South Africa.
“Two years in quarantine left only two surviving plants but cuttings were taken and propagated and eventually grafted successfully on to our established cabernet sauvignon rootstock.
“Then followed more battles with authorities before our Nero d’Avola was finally approved for propagation and in 2015 the first certified bottling was released.”
For 8th generation Petrus Bosman the Nero d’Avola saga was a personal project tied up with his family. His visits to Sicily were always made en route to London to see Carla who was then based there.
Every year the couple and their three sons harvest the Sicilian grapes by hand, cementing a new family tradition and celebrating their persistence in overcoming the red tape which threatened their project.
Lelienfontein is the home and workplace of all the current Bosmans as well as many of their 260 full-time workers who are from fifth generation families together owning 26% of the business. Collectively they are proud of their Fairtrade certification awarded for ethical and sustainable methods of producing and trading their wines.
It certainly adds to their flavour.
Thinking about drinking
I’ve been thinking of some of the everyday things we won’t be able to do if the taps are switched off.
Quenching that middle-of-the-night thirst with a glass of water from the bathroom tap.
Enjoying a two-minute, let alone a one-minute, shower.
Putting two cups of water in the kettle to make the early morning cuppa to drink in bed.
Dunking a wilting pot plant into a bit of water in the kitchen sink.
Automatically washing my hands in hot water before preparing any food, or after gardening.
Putting tap water into a pot for boiling veggies.
Occasionally flushing the loo to freshen the air. Washing hair in the wash-hand basin or under the shower and smalls by hand in the bathroom basin.
In fact washing anything big is going to be a problem with only 25 litres a day. But I heard one positive comment about the taps being off. “You won’t have to spoil a good whisky with water!”
Plastic shops abuzz
One man’s drought problem is another man’s profit. Our local plastic shops are doing a roaring trade in anything that can carry water. I popped into one shop about 4pm on Wednesday to find a suitable plastic replacement for a toilet-brush holder which had finally succumbed to the multiple teeth marks of our puppy.
The staff member who helped me said I was lucky to come when I did as it had been “impossibly hectic” earlier in the day with people pouring in to buy buckets of all sizes and 25 litre containers.
“And we are still quite a long way from Day Zero,” she said. “There may come a time when we don’t have any containers and customers will have to wait until we have more stock.”
The cynic in our family says not only will the demand send up the price of containers but she predicts that some of those buying Jo Jo tanks are not aiming to collect the autumn rains but rather to ignore restrictions and merrily fill the tanks with council water to avoid the inconvenience of Day Zero.
Sun is sleeping in
The sun is getting up later… and quickly. On New Year’s Day sunrise was at 5.38am but half an hour earlier it was light enough to wander around the garden checking on thirsty plants or walking the dogs.
However, by the end of January, sunrise was only at 6.06am.
We are now way past the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere where the longest day in Australia, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand and South Africa occurs on December 21 or 22 each year, while in the northern hemisphere the UK, USA, Canada, Russia, India and China experience their shortest day.
In those northern countries the December solstice is cause for celebration at it marks the beginning of the end of those long dark days although winter weather can drag on for months.
Similarly in South Africa the passing of our longest days is cause for a mild sadness that summer is on the way out.
Yet our hottest days are usually in February to early March.
Right now we should be grateful for shorter days as in theory less hours of sunlight is kinder to our gardens.
Salads don’t make you thin
What do we learn from cows, buffalo and elephants? It’s impossible to lose weight by eating green grass and salads and walking a lot.