Wine lovers’ paradise under an oak

After being transported into Italy by Caroline Rillema’s charming and informative presentation at Groot Constantia of 10 of Italy’s finest wines (ranging from R185 to a whopping R1 862), I was delighted to find myself back in Cape Town holding a free voucher (worth R105) to explore Groot Constantia any time within the next six months.

The estate is currently running a promotion for its “Visitors Route Experience”.

Thanks to the events manager Karen Woodcock handing our cellar master Dennis Gowdy enough vouchers for all the members of the Wine Tasting Guild, we will have no excuse to know only the tasting room where we meet regularly.

There’s a surprising amount to do at Groot Constantia and the brochure came with an aerial map showing and naming all the buildings as well as the different grapes in the vineyards. I was happy to note that the largest area is devoted to sauvignon blanc (my favourite summer tipple) with merlot and muscat roughly tying for second position.

Groot Constantia may be the oldest wine-producing farm in South Africa but it has moved with the times.

To make use of the free VoiceMap for iOS and Android, you need to sign up with email or Facebook, select Cape Town and choose one of the three tours – A is the museum, B the vineyard, C the cellar. When the download has been completed a green start button appears and off you go….

You can explore the manor house where there is a cultural history museum, or visit the wine museum in the historic Cloete cellar – birthplace of their famous Grand Constance. If you try wine tasting you will receive a crystal wine glass to take home as a souvenir and you can find out if a wine and chocolate pairing is to your liking. You can also view South African art on show in the production cellar and tasting rooms.

As one of our most popular routes at Run Walk for Life is to Groot Constantia, there is simply nothing to beat walking around the estate admiring the vineyards and old buildings in their beautiful mountain setting.

Next time I will use the visitors map to identify the different cultivars. Starting from the gate to the manor house they go from shiraz, to cab, petit verdot and cab and from the second gates three vineyards of Muscat.

City of all seasons

Cape Town is a city of two climates. That situation was in evidence on Sunday October 14 for the running of the annual Gun Run’s half marathon, 10km and 5 km events. While those living in the southern suburbs complained of the strong cold wind, competitors starting on Beach Road at the Hotel School and finishing on Green Point’s rugby field had ideal running conditions.

It was cool, overcast but with minimum wind. We could not have asked for better weather.

The organisation of the event gets better every year.

Now that runners are put into “pens”, depending on their fitness and age, the congestion at the start is largely avoided as the faster competitors no longer have to struggle to get past the slower ones. Also the trucks accepting tog bags conveniently moved after the start to park near the finish saving tired competitors long walks to retrieve their belongings.

Snails by the dozens

The downside of the good winter rains is that some gardeners have an unwelcome crop of snails. This even led to a temporary shortage of snail bait causing gardeners to devise other methods to kill the rapacious shelled gastropods. Crushing them underfoot releases their eggs. Kill them quickly in a bucket of boiling water, or let them drown slowly in cold water?

My solution with the buckets of tiny hard shelled snails which I picked off the outside walls of our Langebaan cottage was to wait for the high tide and drop them into the lagoon. They had a 50-50 chance of being washed ashore by the incoming tide…but they wouldn’t have found much to eat.

Yes, I do[not]

Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution just yet. – Mae West.