Villiera is one of my favourite wine farms in Stellenbosch, not only because they support all Van Pepper Wines‘ event, but also cause they’re a family business run with some French flaire…

Our September Women of Wines events took place at Villiera, hosted by the lovely Celesté van der Merwe, who also organised a special game drive for the ladies.

A game drive in the Winelands. Photo by Theresa Rabe.

The ladies arrived, grabbed a glass of bubbly and off they went on the game drive with proprietor Jeff Grier. Judging by the smiling faces upon their return, the ladies thoroughly enjoyed spending some time in the outdoors with such lovely animals.

Back at the tasting room, we all snuggled up and started tasting some delightful bubblies. Having recently launched the 2005 Monro in a funky new purple packaging, I was quite excited to taste the new MCC… And it didn’t disappoint!
The bubblies were served with some goats’ milk and tomato tartlets, prepared by our culinary genious, Mari de Kock of Delicately Different.

Pascal El Azzi, Villiera’s local French wine ambassador had the ladies hanging from his lips conducting the tasting with a lovely French accent. We also tasted some delish Domaine Grier reds, wines from the Grier family’s vineyard in France. The rest of the evening was spent enjoying the wines, Mari’s chicken pie, and for dessert, chocolate brownies!

The ladies with our other favourite French man, Thibaut.

The Villiera Women of Wines was also Thibaut’s last WOW event, and it was a sad goodbye on the night! Luckily we have Pascal, our other favourite French man, to visit!

Don’t miss out on Villiera’s Game Drive and Wine tasting evenings coming up in December: Join the Facebook page.


About that Merlot…

September 21, 2010

Women of Wines took place at the beautiful Dornier in July. Both events were hosted by the super sexy JC Steyn – a delightful host to all the women.

Thibaut, Mari, Mariska and JC

The ladies were welcomed with the Cocoa Hill Rosé and some delicious salmon and cream cheese canapés, prepared by Mari de Kock of Delicately Different.

The evening was focused on Dornier’s reds, but we did try the Chenin Blanc – a superb Chenin, perfect for lazy spring afternoons. My personal favourite, was the Dornier Donatus Red.
Dinner, a simple and elegant vegetable pasta with lots of mushrooms, complimented the Dornier Merlot perfectly. I am not a big fan of Merlot, but this one might just change my view of Merlots!

The highlight of the evening, was Mari’s scrumptious vanilla cake topped with a lemon cream cheese icing. After intense convincing, JC poured us each a little bit of their yummy dessert wine.

Two fantastic events, hosted at a beautiful venue, with a charming winemaker – what more could a girl ask for!?

For photos of the event, visit Van Pepper Wines’ Facebook page.

Socks* and Wine

July 9, 2010

June’s Women of Wines took place at the stunning Peter Falke Wines. Before the two events, Thibaut (my fabulous French intern) and I visited the farm to meet with winemaker Tertius Naudé. We knew from the start it was going to be two fantastic events.

Wine tasting at Peter Falke

Due to a family holiday in Namibia, I missed the first event, but from the positive feedback I received, I can only conclude that it was a stunning night. The second event took place on a beautiful winter’s night. The tables were set up outside and the ladies got cosy under soft blankets and gas heaters. Mari and her team cooked some fantastic mini meals to accompany each wine.

The Peter Falke Sauvignon Blanc 2008 was paired with a wild mushroom risotto. The green apple, guava and honey dew melon of the SB enhanced the gorgeous flavours of the risotto. The Signature Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (this wine is only released pending an exceptional harvest) is quite an interesting wine. The nose is not quite there at first, but all of a sudden one is seduced by the aromas of passion fruit and pineapple with a lingering aftertaste of citrus. Mari prepared mini salmon, cranberry, brie and rocket wraps – divine! Butternut and sweet potatoe soup accompanied the Blanc de Noir 2008. A superbly balanced wine with a lovely sweet vanilla nose.

Thibaut, the fabulous French intern, and Tertius, the wonderful winemaker

Due to family commitments I couldn’t stay for the whole evening, so on a late Thursday afternoon Thibaut and I sampled the Peter Falke reds. It is so refreshing to see a winemaker being so humble about such magnificent wines. Tertius is releasing a Shiraz this year, and I can’t wait to try it. The two Cabernet Sauvignons we tasted, were also superb.

If you are in the mood to be blown off your feet with stunning wines and a gorgeous setting, don’t miss out on a tasting experience at Peter Falke Wines.

*Mr. Falke owns the winery and visits Stellenbosch regularly, and yes, Falke socks also belong to Peter Falke.

Ben’s night

June 27, 2010

Ben Momberg, our host at Middelvlei, started off the second event with a quote: “Every good company has a woman in charge”. Clever words from a man hosting an all-ladies event!

Middelvlei is one of Stellenbosch’s best kept secrets – a picturesque wine farm with excellent wines, a tasting area with a wood burning fireplace, and a marketing manager who lives and loves his brand.

Ben Momberg with Mari and me

In May we hosted two Women of Wines events at Middelvlei. Both evening were perfect winter’s nights – lots of rain and lots of red wine. We kicked off the evenings with their unwooded Chardonnay 2010 – a lovely, fruity, well-balanced wine. Middelvlei first made Chardonnay in 2004. Ben jokes that the family drank half the stock that year, and I can understand why!

Middelvlei’s free run Pinotage 2008 is definitely one of my favourite Pinotages. It doesn’t have that typical acetone, earthy taste, but also not the fashionable chocolate taste of recent Pinotages.

The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Ben describes as an “iron fist in a velvet glove”. Such a beautifully bold wine with wonderful chocolate and spiciness.

Both evenings were so relaxed and fun and Ben was a fantastic host. Lots of South African wine stories were shared, and it was wonderful to spend time with a knowledgeable host who didn’t mind to share his (passion for) wine. Mari’s delicious food provided the perfect match to the excellent wines.

Ben’s top three tips when purchasing wines:

  • Don’t buy a wine unless you’ve tasted it
  • Ask how long you can age the wine
  • If you have wine left on the day that you die, you didn’t plan well! 😉

For photos of the Middelvlei event, click here

This blog first appeared on the Greater Stellenbosch 2010 blog.

By Mariska du Preez from MDPmarketing

Winter in Stellenbosch is synonymous with delicious home cooked meals. And what better time than now to start compiling a list of the top 7 dishes to eat during this time of year?

  1. South African bean soup. My mom makes the best bean soup in the world. Her secret is to cook it for very long and prepare with lots of love. See end of blog for recipe.
  2. Waterblommetjie-bredie”. This truly South African stew is made from lilly flowers that can be bought at the side of the road from vendors. My friend, Mari de Kock will share her recipe with you if you ask nicely, but if you’re too lazy to cook it yourself, visit Volkskombuis.
  3. Pancakes. Nothing beats the taste of a warm pancake with cinnamon sugar.
  4. Another truly South African dish, afval. That is a meat dish made from the brains, feet and stomachs of animals. Oemf Eethuis in Stellenbosch host monthly afval evenings.
  5. My grandmother made a fantastic dessert called “souskluitjies” (sweet dumplings). This is unfortunately a family secret and you’ll have to be invited for dinner to experience that! ;)
  6. Every person should experience a potjie, made on an open fire with lots of meat, veggies and great South African red wine, once in their life.
  7. Last, but not least, lots and lots of chocolate. If you want to fall in love with a dessert, visit Clos Malverne for their dark chocolate fondant, filled with white chocolate.

Bean soup recipe

  • Onion
  • Lamb shank cut into pieces
  • 1 packet dry speckled beans
  • ½ packet samp
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • Salt, pepper

Fry onions and lamb till brown. Add 2litres of boiling water to the pot. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook for very long – at least 4 hours. Add water as needed.

Also visit CookSister! for some of these recipes and more…

I was shocked to discover that I haven’t blogged on Women of Wines since October 2009. Apologies to everyone who’s been waiting for some new wine news! 😉

Women of Wines
We kicked off the year at the historical Vergenoegd farm with the runner ducks opening the night, followed by The Runner Duck. We experienced chef Michael Israel’s passion for good food and wine (the tomato tart comes highly recommended).

February saw us visiting the gorgeous, family-owned Marklew Wines where the ladies were treated to a late night cellar tour and mos tasting with winemaker, Kajo Malek.

Marklew Women of Wines

One of my favourite farms, Longridge, was our venue for March’s WOW. The view, wines, and delicious food presented by Claire Maasch, and assistant winemaker, Hendrien Eloff, made for an unforgetable evening. Longridge hosts “Sop and Dop” evenings every second Friday, so don’t miss out on experiencing this gorgeous venue.

In April we had to expand our offering to include two events per month. We had a fantastic evening at Yonder Hill. Chef Mari de Kock had the chance to tantalise our taste buds with an ostrich lasagna which paired beautifully with Yonder Hill’s Inanda.

Cultivar tastings
2010 kicked off with some amazing events, and we are looking forward to more great wine evenings at stunning farms. Don’t miss out on Van Pepper Wines’ latest offering: Cultivar tasting with dinner and a hands-on cooking class. Our first event, a Gewürztraminer tasting hosted at Studio 6 with food prepared by Delicately Different, will take place on Thursday 3 June.

Wine Wednesdays: Kanu

October 28, 2009

Kanu Wine Estate, Polkadraai Road
Write-up by Woman of Wines, Mariska du Preez

Home of the “Killer Chenin Blanc”

The name Kanu is derived from a veteran farm hand on Goedgeloof, who told of the legend of a mythical bird of promise. The story tells that when the bird appeared, all those who fell under its shadow would be blessed with a bountiful harvest.

Kanu is known for its Chenin Blanc, a cultivar which has gained popularity over the last few years because of wine farms like Kanu who make a very delicious Chenin.

The tasting room is geared for huge numbers of people, and the adjoining shop indicates that Kanu can with pride focus on the international market.

We tasted their three Chenins: Chenin 2008, KCB 2006 and the Noble Late Harvest, as well as the 2005 Shiraz.


Chenin 2008 A fresh, fruity, tropical wine, perfect for drinking on its own or with a salad Nicoise. The winemaker added 5% Chenin which was matured in second fill old barrels – just to add a little “ribcage to build around the wine”.

KCB 2006 The Kanu Chenin Blanc (or “Killer Chenin Blanc” as it is referred to in the industry) is definitely one of the best bottles of wines I’ve had this year. It’s got the perfect characteristics of a well-made wooded Chenin, caramel (or tamalêtjie, as my mom would say), and hints of roasted pineapple. The perfect balance between acidity and sweetness exists integrated with a fantastic fruity character. This wine would pair perfectly with a mild curry, spicy foods, and my favourite, sushi!

Kanu Shiraz 2005 It is always dangerous to drink red wines when you know the farm is actually well-known for its whites. But Kanu doesn’t disappoint with its Shiraz – a spicy, red meat nose and gorgeous vanilla, mocha and white spice on the palate.

Noble Late Harvest 2005 (Kia-Ora) This wine reminds me of those white honey flowers and malva pudding. A superb, sweet, dessert wine with a perfect marriage of high acidity and high sugar. This wine reminded Simon of home-made apricot jam and has a surprising hint of nougat on the nose when the glass is empty. The perfect dessert wine: Think strong blue cheese or crème brulée.

Kanu | Polkadraai Road | 021 881 8140

Write up by Woman of Wines, Mariska du Preez

Having attended most of the Western Cape’s wine festivals over the last decade or so, I think I’ve finally come up with the perfect way to “do” wine festivals…

winefest 135_778x518
The most important thing to remember is you’re not going to be able to taste all of the wines on offer. Making peace with that, and common sense that drinking 4000 x 15ml of wine is probably not such a good idea, approach the wine festival with a bit of strategic planning:

– Decide whether you want to do whites or reds, and stick to that. Alternatively, if you want to try all of them, start with bubbly, then Rosé, then white and then red. Don’t walk and mix. Most festivals are more than one day, so my perfect strategy is: Bubbly and whites on night 1, Rosé and reds on night 2, and on night 3 you go back and taste all the good ones again.

– Do a bit of research beforehand. Most festivals offer an extensive event website so you can see who will be there and which wines will be on offer. (WineX even categorises it by cultivar).

– Ask a wine-drinking buddy for advice. My wino friend, Zawino, compiled a list specifically for WineX.

– Compile your own “hit list”. Decide beforehand which wines you definitely want to try on the night. After tasting those, look around for…

a) Marketing machines: I’m a great believer in supporting people who spend time and effort on their marketing campaign. If the stall looks pretty, I’d definitely swing by for a swig…

b) Try and discover some hidden gems. It’s fantastic to stick to the “big guns” year after year after year (and that makes for a very satisfying festival experience indeed), but do try and discover at least one wine that blows you away, one that you can mention at a dinner party.

– Lastly, keep in mind that you are there to have a wine experience. Ask questions, engage with the person pouring your wine, and try to learn one interesting fact about each farm you visit.

The point of a wine festival, is to discover wines you enjoy, identify farms you’d like to visit, and collect stories to cherish.

winefest 134_778x518
My top picks:

Stellenbosch Wine Festival: Showcasing some of our best local wines, giving you a great overview of the Stellenbosch wineroute. The whole festival has expanded to include food stalls and entertainment. Takes place during the last week of July.

WineX: My personal favourite as it has a select number of top farms, who each showcase some of their top wines. (It’s at WineX that I discovere Krone Brut Rosé, and I’ve never looked back!). Takes place during the second week of September.

Seasons of Sauvignon Blanc: All the farms in the Durbanville area showcase their latest vintage Sauvignon Blanc during the first weekend of October. Each farm has entertainment, food stalls and lots and lots of Sauvignon Blanc!

Helderberg Wine Festival: Coming at the end of October – this one should be spectacular!

*This is a tongue-in-cheek play on words of the popular book series and in no means a reflection of the wine drinking population’s IQ

Source: LifeAfter5

Wine Wednesdays: Stellekaya

September 30, 2009

Women, wine and a very good tasting!

By Mariska du Preez


IT is always a fun wine tasting if we get to meet the winemaker. If the winemaker is charismatic and winner of the 2009 SA women winemaker of the year competition, even better.

Stellekaya is a privately owned boutique winery and is situated close to Bosman’s Crossing, neighbouring Vilafonté and Dalla Cia. According to Annareth Bolton, CEO of Stellenbosch Wineroutes, this is soon to become the “shortest” sub-route of our wine route. Stellekaya makes only reds, and great ones at that.

Stellekaya’s wine are divided into two categories: The Fusion collection, which comprises of classic red blends, and The Eclipse collection, which is classic red varietals. The constellation theme is a nice touch and eash wine has a story about the star it’s named after.

Simon and Mariska at StellekayaSimon and Mariska at Stellekaya

Boschetto 2004 This is Stellekaya’s entry level wine and at R40 a bottle, definitely worth having in your easy drinking collection.

Fusion collection
Cape Cross 2004
A great Cape blend of 50% Merlot, 30% Pinotage and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Some wonderful flavours of strawberry and mocha and according to Simon, the perfect balance between Pinotage and Merlot.

Orion 2005 The Stellekaya flagship, comprising of a 3-varietal Bordeaux blend: 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot and 9% Cab Franc. This wine was matured for 20 months and only 10 barrels were made.

Hercules 2006 Definitely my favourite. This is an intensely sumptious wine, with herbaceous characters and a complexity that leaves me in awe. 49% Sangiovese (a red Italian grape variety, famous as the main component of the Chianti blend), 30% Merlot and 21% Cabernet Sauvignon. AT R73.50 (cellar door) the bargain of the year!

Eclipse collection
It is not easy to determine whether Stellekaya’s blends or straight varietals are better, in my opinion, I prefer the blends, whilst Simon thinks the Cabernet Sauvignon is out of this world. Tasting room manager, Alvi, swears by the Shiraz.

Merlot 2005 There is an explosion of spice on the nose and palate, which makes for a refreshing change. Nice falvours of plum and blackcurrant as well.

Shiraz 2006 A very smooth Shiraz. Simon points out one usually expects a Shiraz to be like a little midget in your mouth, punching your cheeks, but this one is incredibly gentle. We think this will pair beautifully with lamb shank.

Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 The most expensive wine in the Eclipse collection (at R85 a bottle) but rightly so. An overall stunning wine.

Do yourself a favour and visit the Stellekaya cellar.

Open Monday to Friday from 9h00 to 16h00 and on Saturdays until 13h00.

Wine Wednesdays: L’Avenir

September 16, 2009

Not a lot can get me up on a Sunday morning, but the prospect of spending a morning with my favourite photographer, Stephan Marais, and his girlfriend on a wine farm, got me up with a smile.

The L’Avenir building is quite impressive – you can’t miss it on the left-hand side on the way to Paarl. They have a gorgeous function venue, accommodation and a stunning wine tasting area. The tasting area is adorned with prints of Jason Biggs’ photographs and adds to the relaxed and elegant ambience. The estate has just launched a Rosé bubbly, the perfect drink to get us in the mood for the tasting hosted by Richard.

The gorgeous colour of L’Avenir’s MCC Brut Rosé.The gorgeous colour of L’Avenir’s MCC Brut Rosé.
The girls enjoying the bubbly.The girls enjoying the bubbly.

The Wines
L’Avenir has three ranges: the affordable Classic Range, the Platinum Range, and then the range that makes us all want to be millionaires: Icon Range.

Méthode Cap Classique Brut Rosé 2007 This MCC has the most beautiful colour and consists of 50% Pinotage, 40% Chenin and 10% Chardonnay. I loved the taste, and I’m quite sure litres of this will go down at Woman of Wines’ parties this coming summer. It has the perfect balance between yeastiness (the “suurdeeg” smell one should pick up in a good MCC) and the fruitiness of the Pinotage.

Chenin Blanc 2008 This Chenin forms part of the Platinum range and has the typical pineapple and melon taste. I do find it lacks a bit of an aftertaste. But then again, not all wines have to stay on your palate that long!

Chardonnay 2008 Being a bit of a closet Chardonnay lover, this wine made me smile… A great golden colour and fantastic caramel taste with a toasty nose and some hints of apricot and mineral.

Grand Vin Chenin 2007 Only 1200 bottles are produced, and trust me, you’d want to get your hands on at least one of them. This is a fabulous perfectly balanced Chenin – my choice for an indulgent afternoon of sushi, wine and sunshine. Stephan said it tastes like liquid happiness*.

Cabernet Franc 2006 The tasting notes sum up this wine perfectly: “Dense, dark berry-fruit with a touch of sandalwood held within a soft tannin structure”. By this time we were quite hungry and unanimously agreed that this Cab Franc would pair perfectly with a flamed medium rare steak and rosemary potatoes.

Stellenbosch Classic 2006 L’Avenir’s Bordeaux blend comprising of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot. This one comes highly recommended for its perfect cherry and chocolate aftertaste. Drink lots of it!! (At R85 maybe a bit steep to be classified as your “every day drinking wine”, but once again, if we were all millionaires, we could!).

Pinotage 2007 Beautiful ruby colour. It smells a lot more spicy than it really is. This was definitely Marguerite’s favourite wine: cassis, fruit cake and chocolate. Yum yum.

Grand Vin Pinotage 2007 I don’t taste a R250 bottle of wine that often, and I also don’t want to get into the whole cost vs. value debate. But… if you have R250 laying around go get yourself a bottle of this!! Absolutely gorgeous – the perfect blend of chocolate and mocha… Dessert, Christmas and heaven all in one bottle.

It is not often that one comes across a wine estate that excels in bubbly, white and red, but honestly, if you want the best of all three, do pay L’Avenir a visit!

*Ask Stephan if you want the Afrikaans translation! ;)

L’Avenir Wine Estate
Open 7 days a week (until 16h00 on weekends)