Experiencing the ‘Valley of the Wagon Makers’

Wellington is home to a rich history steeped in culture, agriculture and breathtaking natural beauty. With the second oldest co-operative cellar in the country and a farm that boasts eight generations of farmers, this hidden gem offers a lot to be discovered. Though rainy weather does not necessarily make for the best conditions to be outside, it certainly did not put a damper on our adventure into the Bontebok Ridge Reserve. We were greeted at the cosy outdoor venue with hospitality, KWV 1975 ‘long neck’ Muscadel and a breakfast crafted from Wellington produce.

Bontebok Ridge Reserve owner Tom Turner is proud of his status as the first contractual nature reserve in South Africa which as he explains was assigned to them purely for the preservation of the indigenous Renosterveld. Bontebok Ridge is part of the Renosterveld Conservancy and Tom and his wife Katja are proud to be part of preserving the remaining four percent of Renosterveld left in the world.

The Bontebok Ridge Reserve encompasses 560ha in total of which 40ha is undervine and a further 500ha is home to several Quagga’s who are part of the Quagga breeding project, as well as Zebra, Eland, Bontebok, Fish Eagles and the recently acquired Pinotage loving Wild Boars.

Our next stop took to us to the Bosman Family Vineyards where we were treated with a wine tasting of their Bosman Optenhorst Chenin Blanc 2009 and the 2010 Rosé 30 in their cellar of which the oldest part dates back 250 years.

Bosman Family Vineyards winemaker Corlea Fourie led the tasting and explained that the Optenhorst Chenin Blanc was made from old vines which date back to 1952. The Rosé 30 as Corlea explained, is an extremely interesting wine made from 30 cultivars grown in the Bosman Family’s vine nursery in the Upper Hemel and Aarde Valley. The vine nursery is 80ha at present but due to its dynamic character it is increasing in size every year as the area around it is cleared for further planting.

After Corlea concluded the tasting of the first two wines, Frank Meaker took the floor and presented a tasting of two vintages of the Bovlei Merlot, the 2006 and the 2007. Frank’s passion for Merlot is clearly evident in his statement, “merlot is my favourite grape, a lot of people don’t have a passion for merlot but that’s their problem”.

Once we had completed our wine tasting we were free to roam about the cellar and there I discovered an old barrel marked with the initials H.L. Bosman and 1801 in white. After enquiring about the authenticity of the barrel I was informed by Bosman Family Vineyards’ Neil Büchner that the barrel was indeed authentic and was used by third generation winemaker Hermanus Lambertus Bosman to produce wine for Oude Plantasie.

Next up on our agenda was lunch in recently renovated manor house on the estate which Petrus and Carla Bosman had only moved into a month before. There we were treated to dishes prepared by Chef Johan van Schalkwyk who cooks at The Stonekitchen on neighbouring Dunstone wine estate.

The meal consisted of a starter soup made from freshly picked Porcini mushrooms (Johan informed us that he had gone picking before we arrived), Eland and Wild boar meat from Bontebok Ridge and mozzarella made from buffalo milk from Buffalo Ridge to name but a few. For a list of some of the dishes (and a few recipes) please click here.

On our way back to the Cape Grace Hotel (where we started our journey with breakfast pastries) we were all satisfied and happy at having experienced ‘the cradle of the South African wine industry’ for ourselves thanks to showcook.com.

For more information on the wine estates mentioned please visit www.bosmanwines.com and www.bovlei.co.za and for further information on the Stonekitchen please email stonekitchen@dunstone.co.za.

This article was first published on WINE.CO.ZA, please click here to see the original article.

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