Newsletter from Pietman Retief - October 2013


We had a long and wet winter but I can now safely say that, with the south-easter, or the Cape Doctor as we know it, howling outside, that summer has finally arrived.

Lots of rain yes, days on end, but we welcome it as this summer is going to last till after Easter, and the water is necessary for a thirsty Western Cape and the Winelands. The dams are all more than 100% full.

I often speak to my guests, especially when they stay in Franschhoek, about the three major dams in that area and the importance of the mountains in the process of preserving water. And yet we don't utilize them for water sport! I will raise the possibility again with the authorities.

Summer will bring along lots of sunshine, a bit of wind to cool it down from 34-38 degrees celsius, and will end with a bumper harvest in our vineyards.

Summer will also bring along a number of cultural activities, especially the Oude Libertas series of events, mostly of a musical nature, which starts beginning December and will take us through to end of April. There are various venues offering performances and visitors who warn us early enough can be assisted to obtain tickets.

A quote from the newsletter of the Stellenbosch Wine Routes would interest many;

"Stellenbosch Wine Routes might be considered a golden oldie with its wine tourism legacy spanning over more than four decades, but we reaffirmed our standing as a world class wine destination as a 2013 nominee for Wine Enthusiast magazine's coveted Wine Star Awards-Wine region of the World" And this was in competition with the top and well known wine regions of the world. Final judgment would take place in January.

Combine that with the restaurants of Stellenbosch having won various awards recently, the Franschhoek Wine Valley tourism office which walked away with various national awards, and one would decide to rush of to the tour operator to do the booking as soon as possible. And of course, with the weak Rand at the moment, everything is so inexpensive here now for foreign travelers.

This folks, is the world we live in. Come and see us...!!

Golf enthusiast David Deeble loved his visit to Ernie Els' estate while on honeymoon with Sophie in October. Photograph taken at Haute Cabriere with Eben Bruintjies [middle], the wine advisor. Senior Rotarians Peter Woods (left) and Barry Austin (right) with Pietman at a recent visit to the Solms Delta estate. They were on a private tour from Long Eaton, Derbyshire in the UK this October.

Guests we have entertained here over the last few months emphasized the enormous versatility of our area. Many would know that I don't work to a preplanned itinerary, preferring to improvise according to the interests of the visitors. This makes my life so much more enjoyable as I have to establish these as soon as possible.

Philip and Carol Rose joined me on a trip of the Peninsula which included Kirstenbosch at its glorious best, Newlands Cricket Ground and various others, and a week later I picked them up for a trip in the Winelands where their interests took us to places even I haven't visited for a long time. The Clivia garden at Babylonstoren was a surprise even to me.

The young honeymoon couple Sophie and David Deeble became good friends of mine-they loved everything they saw which made my life so easy. Golfer David was excited by Ernie Els' winery on a day so clear that you could see the cracks in Table Mountain even from that distance. A drive through a township gave them some idea of the problems that we are working on.

Chris and Fiona Gerard were dedicated wine tasters having six restaurants in and around London.

Tim and JoAnn Ryan from Washington DC, who came to us through the website, loved the visit to Solms/Delta as he has a degree in Anthropology, and was fascinated by Sanna's version of her life and experience as a farm worker on the estate.

A nice surprise to me was the fact that both Chris and Clare Shales were Vets in the Midlands, and suddenly I had to improvise to bring our cultural- and wine activities closer to our treatment of our animals. Fortunately Middelvlei Wine Estate has a few wallabies with their other livestock on the farm and the process of explaining could start there.

US first time visitors Tim & JoAnn Ryan spent the day with Pietman and enjoyed the gardens and art collections in the area.

Stephen Rayson has often been to South Africa and knew dirt tracks that even I did not know about or haven't been to. Pretty gutsy, but he took Caroline along the dirt road, and not the established highway, to Bushmanskloof at the time when the wild flowers of Namaqualand were at their glorious best.

Faye Simpson is in the final stages of her PhD on Downs Syndrome, and husband Tom is a teacher in chemistry, and as such the campus of the University of Stellenbosch was of special interest.

This all goes to show we live in a fascinating and varied part of the world, and it is my pleasure to show off this world to visitors from elsewhere.

Walk the mountains and enjoy our nature up close

For those lovers of nature who are fitter than most of us there are some walks in the Winelands area which offer superb scenery and views. Available as one day, 4 day and even 7 day these provide a unique and close experience of our mountains, flora and fauna. Guests are well looked after and luggage is transported between hotels. Further details and route instructions can be seen on www.walkingholidays.co.za. Pietman does not accompany these events but is available should guests wish to further their cultural experience of the area.

ALL OUR VIP TOURS ARE PERSONALLY DESIGNED

Pietman and his colleagues take great pleasure in designing the VIP tours that will appeal to clients' interests. For example, some of the estates have fabulous gardens, Tokara and Grand Provence have impressive art and sculpture collections and L'Ormarins has a superb vintage car museum. And of course, Pietman especially having lived in the area all his life and being a Stellenbosch councillor is well versed in the history, culture and politics of South Africa as well as the region. So please let us have information of individual preferences when booking your tour as well as names, approximate age groupings and whether this is a first time visit to South Africa.

Information and bookings are available from Susan on alexmark@mweb.co.za or + 27 (0)21 761 7687.

"Thank you for two fascinating and memorable tours. We learnt much about the evolution of South Africa and were blown away by the magnificent scenery. Our expectations for our first trip to South Africa were high but were far exceeded and your involvement was an essential factor."

~ Philip and Carole Rose who enjoyed both the Captivating Cape Town tour and the Wonderful Winelands in September this year.