Make every second count

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There is something magical about being awake early in the morning, before the rest of the world wakes up. It’s slightly past six and I’ve just returned from my early morning run. The fresh air still lingers in my lungs and I can still feel it against my skin. Ah! It feels good to be alive! I feel empowered and liberated. I’m on an endorphin-high and my emotions are in a happy place. It feels really, really good.

But it hasn’t always been like this. I’ve had a pretty tough year, trying to get my foot in the door with my business. I remember my graduation day a couple of years ago. I sat amongst hundreds of fellow graduates and I, like I’m sure everyone else, thought that it was possibly the toughest thing I’ll ever do in my entire life. I was completely overwhelmed because at one stage I didn’t think that I’d ever graduate. My studies were heart-wrenching; it completely drained every ounce of energy from the depths of my core. But in the end, I won.

Entrepreneurship is tertiary studies on steroids. All those long hours and hard work you put into your studies, times ten. The main difference between the two is that when you put in the long hours and hard work towards a test or exam, at least you know it’ll pay off. You know almost for sure, that you will pass that module. However, with entrepreneurship, it’s not a given. And that is the heart-wrenching part. That is the very reason so many people give up before they become successful.

Stubbornness is not always a ‘negative’ attribute. Sometimes your unwillingness to give in is a necessity to keep you going for a tad bit longer. I haven’t given up because I’m too damn stubborn. Nowadays, I take it one step at a time. I think daily; What can I do to be a better contributor to this world? What gifts / skills do I have to leave this world a better place than when I arrived? And the answer always comes down to the same thing; I can write. That’s all I can do.

I’m not sure how yet but I know for-sure that my writing will somehow, somewhere inspire someone else to take action. That my writing will open a door for someone. That my writing will be the last piece of the puzzle for someone who has been working on that genius idea for years. That my writing will change the course of someone’s life. I really, really hope it will.

But in order for my writing to do that, I have to continue writing. I have to believe that someone is in need of the words that come from my pen (keyboard). Armed with this mind-set, I get up every morning and I pursue my greatest mission; to change someone’s life through my words.

What is your gift and how will you use it towards the greater good? How will you leave your mark? How will people remember you? Our time on this earth is finite, but our vision need not be. Make every second count.

Till next time, hugs and high5’s.

xoxo

 

Esona – The Very (Magnificent) One

Tugged away between green vineyards and majestic mountains, Esona Wine Boutique, situated on the R317 between Robertson and Bonnievale, catches your eye and you cannot help but be intrigued by this small piece of paradise as you drive by. This idyllic location, in the heart of the Robertson Wine Valley, is where my wine-thirsty feet led me, on Tuesday morning.

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The breathtaking views from the tasting room at Esona Wine Boutique.

Esona, the brainchild of husband and wife duo, Rowan and Caryl Beattie, started in 2003 when they purchased this gorgeous piece of farmland as a sustainable sanctuary of uncompromising landscape luxury, away from the busy city life. Nestled between rural tranquillity and unspoiled natural beauty, Esona Wine Boutique offers a vibrate escape to the wary urbanite. The upstairs tasting area gives new meaning to the phrase, room with a view.

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The scenic entrance at Esona.

In 2004, Rowan and Caryl had a vision to turn the 17 hectors of farmland into lushes, wine-producing vineyards. But it would take another six years before it yielded its first crop. In 2010, Esona released its very first bottle of wine under its newly-found label. Esona, a Xhosa word meaning ‘The Very One’, (or, my Afrikaans readers will appreciate this; ‘Die Ware Jakob’), capitalised on its staggering scenery and innately friendly staff to lure visitors to its front porch, and it worked beautifully!

It was, however, the well thought-through creativity in almost every small detail that caught my attention; from the small handprint on the torn bottle label, to the cork-inspired table decoration, to the RIEDEL glasses… Oh… the RIEDEL glasses! Let me tell you about this elegant piece of glassware. But let me start off by saying that I have a ‘thing’ for glasses. However, the RIEDEL glass is not just another glass, it’s the king of glasses, shaped and designed specifically to enhance the flavours and aromas of every sip of wine. The RIEDEL glass is grape-specific, ensuring that the taste, balance and finish of the wine is affected by the shape of the glass from which it is drank.

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Tasting Room Assistant, Daneen Pienaar showing off their selection of RIEDEL glassware.

I was welcomed to Esona Wine Boutique on Tuesday morning by Tasting Room Assistant, Daneen Pienaar who has been a part of the Esona family for just over a year now, she tells me. The rustic interior entrance is interwoven in the subtle, yet provocative design features throughout the property. The 75-year-old Oregon Pine wood staircase adds to the antiquity of the interior décor. Esona produces around 2500 to 3000 bottles per cultivar, per year, making every bottle of Esona wine special and unique, Daneen tells me.

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The rustic entrance at Esona adds character to the location.

Grapes are handpicked and much effort is added to ensure that just the very best grapes are used to make the prefect bottle of wine, says Daneen. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are so much more that makes this wine boutique so special, she adds. She boasts with the range of wine awards received by the farm, including the prestigious Neil Pendock award which the farm obtained in 2011 when its Esona Chardonnay took second place in the blind-tasting competition. But visitors often struggle to decide between its Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, making both wines some of its top-sellers, says Daneen.

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A selection of the various types of soil is displayed.

“The Beatties have been actively involved in various social responsibility initiatives on the farm,” Tasting Room Manager, Michelle Kotze tells me. “Rowen believes in education and development of all workers, including the tasting room staff.” Farm workers are encouraged to grow their own produce of which they keep 100% of profits earned, while tasting room staff are regularly send on courses. “We also open up new opportunities to those wanting to get their foot into the hospitality and tourism industry,” Michelle added.

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Well thought-through creativity in almost every small detail.

La degustation (The Tasting)

Armed with some of the most stylish glasses possibly south of the Equator, Daneen presented me with some of the most delicious wines that the Robertson Wine Valley has to offer.

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I was also offered a glass of their ‘Frankly My Dear’ Blanc de Noir, which is produced from their Pinot Noir grapes.

Esona Sauvignon Blanc

First up was the 2014 Esona Sauvignon Blanc. Refreshingly light, this Sauv hit all the right spots on the palate, perfectly. I loved the fruity and citrusy aromas that accompanied this delicious Sauv. Aftertastes of greenpepper and fig linger on the palate, followed by a smooth finish. It was the perfect thirst-quencher and starter to my wine-tasting experience.

Esona Chardonnay

The 2013 Esona Chardonnay was another hit. How anyone can claim to be an ABC (Anything but Chardonnay) is really beyond me. I loved this Chardonnay! Ten-months wood-matured in third-fill barrels, the Esona Chardonnay offered aromas of vanilla and caramel mixed with an almost coconut aftertaste. Daneen wanted to give my taste buds a kick and also offered the 2012 Chardonnay, and what a treat it was! The 2012 presented a fuller, more complex yet incredibly smooth taste. The Chardonnay’s will appeal to both the complex and simple wine palate.

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Esona offers a selection of yummy delicacies for a quiet picnic.

Esona Shiraz

The 2012 Esona Shiraz is another crowd pleaser. I love red wines and was delightfully surprised by this lovely Shiraz. Eleven months wood-matured, the Esona Shiraz embodies tastes of black pepper while soft tannins make the tasting such a pleasant experience. It is full-bodied yet soft and elegant to enjoy for just about any occasion.

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Tasting Room Manager, Michelle Kotze and I against the backdrop of the beautiful lushes vineyard at Esona.

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Daneen and I took a quick photo-break during our tasting.

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Michelle and Tourism intern, Dailyn Kleintjies.

Esona Wine Boutique also offers a range of tastings, including a Taste of Africa and a Taste the Difference experiences, involving the various RIEDEL glasses. You can also book an underground cellar tour or enjoy a delicious picnic with fresh, locally-sourced produce from their in-house restaurant, Caryl’s Deli.

I’d like to thank Manager, Michelle Kotze and her lovely team, especially Daneen Pienaar, for their hospitality and making me feel right at home. I loved Esona and will, as promised, be back for the ‘Taste the Difference’ experience. If you’d like more information on the delish selection of Esona wines, please visit their website. Please also join them on Facebook and Twitter.

Did you like this review (of course you did!)? Then please subscribe to my blog (see top right hand side). Please also follow me on twitter and follow my blog on facebook. I’ll be posting a lot more reviews over the coming months.

Till next time, hugs and high5’s!

xoxo

No-Resolutions post

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Howdy all,

This is not a New Year’s Resolutions post because, for starters, we are already a few weeks into January. I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions simply because 95% of resolutions are long forgotten, come February. But I did think of a few things I’d like to work on in 2015 and I made a short list of it. Here goes…

  1. Eat more green food.
  2. Buy less, choose wisely.
  3. Travel more.
  4. Give more.
  5. Read more.
  6. Drink more water.
  7. Save more money.
  8. Believe that anything is possible.
  9. Hug the ones I love.
  10. ABC (Always Be Constructive)

Did any of my proposed ‘changes’ resonate with you? Is there something you’d like to work on in 2015? Tell me about it in my comments section.

Till next time, hugs and high5’s!

xoxo

Alls well at Weltevrede

I took a long, leisurely drive to Weltevrede Wine Estate on Tuesday morning. The harvesting season has officially kicked off and it is time to make some wine here in the Roberston Wine Valley. You can see it while driving down the road, you can smell the freshly picked grapes and you can almost taste the delicious, soon-to-be-produced wines on your palate. When I arrived at Weltevrede Wines, just outside of Bonnievale, I was overwhelmed with the serenity and calmness offered by this magnificent estate.

I was met and accompanied on an underground wine cellar tour by Public Relations Manager, Elzette Steyn who has been a part of the Weltevrede family for fifteen years, she tells me. Weltevrede, a fourth generation farm, has been in the Jonker family for 102 years and spans 160 hectares of farmland. Harvesting of its Pinot Noir grapes started on Monday, says Elzette.

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The scenic entrance towards Weltevrede Wine Estate.

It is such a pleasant time to be on the farm, witnessing the occasional tractor passing with buckets of freshly picked grapes. The grapes, however, are the very first harvest of the season and have a low balling reading, i.e. a low sugar content. You’d be ill-advised to taste some of the grapes as they tend to be quite sour.

The Weltevrede Estate is well-known for its selection of Methode Cap Classiques and Chardonnay wines. The 95 kilometre canal that runs adjacent to the estate is the lifeblood of the farm, ensuring that it is thoroughly irrigated throughout the drier seasons. But it’s Philip Jonker, son of Lourens Jonker, who’s vision distinguishes, and remains the spark of life, for this well-established Estate.

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Harvesting season has just started in the Robertson Wine Valley.

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160 hectors of beautiful views at Weltevrede.

His vision is what led Philip to acquire national acclaim in 2012 when he produced wine from the seven ancient vines from Robben Island, where former president Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. The dream started when Philip and his wife, Lindelize visited Robben Island seven years earlier and Philip noticed the vines in the prison garden. He arrived back at Weltevrede with a passion and a plan.

Many obstacles were encountered including early morning trips to Robben Island, hard labour, volatile weather conditions and ravenous seagulls that devoured two of the vines. But finally, in 2012, the patience and hard work paid off when the first crop was harvested, producing 228 kilograms of grapes. Philip was able to produce 20 bottles of sweet wine, Madiba’s favourite, from the grapes. Named, The Parable, the very first bottle was presented as a birthday gift to Madiba on his 94th birthday.

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The canal that runs adjacent to the Estate ensures it remains irrigated throughout the year.

It is Philip’s relationship with the soil that fuels his passion, says Elzette. “His love for wine and winemaking is visible in all the wines produced here on the estate. When you work with someone who has that kind of vision, you cannot help but also be inspired,” she adds. The Estate was also the first to produce a Vanilla Chardonnay, currently their top-selling wine, and the industry soon followed suit. “Philip always has something up his sleeve,” Elzette added with a smile.

The underground cellar tour led us along dark walls, lit only by candlelight, which provided just enough glimmer to see our way through cemented cisterns. Here, thousands of bottles of MCCs lay dormant for four years. Previously used as wine tanks to store the wines, the cisterns were rubbed with molten beeswax to seal each hole and crack and prevent the wine from coming into contact with the raw cement.

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Thousands of bottles of MCCs are awaiting perfection.

The Tasting

Elzette prepared seating for me and my fellow tour guests underground to sit and enjoy tales of the estate, as narrated by her.

Vanilla Chardonnay

The first wine Elzette presented was from the Simplicity Collection, the Vanilla Chardonnay. Refreshingly soft, this Chardonnay was a delightful treat to the palate and I could see why it’s one of their top selling wines. Tropical and citrusy flavours coupled with a soft hint of vanilla explode on the palate from the very first sip. It’s a delicious treat on a hot, summery day.

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The underground cellar tour offered a new wine tasting experience.

Place of Rocks Chardonnay

From their Terroir Estate Collection, the Place of Rocks Chardonnay was second in the tasting experience. A truly sublime wine, this Chardonnay crept slowly into my heart with every sip. I fell in love with the limey, citrusy flavours and that is because the vines are grown in limestone soil, explains Elzette. Wood-matured for six months in French oak barrels adds depth and ensures a fuller taste on the palate.

Cherrychoc Merlot

Elzette spiced up the tasting (literally) with the Cherrychoc Merlot, also from their Simplicity Collection. I’m a real sucker for red wines and this merlot had me from the very first sip. I loved the simplicity on the palate, yet it is full-bodied with a long finish. It’s an easy-drinkable wine with flavours of cherries and chocolate which linger on the palate.

Bedrock Black Syrah

Another wine from the Terrior Estate collection, the Bedrock Black Syrah was impressively good. Slightly drier yet more delicious, this Shiraz was made to be enjoyed leisurely. Full-bodied with dark berries and plum flavours, this wine was a luxurious treat to me and my fellow tour guests. This is a special-occasions wine that should be appreciated slowly.

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Weltevrede Wine Estate is well-known for it’s delish MCCs.

Oupa se Wyn

From the Heritage Wine Collection, Oupa se wyn (Grandpa’s wine), named after Oupa Klaas Jonker, the founder of Weltevrede, is a Red Muscadel made from vines planted on the farm in 1926. The muscadel, a fortified, sweet wine, serves as a delicious dessert wine to be enjoyed after an evening meal. It is deliciously soft on the palate it offers flavours of ripe cherries and raisins. It was the perfect end to a delightful tour.

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Elzette and I after a wonderful tasting.

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Tractors filled with freshly picked grapes were a beautiful sight.

I’d like to thank Elzette Steyn for her friendliness and hospitality. I had an amazing experience and a wonderful time touring and learning about Weltevrede and its selection of award-winning wines. If you’d like more info about the various wines Weltevrede has to offer, please visit their website. Please also join them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Did you like this review (of course you did!)? Then please subscribe to my blog (see top right hand side). Please also follow me on twitter and follow my blog on facebook. I’ll be posting a
lot more reviews over the coming months.

Till next time, hugs and high5’s!

xoxo

Happy 2015!

Howdy guys,

I rang in the New Year from the sandy beaches of one of the most gorgeous places in the world, Camps Bay beach, accompanied by some of the people I love most. We were treated to spectacular performances of fireworks against the backdrop of the beautiful Atlantic Seaboard.

I spent most of the December holidays basking in the African sun while frolicking in the waters of Seapoint beach in Cape Town. I visited many tourist sites and ate at some of the yummiest restaurants Cape Town had to offer. I love that my blog allows me to show off just how incredibly beautiful my country really is.

Now, if you’ll please excuse me… I’d like to take a moment to brag with the beauty of Cape Town…

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We were crazy enough to climb Table Mountain these past holidays (and I have the sunburned shoulders to prove it!). It took us 2.5 hours to do the uphill climb but once we reached the top we decided to take the cable car down. I managed to get quite a few aerial shots in the process. This one is a picture of Lion’s Head, the little mountain right next to Table Mountain, against the Atlantic Ocean backdrop.

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This is another aerial shot of Cape Town with the 2010 Fifa World Cup Greenpoint Stadium.

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Once we’ve reached the top of Table Mountain I went picture crazy. Isn’t it just breath-taking?

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We also visited Rhodes Memorial, a national landmark, which provides a magnificent view of Cape Town. The site is a memorial to English-born South African politician Cecil John Rhodes who owned vast areas of the lower slopes of Table Mountain, most of which he gave to the nation on his death in 1902.

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Another view of Lions Head.

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My #vacaybrag picture… On the beaches of Camps Bay.

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Another aerial pic I took while making my way up Table Mountain.

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The tidal pool at Seapoint beach.

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We also visited the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens which was an absolute treat for the eyes. So, so beautiful.

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One of the things I loved most about South Africa is our cuisine, especially the Malaysian influences including rich-flavoured curries. I love curry! We had curry quite a few times during our stay in Cape Town. This is one of the dishes we had at the Rhodes Memorial restaurant and it didn’t disappoint. #yum

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Heading down from the top of Table Mountain in the cable car. And yes, that is my hand on the handle bar, clinging on for dear life! It was nerve-wrecking as hell!

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Another gorgeous shot from the cable car.

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The ever-so-gorgeous Camps Bay! Wow… what a beauty!

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Ringing in the New Year on top of my throne… Let’s do this 2015!

I hope you enjoyed the pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them. What did you do during the holidays? Tell me in the comments section.

Till next time. Hugs and high5’s!

xoxo…