10 Tips to survive entrepreneurship


It has been exactly one year since I’ve started my company, Afro-Icon Media and in some ways I’m much further than I thought I’d be, yet in other ways, I’m not nearly as far as I’d hoped I’d be. I’ve made many mistakes and failed numerous times. My concern, however, is not for the countless times I’ve failed, but for getting up, re-grouping and re-strategizing, and dusting myself off every time I fall. And while I’ve made several mistakes doesn’t mean that you have to. So I thought I’d write a little post about the top 10 things I’ve learned during my first year of entrepreneurship.

If you’re thinking of taking the leap next year (or the foreseeable further) perhaps this post will offer you some guidance and save you from the many mistakes I’ve made. So here goes…

1) Be innovative

There’s a reason that I’ve placed this one first. To me, the number one attribute of an entrepreneur is innovation. Innovation is which distinguishes an employer from an employee. If you are an entrepreneur, you’re designed to look for solutions. If you cannot think of new ways to do old things, then you should rather hold off with those business ideas. It is vital for you as business owner, for your business and for your employees that you continue to explore new avenues. This is surely the number one reason I absolutely love being an entrepreneur. I love being creative, to think out of the box and to try new things. Not saying all the things I try will work, on the contrary! I think 90% for the things I’ll try won’t work, but to quote Thomas Edison, the inventor if the light bulb; “I have not failed. I’ve found ten thousand ways that won’t work.”

2) What’s your goal?

Before I started my company, I noticed a genuine need for my services in our small area. When I decided to quit my day-job, it was primarily because I felt that I could really make a contribution towards those in need of the services I have to offer. I’m extremely passionate about what I do and if I can help someone improve their communication in any way, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Without expecting any form of compensation. Of course being compensated for my services is fantastic but that’s an added privilege. The biggest gift you can give to the world is to share your skill, your passion and essentially fulfilling your greater purpose in the process. When you pour your heart and soul into something, it shows. Trust me on this. When you have a vision, when you work with that kind of passion, you are in the process of creating a nuclear bomb that is literally unstoppable. I believe my purpose is bigger than my mind can ever conceive. Let you goal be bigger than receiving a monthly pay check. To me, my work is invaluable anyways. In other words, I don’t think someone can pay me (in rands and cents) what my work is worth, so no matter how much or how little I earn for my services, it is irrelevant in relation to the ‘bigger’ contribution that I’m making. That is what I truly believe. Let your goal be ‘bigger’ than simply filling the financial gaps. Live to serve a greater cause. It’s only once you’ve realised that, that you can fulfil your greater purpose in life.

3) Show and tell

Before I started my own business, a business owner and acquaintance advised me to never work for free. He said that I can even charge a very minimum fee, but to never work for free. That was the worst advice I’ve ever received. I’ve sent out a dozen quotations and a hundred dozen emails to potential customers and never heard from them again. I’ve realised it’s one thing to tell people that I’m capable and able to do the job, but it’s quite another to actually show them. So I created my little blog and contacted just about all the businesses in my little area to asked to do a review of their business for them. And who wouldn’t want some positive, free publicity for their brand? This resulted in two things; previously when I called or emailed, wanting to make an appointment with the owner to introduced myself and my business, I got the ‘usual’ “we already have someone doing that, but we’ll contact you should we need your services,” answer. So I knew I had to find a way to get the owners to sit down with me. However, once I started calling them to do a review of their business, my phone rang non-stop. The other advantage it offered was that interviewees could experience my expertise first-hand and the overall reaction has been fantastic. Again, re-group, re-strategize and repeat. Persistence is key, don’t take no for an answer. Sooner or later someone will ‘see’ you, and that’s a guarantee. If you’re starting from the bottom, you have to work for free.

4) Feel good, do good

There’s a psychological link between your mind and your body that affects your productivity.  I believe this full-heartedly. I’ll even go as far as saying that if you want to be successful, then you have to be of sound body and sound mind. What I mean with that is that if your body functions optimally, i.e. it is healthy and you exercise regularly, then your mind will inevitably follow suit. When you feel great and you feel healthy, then you won’t have that sluggish feeling of dismay when things don’t go your way. And even if things go askew, you know it’s only temporary and tomorrow you’ll get right back on that horse again. So look after your health, it is one of the biggest contributors toward your success. Successful people are healthy people.

5) Resources vs Resourcefulness

Okay, so let’s face it; most of us (including me) do not have the latest tech gadgets. For example, I don’t have an iPhone. I don’t have an Apple Mac (even though I need it) and I’m not even on Instagram because I don’t have an android or iPhone, or a tablet of some kind. I know… shocking, right? But here’s the thing; there’s a massive difference between resources versus resourcefulness. I don’t allow for my lack of resources to hold me back precisely because I am resourceful. We often claim we’re not able to do certain things because we don’t have the time, the money, the iPhone, etc. But that shouldn’t prevent us from still going out there and doing great stuff! My time will come. I am patient, very patient and so I don’t worry about things outside of my control today, because tomorrow I may have learned a helluva lot more than you because I was forced to take the longer route instead of the shortcut. I believe that being more resourceful today will undoubtedly make me a better leader tomorrow. But seriously though… I do need a Macbook Pro. Just throwing it out there, use it, don’t use it…

6) Everyday I’m hustling

Note: For us non-Americans not familiar with the slang word ‘hustler’, here’s the long and short of it; essentially it refers to a person who does whatever it takes to make a buck. It can also be used as a verb, “hustle/hustling“, meaning to construct a way towards earning a buck to two. However, it received a derogatory connotation when it was used to describe drug dealers and gangsters. But it isn’t necessary a ‘bad’ word (in my humble opinion). My American followers can correct me, if I’m mistaken…

Nevertheless, to come back to my point; You can have the greatest plans in the world. You can even have a greater idea than Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs, but if you don’t get up from your behind and go out and start to offer your skills to the world, your dream will remain just another dream. It’s been said that the richest place in the world is the graveyard because that’s where most dreams die with its dreamers. Dreamers who never had the courage to get out of their comfort zone and to start hustling. I did that for a short while during this year. I sat on my behind. I procrastinated. I thought ‘they’ would think that I’m silly. I thought they’d think I wasn’t smart, skilled, experienced, (fill in the blank..) enough. I was nervous as hell. But then it occurred to me; am I really going to give up my lifelong dream in favour of what ‘they’ thought? Who are ‘they’ anyway? And why do ‘they’ have such influence over my life? Funny thing is; they only have as much influence as I give them. The ones who believe in me and my dreams are the only ones that really count. I am enough. I am able. And so I went for it. And, like I say to most people I approach, the absolute worst thing you can do to me is to say no. And since I’ve had plenty of no’s, it doesn’t scare me no longer. So go out and start hustling. Everyday.

7) Invest in yourself

You are the best asset your company will ever have. The success of your company will largely depend on how you manage it. So it is absolutely crucial that you educate and inform yourself on matters relating to your industry, as well as how to run a company effectively. Or hire people who are experts in their respective fields (like me!). I always say that in the age of technology, ignorance is a choice. There is nothing (and I really mean nothing) that you cannot do. You can search the internet on how to do a kidney transplant, or how to build a car engine, or even how to go without sleep for three days. Omgoodness! How freaking amazing is that?! The possibilities are endless. For anyone to tell me they can’t do something is just beyond me. You can literally do, just about, anything. And I mean ANYTHING. So don’t tell me you can’t. Because if you can google it, you can do it. Period.

8) Don’t sweat the small stuff

I’m a perfectionist which, let me tell you, is an exhausting business. And since my business is a reflection of me, I needed for everything to be perfect before I could really go out there and market myself as the professional I wanted to come across as. For starters, it was crucial to have all my little ducks in a row before I could approach a potential client. I had to have my business cards and letterhead designed, printed and ready to go. I had to design and publish my website and I had to have my blog up and running with quite a few posts. But, looking back now, all of these little ‘trinkets’ were time-thieves. I wasted so much time on getting everything picture perfect in order to come across as profesh and proficient, that only now I realise how I could have used my time more effectively in truly building on my business. I regret that. My business could have been much further had I used my time better. I could’ve done so much more than calling my printers and taking the perfect picture for my website. It was an incredible waste of my valuable time. Be careful on how you spend your time. Be vigilant on were your daily hours go. Reflect daily to see how you can improve and become more effective. Don’t allow for small things to occupy your valuable time. Spend it wisely.

9) Twitter vs Facebook

This one is a little off-beat but I thought it’s an absolutely must-share since I really wished someone would have told me when I started out, and so I’ve decided to include it here. Starting a Facebook page was one of the first things I did when I started my business. I thought people would go crazy for my content, they’d love my posts and they’d share it with their fellow Facebook friends. As it turns out, to my utter disbelief; Facebook was not the greatest platform to share my content. My posts hardly got a “like”, nevermind a “share” (they still don’t) and I seldom get click-throughs from my Facebook page back to my blog. Initially, I wasn’t planning to post my content onto twitter because my twitter account is a personal account and I was hoping to keep my business and personal stuff separate. But after the dismal reception from Facebook, one day I just thought what the hell, and posted something onto twitter. And omgoodness! I was completely blown away by the response. I received so many hits from my twitter account. In fact, it was more than the combined hits I’ve ever received via my Facebook page. I wish someone had told me that Twitter is a better content sharing site than Facebook. After that, I immediately added a Twitter widget to my blog and I’ve received many followers that way. It’s really awesome. Try to tweet daily. Social media, and Twitter in particular, is the poorman’s marketing. You can reach an audience that you could only have dreamt off, a few years ago.

10) Make peace to live in fear

I work long hours. And when I’m not working, I’m researching or doing something related to getting myself and my business to the next level. For instance, right now it is Saturday evening at 11pm and I’m typing this post to go onto my blog pretty soon. When you start your own business, you need to make peace with the fact that you will never feel like you’re doing enough. There’s always something that you feel like you’re missing or that you should be doing. You should make peace with the fact that you will constantly live in fear that you’re not doing enough. It will never subside. Well, mine hasn’t yet. I still feel like there’s a million things I need to do. I feel like that everyday. I doubt I’ll ever get completely comfortable to the point where I don’t think I need to do more. Make lists. Do as much as you can with the time you have. If nothing else, at least it’ll help you sleep a little better at night.

I’ve been really fortunate to have been granted this wonderful opportunity in my life and I am so very grateful for it. Having to wake up every morning and working on something that you absolutely love has been the greatest gift. And everytime someone clicks on anything I post, I honestly get happy and excited. If you’re reading this now, thank you for your support. It has really been the greatest source of my inspiration this past year. I look forward to growing and learning more over the coming years.

Till next time, hugs and high5’s!



Thank you!


I have many things planned for 2015 and I am super-duper excited to start rolling them out. OMGoodness… I can barely contain myself! Besides for all the usual awesome stuff, I also have THREE MAJOR projects, of which my e-newsletter was one (but I couldn’t help myself, and send it out early). I’ll keep the other two under wraps for now since I’d like to take some time to wrap my mind around it before I go crazy.

But before I undertake my many ventures, I’d like to take a moment to thank all those who have made it possible for me. I’ve been so blessed to have been accepted into our small wine community, as a businesswoman. Everyone has been so welcoming and I am eternally grateful to all those who have opened their doors (and hearts) to me. For those who had to apply some patience in listening to me blah, blah-ing, non-stop. Thank you! Your hospitality and kindness have been truly overwhelming.

I look forward to many future business ventures with all of you.

Till next time, hugs and high5’s.


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


I’m officially on holiday, yay! Phew! What a year it has been!

For those of you who I may not see again until 2015, please accept my sincerest wishes for a blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year. For those who will be travelling over the festive season, please do so safely and vigilantly. May you get to spend this special time with your family and loved ones. May God bless you abundantly over this festive time.

From me and entire Aim Team, I’d like to wish you a wonderful festive season. I’m looking forward to the successes that lay ahead in 2015 but I’m also bracing myself for all the obstacles that’ll undoubtedly come my way.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Here’s to an exciting 2015!
Till next time, hugs and high5’s!

Tasting and pairing at Zandvliet

There’s a sort of ‘gentleness’ that accompanies the landscaping views when I took the turnoff into Zandvliet Wine Estate’s driveway on Tuesday morning. A gentle energy is overwhelming as nature unveils itself in its most scenic form. The gravel pathway towards the tasting room felt magical and I knew something wonderful was about to happen.

I was an impatient visitor, I wanted to gobble up all that is esteemed estate had to offer in one big gulp. But I had to mentally curb my enthusiasm, forcing myself to apply some patience. The true beauty of life presents itself mostly in nature and can only be seen with the eyes and felt with the heart. I wanted to make sure that I fully experience all the emotions that accompanied my trip to this special place. And my patience was deeply rewarded.


The scenic entrance towards Zandvliet Wine Estate.

The Zandvliet Wine Estate is as known for its famous racehorse, Pocket Power, as it is for producing possibly the best Shiraz in the country. And it was the latter that had me knocking on this fourth generation estate’s door on Tuesday morning. Owned by brothers Paul and Dan de Wet, Zandvliet has largely moved away from its horse breeding practises to concentrate more on its winemaking. There are, however, still many horses roaming around the estate.

Before I continued onto the tasting room, I parked my car at the designated parking spot and paused for a moment to truly indulge in the beauty of this magical place, I didn’t want to miss a thing. I was in awe, and like a child, I wanted to drop my little notepad and bag and just make a run for it with my arms spread out wide between the tall, established trees and green manicured grass. This is what the nature-lover’s dreams are made off.


I drove past the nearby old train station, called Sandvliet.

The tasting room, a double story, wooden floor, old converted building tells the story of rich English and Dutch influences. The old stables on the farm are an indication that horses live here and it adds character to an already scenic haven.

I received possibly the most inviting welcome when Brand Ambassador, Werner Els and Tasting Room Executive Adriana Goliath came out onto the front porch to greet me. It was wonderful. I felt special. I was guided towards the back door which opened up onto a small piece of heaven. A special table setting with four selected wines had been set up especially for this tasting. The largest Plane tree provided more than enough shade, overlooking a charming, little farm dam.


The breathtaking outside wine-tasting setup was fit for a queen.

“I only have two rules when people enter my tasting room and that is that they should have a great time,” Adriana tells me excitedly. “I don’t want to complicate their tasting, I just want them to relax and have a good time. And secondly, I want to do the best job possible to make them feel at ease.”

Adriana and I hit it off immediately. She was friendly and helpful and had a real passion for the wine, and I loved that. She tells me that she loves this small tasting room as it adds character to the tasting experience but it also allows for her to give that personal interaction when engaging with her visitors. “It’s very intimate,” she says.


Tasting Room Executive Adriana Goliath and I enjoying a lovely glass of Zandvliet wine surrounded by stunning views.

She comes from humble beginnings and grew up on a small farm not too far from Zandvliet, called Le Chasseur. However, she has since moved to the neighbouring town of Robertson. She loves to work with people and it’s evident in her demeanour. Adriana kicked off my tasting journey with the Zandvliet Shiraz Rosé from the My Best Friend range.

Zandvliet My Best Friend Shiraz Rosé

I’ve mentioned once or twice before that I’m not the greatest fan of Rosé wines, specifically the sweet Rosé. However, the Zandvliet Shiraz Rosé is a dry, and not a sweet wine and it was absolutely delightful. “I believe people do not only buy with their palates but also with their eyes, and this Rosé is such a lovely, inviting colour that you cannot help but just love it,” Adriana tells me, and I completely agree.

It was lovely and soft on the palate and appeals to the simple palate. This wine embodies all the characteristics of an enjoyable rosé and will have you fall in love from the very first sip. I enjoyed it because it presented a lovely solace from the hot summer’s day. It’s a real people’s pleaser.


The Manor House at Zandvliet Wines.

Zandvliet Hill of Enon Chardonnay

I love Chardonnay and often cannot grasp why there are so many ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) people out there. I was super excited to try their Chardonnay and it did not disappoint. Twelve-months wood matured in French oak barrels, this Chardonnay was a real treat to the palate. Soft yet elegant, this Chardonnay encapsulated the true essence of a good old-fashioned white wine.

Zandvliet My Best Friend Cape Red

Ninety percent Cabernet and ten percent Shiraz, this dark red wine was a lovely treat. Full-bodied but soft, the Cape Red will appeal to both the simple and complex palate. I loved it because it is elegant and contains aromas of red plums with a smooth finish.


One of the old stables on the farm.

Zandvliet Kalkveld Shiraz

I must admit, I was mostly excited to get my lips onto one of their famous Shiraz wines and finally I was granted the opportunity. Fourteen-months wood matured, in first-fill French oak barrels, this Shiraz is truly a showstopper. I revelled in the delight of this glorious red wine as it completely lived up to its hype. It is incredibly soft and balanced, yet robust and dominating on the palate. A mix of plum and chocolate flavours explode in your mouth from the very first sip, with a smooth, long finish. I truly enjoyed this elegant red wine.

Wine and Olive Pest Pairing


The yummiest wine and olive pesto pairing.  

If I thought I had a grand wine tasting experience, I had another thing coming. In fact, I had a wine and olive pesto tasting coming. Brand Ambassador, Werner Els spoiled me with some of the very best wines of this beautiful estate, paired with the yummiest green and black olive pesto’s produced at the Olijvenhof Olive Estate just outside of Bonnievale.

Werner’s pairing presentation was filled with energy and his passion was almost tangible. Having spent sixteen years in the wine industry, I was completely fascinated with the wine knowledge he contributed to the pairing. I am always open to new experiences and when he suggested the wine and olive pesto pairing, I was slightly sceptical. Wine pairings have increased over the past couple of years but I’ve never even heard of a wine and olive pairing. But since I absolutely adore olives, I was open to the experience.


Brand Ambassador Werner Els brought a new, exciting dimension to the wine and olive pesto pairing.

It was, however, not until the moment that I was seated, with the gorgeous array of bottles of wines and olive pesto jars in front of me, that I truly comprehended the intensity of the flavours I was about to explore. How will the wine compete with the dominant olive flavours? But I was delightfully surprised that Zandvliet’s collection of fine wines maintained its superiority amongst these flavourful treats.

“We really wanted to think outside of the box and so I came up with the idea of a wine and olive pairing,” says Werner. “It’s very unconventional and people are often sceptical about the combination but once they try it, they are usually blown away by the combination of aromas from both the wine and the olives.” I also found that the olives exposed the true personality of the wines.


The tasting room is a historical building with Edwardian and Dutch influences.

First we tasted the Zandvliet My Best Friend Sauvignon Blanc with the green olive pesto with parmesan, and it was an absolute winner.  Refreshingly new, I loved the limey and salty combination that lingered on my palate. The Sauv also added a tropical aroma while I tasted strong apricot flavours dominating. It was a true delight.

Next was Zandvliet’s legendary Shiraz and I was especially curious to know how this icon will keep up with the black olive pesto with parmesan, and it was pure joy. Classical and elegant, this pairing was possibly my favourite. I loved the almost earthy richness that the Shiraz provided. Werner tells me that Zandvliet’s Shiraz is made exactly the same way as it was back in 1976 , when the first Shiraz was produced on the farm.


Large Plane trees added to the spectacular views of Zandvliet Wine Estate.

The Cabernet Sauvignon paired with the chilli and garlic olive pesto was up next. Yet another lovely pairing, I loved this combination for the full flavours and the medium, warm characteristics that the chilli brought to the pairing. Werner says that chilli is a very challenging ingredient to pair with wine because of its dominating characteristics but I found the Cab Sauv complimented the chilli wonderfully and vice versa. I really enjoyed this one.

The last pairing was the one that completely blew me away. I simply couldn’t fathom the pairing of the Zandvliet My Best Friend Sweet Natural Muscat and the black olive with garlic and chilli pesto together. But I was I delightfully surprised! I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a fan of sweet and semi-sweet wines, but I’m always open to a new adventure and that is exactly what this pairing offered. The natural sweetness of the Muscat accommodated the chilli and garlic flavours of the pesto perfectly which made this pairing a winner.

I loved Werner’s enthusiasm about the wine and the future of the industry in South Africa. He’s very excited about the potential that the African market holds for the local industry. “There are still many cultures where wine is considered a status symbol and this is difficult to overcome. It impacts on the quality of the wine we produce,” says Werner.

And so my visit to the lovely Zandvliet, sadly, came to an end. It was a perfect day spent in great company, breathtaking views and, of course, delicious wine. I promised to visit soon again, and that’s a promise I intend to keep.

Please note that the wine and olive pesto pairings are priced at R20 per person per pairing and prior notice is needed to allow for the freshest ingredients. Visitors are also welcome to bring their own picnic basket and enjoy the beautiful landscape views Zandvliet has to offer.

Many thanks to Werner Els and Adriana Goliath for the wonderful experience I had at Zandvliet. Thanks for making me feel right at home, I truly had a fantastic time. If you’d like more info about the various wines Zandvliet has to offer, please visit their website here. 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!


ATT: All Facebook Business Pages (Video)

Howdy guys,

If you administer a Facebook page, then today’s DIY Monday is for you. Facebook is making major changes to its newsfeed algorithm come January 2015 and ALL pages will be effected so best prepare for it now.

From January 2015, Facebook will reduce the organic reach of all business pages substantially, essentially ‘forcing’ them to pay for advertising. As a principle, I’m against paid advertising on social media as I believe it should be free. If you rely largely on Facebook to communicate with your target audience and you do not have a marketing budget, I’d suggest you either immediately start planning for additional expenses or find other avenues to reach your target audience. You can read more about Facebook’s craziness here.

In today’s DIY Monday, I’ll show you a small little trick you can do to ensure that your subscribers/followers still receive updates from your page (even if Facebook will try to hide it). So go ahead and watch the video…

Thanks for stopping by guys. Have a good one.

Hugs and high5’s!


screencast (5) from Meriza on Vimeo.

De Wetshof: The House of Chardonnay

The picturesque entrance towards De Wetshof Wine Estate’s tasting room tugs at my heartstrings and it’s official: I have fallen in love. The journey towards the tasting room represents old world charm with a hint of modern chic. A misty, foggy morning added to the mystery of this beautiful place and I couldn’t take my eyes off this scenic journey. Completely overwhelmed by the serenity and minimalist views, I continued down the gravel road on to what turned out to be one of my greatest tasting adventures.

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The fairy-tale entrance to De Wetshof Wines.

Tall, muscular Jacaranda trees with lavender-coloured flowers give way to the most spectacular white double-story building, the tasting room of this esteemed estate. Manicured gardens and a sparkling water fountain adds to the well-groomed appearance. The building, a replica of the Koopmans/De Wet House in Strand Street, Cape Town, was designed by French-born South African architect, Louis-Michel Thibault. Thibault was known for his neo-classicism architecture and this large white building with it’s big, square windows fitted perfectly into the ambiance of this charming place.

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Views to spoil even the fussiest landscape snob.

De Wetshof Wines, or the House of Chardonnay as it is known in local circles, is a third generation family farm dating back to the 1970s. However, winemaking as a profession has been practiced by the De Wet family since 1694 when the first De Wets arrived at the Cape. The first Chardonnay in South Africa was produced on this very farm with some of the oldest Chardonnay vineyards still present here.

The stairs that flow into the centre of the tasting room give it an almost royal feel, and I swear it is with this very majestic air that Johann de Wet, co-owner and son of De Wetshof walked down to meet with me. It is also with this poise and confidence that he shares his wealth of winemaking knowledge with me.

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The royal-like staircase that flows into the tasting room (left) and the majestic antique door entrance.

Johann, eldest son of the legendary Chardonnay pioneer, Danie de Wet, oversees the estate’s marketing operations, while brother, Peter manages the winemaking process. Danie de Wet, the founding father of South African Chardonnay, took to the noble white varieties when he studied winemaking at the famous German Wine Institute in Geisenheim, Germany. As a result, Chardonnay wine has become synonymous with the De Wetshof brand.

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The De Wetshof building was designed by French-born South African architect, Louis-Michel Thibault.

“While most farms have opted for the lifestyle feel with their wine-tasting areas, we wanted to give visitors a slightly different experience when they visited De Wetshof,” says Johann. “The tourists who come to our door are people who want to know more about the winemaking process and so we choose to inform and educate them. Our entire tasting experience is thus also a learning session. We tell them about our wine varieties, and about our soils, and of course about our wines. And we do this in a comfortable environment that allows for the tasters to relax while they are learning.”

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De Wetshof co-owner and son, Johann de Wet.

“We don’t follow trends,” says Johann. “We’ve been making wine for a very long time and that’s why we don’t hunt the latest winemaking trends to stay fashionable. Trends come and go. We like to stick to the traditional way of winemaking, particularly focusing on the Chardonnay variety, which is our area of specialisation. We’ve found in the past that many other cellars have tried to copy our Chardonnay recipe but failed. That’s a sign that we are doing something right,” says Johann with a slight grin.

De Wetshof currently produces seven different types of Chardonnays, all from the various types of soil on the Estate. “Each Chardonnay we produce is site specific,” explains Johann. “That means that the grapes from each Chardonnay come from a specific vineyard. Each vineyard on the Estate has a different soil composition which adds to the unique expression in each of the wines.”

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Johann with his innocent-looking Weimaraner, Wotan. Don’t be fooled by those puppy-eyes, he’s quite the active one.

“The latest technology has mechanised the winemaking process so much that it’s easier to make wines today than it was a decade ago,” says Johann. “The Langeberg area’s moderate climate also ensures that we are able to produce a good harvest almost every year which ultimately leads to a better quality end product.”

Johann is very excited for the future of the wine industry both locally and abroad. “Wine drinking has moved away from the exclusivity that it previously enjoyed. We’ve entered into a period where wine is now enjoyed almost daily with just about any meal. People used to save it for special occasions but times have changed. This is great news for wine producers and we believe the wine industry will continue flourish.”

Johann pulled out all the stops to present their best selection of premium Chardonnay wines and I was an all-too-willing participant.

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De Wetshof’s Bateleur, The Site and the Finesse Chardonnays.

De Wetshof Bon Vallon Chardonnay

The Bon Vallon 2008 was a lovely start to my tasting experience. Soft and gentle on the palate, this white wine has a hint of sweet and presented a very comfortable drink. I especially enjoyed it because of the limey and citrus flavours that exploded in my mouth from the very first sip. It is a lovely comfortable wine to enjoy on just about any occasion.

De Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay

The Limestone Hill Chardonnay was the wine that completely exceeded their expectations when they first produced it in the late 90’s, says Johann. “Of course, as a wine producer you hope that the general public will like the wines you make, but we didn’t think that this wine would be so well received. It has since become one of our best-selling wines and we couldn’t be happier.”

Un-wooded and soft on the palate, this Chardonnay proved why it is such a favourite amongst locals and foreigners alike. I was delightfully surprised by the rich complexity that embodies this Chardonnay. It was a real treat.

De Wetshof Finesse Chardonnay

Ten months wood-matured in second and third-fill barrels, I found the Finesse Chardonnay softer on the nose yet more robust on the palate. A hint of zesty, citrus fruit with a long nutty finish, this white wine added another dimension to the tasting experience. I loved that it was full-bodied but yet gentle enough to appeal to both the simple and complex palate.

De Wetshof ‘The Site’ Chardonnay

Named after the site were this vineyard is planted which overlooks the most beautiful views against the mountain tops, ‘The Site’ Chardonnay was possibly my absolute favourite of the entire selection. I loved the complexities that accompanied this wonderful Chardonnay. Twelve-months wood matured in first fill barrels, this wine was exclusive and you can taste it with every sip. Elegant and sophisticated, this lovely Chardonnay had me head over hills. I also loved the hint of lime that plays softly on your palate.

De Wetshof Bateleur Chardonnay

Their most premium Chardonnay, the Bateleur derived its name from the Bateleur eagle, and like its namesake, this white wine literally glides onto your palate. The wine embodies all the characteristics of the hunting bird; it is elegant, sophisticated but complex, aggressive and robust. Twelve-months wood matured this Chardonnay is a true delicacy and should be shared between kings and queens. It is a special occasion wine to be appreciated leisurely.

I’d like to thank Johann de Wet for taking time out of his busy schedule to sit down with me. Thanks also to Marketing Manager Bennie Stipp who assisted in setting up the interview. I had such an amazing experience at De Wetshof Wine Estate. If you’d like more info on their wide selection of wines, please visit their website. Please also follow 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!


DIY: How to create a KILLER presentation (video)

Howdy guys,

I was recently asked to do a presentation about my services to a potential client and I was slightly freaked out! I wanted to come across as professional but I didn’t want the ‘normal’ boring PowerPoint presentation. I wanted something fresh and hip and so I started trolling the web for something a little more creative. And that’s how I discovered on Stupeflix.com.

I loved this site because it offers so much freedom for the non-paying user. Usually with these kinda sites, you are very restricted with the capabilities for non-paying subscribers that it really isn’t even worth it at the end of the day. But surprisingly, I grew very fond of Stupeflix and I use it quite often now.

Another great advantage is that you don’t need a degree in rocket science to be able to create a video presentation on Stupeflix. This is always a major added bonus as I’m not the most technically-advanced person. It’s quick and easy and you can create a super professional presentation in minutes.

Give it a try and let me know how you guys find it.

Till next time, hugs and high5’s!



How to create a KILLER presentation… from Meriza on Vimeo.

Excelsior’s excellence in a bottle

Excelsior, a Latin adjective meaning “higher” or “loftier“, used in English as an interjection with a poetic meaning to indicate ‘superior quality’, is the perfect depiction of this wine estate just outside of Ashton, in the Langeberg region. This fifth generation, family-owned farm presents all the bells and whistles for the perfect country hideaway, offering impeccable service and jaw-dropping views.

Nostalgia settled inside of me while driving down the gravel road towards Excelsior Wine Estate’s tasting room. Breathtaking views of green vineyards and white roses demanded attention and for a moment I stopped to fully embrace my surroundings. Completely in awe of this natural beauty, my eyes simply had to steal another glimpse before I continued on my journey.


The breathtaking entrance to Excelsior Wine Estate’s tasting room.


The quaint little restaurant on the farm, Graze@Excelsior offers a selection of delish meals.


Excelsior Wine Estate, initially an ostrich, horse and subsequently, a wine farm, offers all the amenities for the tired traveller under one roof, so to speak. Besides for the tasting room which offers a wide selection of the farm’s premium wines to taste and purchase, the weary urbanite can also revel in the delish cuisine of Graze@Excelsior, the on-farm restaurant, before settling in for the night at their exquisite, four-star accommodation, the Manor Guesthouse.

But Excelsior Wine Estate provides more than just a resting place for your fatigued feet; it also offers quietude for your soul. Sentiments, nuances, thoughts, perceptions… In the mist of all that natural beauty, time seems to stand still and life offers you a breather. Amongst the overwhelming visual attractiveness of this beautiful place, while I was searching for my next tasting experience, instead I found a little piece of my soul.


Truly jaw-dropping views… Excelsior’s tasting room is situated on top of the dam, overlooking endless landscaping beauty.


The estate offers wonderful solitude for the fatigued traveller.

Dating back to the late 1800s, Excelsior Wine Estate turned its farming practices to ostrich plumes which where the essence of haute couture at the turn of the 20th century. Ostrich plums were purchased at ridiculous prices and as a result, ostrich breeders became wealthy almost overnight.  However, with the invention of the open-top motorcar, ostrich feathers were no longer practical and ostrich farmers suffered the consequences.

Kowie de Wet and his son, Oscar, Excelsior’s second and third generations respectively, quickly shifted their focus to breeding horses and cultivating vines on the farm. This quick thinking and good business sense saved Excelsior from bankruptcy. At the time, it was only a handful of farms that escaped insolvency. When current owners Freddie de Wet and his son, Peter took ownership of the farm, it was already a well-established wine farm producing several hectolitres of wine annually.


Tasting room assistant, Patricia van der Westhuizen and yours truly.

My tasting companion, Tasting Room Assistant, Patricia van der Westhuizen greeted me to their unique tasting space with a friendly smile. Overlooking the tranquil waters, the cool breeze from the dam flows effortlessly into this lovely room adding to the notion of exclusivity. Calming views from just about any angle inside of the tasting area make you want to sip a little longer, linger a little longer.

Upon arrival at Excelsior, Patricia was quick to offer me a glass of their famous Sauvignon Blanc while explaining the farm’s rich history. In-between the storytelling, she quickly added that the Sauv, their best-selling white wine, boasts numerous awards, including the recently-acclaimed Michelangelo Double Gold Award.


Views to die for…

She also tells me excitedly of the various social responsibility awareness programmes the De Wets have been involved with, including the establishment of a playschool on the farm for the farmworkers’ children between the ages of 18 months to five years of age. Excelsior also partly financed a computer room at the departmental preparatory school which is adjacent to the estate. Students are equipped with computer skills during afterschool tutoring.

A large consignment of their wines is exported to the USA, Tasting Room Manager, Tanya Swiegers tells me. That is one of the reasons they changed their logo two years ago. “The Americans were not too happy with our old logo and we had to change it,” she tells me. “We’ve still maintained the horse, our signature animal, on our logo, but we’ve changed it slightly to satisfy our American customers,” she adds.


Tasting Room Manager, Tanya Swiegers and I.

“While many cellars concentrate on producing easy-drinking, entry-level wines, Excelsior has maintained its superiority, producing quality, sophisticated wines for our selected audience,” says Tanya. “Our brand is associated with premium wines and that is what we’ll continue to produce.”

I was also offered a tour to their wine cellar and viewed first-hand the cleaning of one of its massive wine containers. It’s quite heart-rending having to see litres and litres of wine washed down the drain, literally. Bottle and Labelling Manager, Bruce Geduld explained the entire wine-making process to me, starting from the time the grapes enter the cellar. Excelsior’s state-of-the-art cellar produces around 12,500 hectolitres of wine every year, Bruce said.


Hundreds of litres of wine drained from the wine container. I had to resist the urge to get down on my knees and start licking some of that yumminess. Ha!

“We are a very family orientated farm,” says Bruce who has been with the estate for more than 20 years. “We look after the farm and the farm looks after us. The de Wets are really good people who invest in their farmworkers and that really lays the foundation for the relationship between employer and employee.”

When we returned to the tasting room, Patricia was ready to make my stay even sweeter when she presented their selection of award-wining white wines.


Patricia and Bottle and Labelling Manager, Bruce Geduld inside the wine cellar.


Some of the friendly ladies in the bottle storage department.

Excelsior Sauvignon Blanc

The Excelsior Sauvignon Blanc was a refreshing start to my tasting experience at this esteemed estate. Fruity and soft on the nose, yet robust and tasty on the palate, this lovely Sauv proved why it scooped up the 2014 Michelangelo Double Gold Award. A favourite amongst locals and foreigners alike, I loved that this wine embodied all the characteristics of a fruity white wine. Hints of figs, asparagus and green apple were prevailing in this lovely white wine. It’s a delicious treat on a hot summer’s day.


Excelsior Chardonnay

Three-month wood matured, the Excelsior Chardonnay is slightly drier than its Sauv counterpart. Full-bodied and full of flavour, the Chardonnay contains deep tones of citrusy and orangy flavours. This white wine will appeal to both the simple and complex palate.

Excelsior Viognier

I must admit, I was mostly excited to try their Viognier, a single French cultivar, most often used in red wine blends and I was delightfully surprised! Winemaker Johan Stemmet truly pulled out all the stops with this refreshing white wine. Full-bodied and robust, this wine is soft and fruity on the palate and offers a refreshing long finish.

Excelsior Caitlyn Rosé

Named after farmowner Peter de Wet’s youngest daughter, I found the Caitlyn Rosé much sweeter on the nose than on the palate. I’m not a fan of sweet rosés and so this dry rosé presented a lovely alternative. It still offers all the flavours of a fully, fruity wine yet it’s not sweet and uncomfortable on the palate. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, this rosé was a real delight to taste.

Excelsior Wine Estate also offers a wonderful wine blending experience. Visitors are able to blend their own bottle of red wine right there in the tasting room. They can blend, cork and label the bottle in a matter of minutes. This makes for a great gift over the holiday season.

I’d like to thank my tasting partners, Patricia van der Westhuizen and Tanya Swiegers for their hospitality and assistance during my visit to Excelsior. It was truly an honour to visit this beautiful place. If you’d like more info on Excelsior’s premium selection of wines, including their wine prices, please visit their website. Please also follow 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!


DIY: How to embed a tweet onto your website (video)

Howdy guys,

In yet another **AWESOME** screen recording video, I show you how to embed a tweet onto your website/blog. Embedding a tweet holds many advantages including that it allows people to favourite, reply or retweet straight from your website or blog, as oppose to clicking away from your blog and having to log into twitter. As bloggers, we’d like people to linger as long as possible on our blogs/websites for better statistics at the end of the day. This makes today’s DIY Monday a very handy tool to use.

Whether you use a blog like WordPress (like I do) or any other CMS (content management system) backend, the principle is pretty much the same. It should work on just about any CMS/backend. Happy tweeting and sharing everyone!

Till next time, hugs and high5’s.


Ps. Everyone, please meet Vimeo, my new video sharing site. What do you think? Yay or nay? I lovit!

How to embed a tweet onto your website… from Meriza on Vimeo.

Rietvallei resonates with my heart

I blame the Muscadel. And the nine-week old Alaskan malamute, Mona, the latest addition to the Rietvallei family. I was lured into this sixth generation farm with an inviting glass of the loveliest Muscadel and the cutest puppy eyes possibly south of the equator. Rietvallei, one of the most charming wine farms in the Langeberg region and producer of some of the best Muscadels in the area, and possibly the country, turned my intended wine-tasting appointment into a delightful visit in a relaxing environment. Even farm owner, Kobus Burger pulled up a chair.


One of Rietvallei Wines’ prestigious Muscadel wines.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but Rietvallei Wines resonated with my heart. It could be the rich history that is cemented into the walls of the cellar, or possibly the never-ending rows of the greenest vineyards some dating back to the early 1900s, or perhaps the selection of premium wines from this established estate. I’m not completely sure why, but I loved the serenity that accompanied my visit to this beautiful place.

Set in the heart of the Langeberg region in the Western Cape, Rievallei Wines is one of only a handful of South African estates to remain under one family for 150 years. Their wines tell the story of deep-rooted tradition and the legacy of the Burger family. Winemaking, as a result, flows through Kobus Burger’s veins, as it did through all of his predecessors.


Farm owner and cellarmaster, Kobus Burger with the cutest puppy ever, little Mona.

However, the art of winemaking remains a difficult task, admits Kobus who is also the cellar master for the estate. “The wine-making industry in South Africa, and the world in general has suffered a lot these past couple of years. Many reasons can be attributed to it, including the ignorance of wine drinking, the 2008 world recession, and non-inflationary increases of the price of wine which remained around 2-3% per year,” says Kobus.

“Every year we overproduce hundreds of thousands of litres of excess wine. South Africa’s per-capita consumption has been declining for years, now at around seven litres per person per year. If we could increase that to around 12 litres, we’ll completely eliminate the excess wine,” Kobus, who is also the Chairman of the Robertson Wine Valley, explained.


Visitors can opt to rather enjoy their tasting outside, overlooking the most gorgeous views.

“Although not necessarily cheap, South African wines are still some of the most affordable in the world,” says Kobus. “The cultivated wine drinker is few and far between and they are the only ones who will fork out R200 or more for a bottle, however, the average wine drinker refuses to pay that much for wine. People want more bang for their buck. They want the best wine at the cheapest price and we have really strong competition out there.”

New and upcoming wine drinkers still prefer easy-drinking, entry-level wines. They opt for cheap and cheerful which makes selling good quality wines even harder. “One of the best wines I’ve produced was a dry rosé, called the Juanita. Many people loved it but because it was pink, people assumed it was a sweet rosé. I had to discontinue the range because at the time people were still very uneducated about dry rosés.


Rietvallei Wines’ tasting room used to be a  reservoir on the farm.

Kobus took ownership of the main operations of the farm from his father, Johnny Burger in 2002. At the time they had only bottled three wines; a Chardonnay, a Cabernet and a Muscadel, Exports Manager Lezaan Stemmet tells me. In 2005, they converted an old reservoir into their tasting room, which is where you’ll be able to enjoy a glass of your favourite varietal today. However, in summer, tourists opt to rather sit outside under the cool shades of the massive trees and enjoy a leisurely visit while sipping on the wide selection of Rietvallei wines.

Rietvallei’s selection of wines has grown significantly since those initial three bottles, says Lezaan. Kobus has recently added two single vineyard wines under a new label, the JMB series, in honour of his late father, Johannes Marthinus Burger. The culmination, a Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay, boasts an elegant black and gold label adding a touch of sophistication to this selection.


The scenic entrance to Rietvallei Wines.

Rietvallei Wines was also recently selected to be the wine of choice for Kenya Airways, which offered them a one-year contract to supply wine to all of their flights. Kobus is excited for the new venture and says that Africa holds a lot of unexplored promise for the wine market. Their biggest exporting market currently includes the UK and the Netherlands, respectively.

Administrative assistant, Natasha Crous took me on a delicious journey of discovery between the wooded, award-winning wines.

Rietvallei Sauvignon Blanc

The Rietvallei Sauvignon Blanc 2014, recipient of the prestigious Terroir Wine Award, offered a welcoming start to my tasting experience. Refreshingly fruity, this Sauv presented the perfect solace for a hot summer’s day. It is citrusy and light on the nose yet explosive and overwhelming on the palate. A zesty, crisp taste adds full flavour to this delish Sauv. Although slightly dry, this Sauv will appeal to both the simple and the complex palate.


Recipient of the Terroir trophy, Rietvallei’s famous Sauvignon Blanc.

Rietvallei JMB Chardonnay

The JMB Chardonnay, one of the wines from their latest selection the JMB series, presented a delicious taste of citrus and orangey flavours. Soft and sophisticated, this Chardonnay takes you on an adventure from the very first sip. Gentle on the palate yet full-bodied and robust, this wine offers a long finish. It is a lovely summer treat for conscious wine drinker.


The JMB series boasts an elegant black and gold label.

Estéanna White

A combination of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chennin Blanc and Viognier, this white wine proved why it is their flagship wine. Beautiful aromas of fig and melon, this white appeals to a broad spectrum of wine lovers. It has all the elements of a complex white, yet it is soft enough for wine drinkers to enjoy leisurely. The Estéanna White was barrel fermented which adds a touch of elegance to this lovely wine. It is full-bodied yet easy on the palate. A refreshing aftertaste lingers on the palate long after you’ve enjoyed it. This one was my absolute favourite of all the varieties.


Named after Kobus’ two darling daughters Esté and Annie, the Estéanna range is Rietvallei’s premium wine.

I’d like to thank Natasha and Lezaan for the lovely tasting, I had a wonderful time at Rietvallei Wines. Thanks also to Kobus for fitting me into his very busy schedule. If you’d like more info on the wide selection of Rietvallei Wines, including their wine prices, please see their website. Please also follow 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!