Fall in love with Van Loveren

The drive en route towards Van Loveren Wines must certainly be one of the most scenic journeys I’ve ever embarked on. Red cannas, Van Loveren’s exclusive signature flower, embrace you long before you actually reach the entrance of the farm. It comes thus as no surprise when I’m told that the Retief’s have expanded their realm significantly and now includes at least 10 farms owned by the country’s most famous ‘four cousins’.

The farm, which is as rich in history as it is in fertile soil, dates back to the late 1930s. A third generation farm, Van Loveren was initially part of a larger farm called Goudmyn (Goldmine) before oupa Hennie Retief acquired it in 1937. It was sub-divided and renamed ‘Goudmyn F’ which irked his wife, ouma Jean, who thought the “F” signified ‘Fools and Failures’. Subsequently she persuaded her husband to change the name to Van Loveren, the surname of Christina van Loveren, an ancestor of hers who was the first Dutch relative to arrive in South Africa in 1692. Christina van Loveren’s trousseau chest remains on the farm to this very day.

Untitled-4

The red cannas are a welcoming spectacle.

The first wine, a red muscadel, was produced in 1939 at Van Loveren but it wasn’t until the 1980s that the first bottle of wine, the Premium Grand Cru was launched. Prior to that, wine was not bottled and only sold in bulk. Nico and Wynand Retief, the two sons of oupa Hennie, took ownership of the farm before the four cousins, brothers Neil and Philip and brothers Hennie and Bussel took over the reigns from the 1990s and turned it into a commercial powerhouse.

A household name, Van Loveren’s Four Cousins range exploded onto the wine scene in 2000 with a collection of easy-drinking wines. “Our wines are mostly entry-level, yet premium quality wines and that’s why the South African consumer has taken so generously to it,” Van Loveren Marketing Manager Bonita Malherbe explains to me. “And because we produce bulk quantities of wine, we are able to remain very cost-effective and competitive. And that is one of the reasons Van Loveren is South Africa’s biggest selling bottled brand.”

IMG_0504

Christina van Loveren’s trousseau chest remains at Van Loveren’s tasting room.

Van Loveren has invested significantly into eco-conscious farming over the past couple of years, creating a completely P. E. T. (Polyethylene terephthalate) bottled range, the Tangled Tree collection. It has significantly reduced its carbon footprint in the process and hopes to improve on it in future. Besides for caring for the environment, Van Loveren also cares for its farmworkers, investing in a BEE scheme in which farmworkers acquired 52% of one of its farms. The Five Reserve range is produced by grapes from the BEE farm and a portion of the proceeds are invested back into the farmworkers.

IMG_0455

The Van Loveren Tangled Tree collection is P. E. T bottled.

Arriving at Van Loveren’s state-of-the-art tasting room outside of Ashton on the renowned R317 wine route towards Bonnievale, I was welcomed by tasting room assistant, Nadine Pietersen who seemed as excited to present the tasting as I was to do the actual tasting. The massive glass doors at the entrance give way to a backdrop of white interior which allows for natural sunlight to fill all corners of the room. The perception of light and space has been perfected with this design.

The tasting room’s design, which was inspired by a wine barrel, offers lavish furnishings for a leisurely tasting. The contemporary design against the natural setting of the mountains is any architect’s dream project. Eloquently designed to take advantage of the lush gardens, a piece of art on its own, the tasting room capitalises perfectly on its use of spacious interiors. Architects Kuger Theron did a sterling job with this breathtaking design while Chrislene Retief takes credit for the beautiful interior.

Untitled-1

Beautiful, spacious interiors offered the perfect hideaway.

Nadine, the tasting room assistant, led me to a quiet table before presenting some of their best wines which, I may add, completely swept me off my feet!

Christina van Loveren Sauvignon Blanc

First up, from their premium selection, was the Christina Van Loveren Sauvignon Blanc. Classic and full-bodied, this Sauv is any white wine lover’s dream. Handpicked to ensure only the very best grapes are used to make this lovely Sauv. A mix of tropical flavours and grass explodes on your palate from the very first sip. I loved it because it’s a comfortable wine yet it offers a little complexity which allows you to savour every sip.

IMG_0434

Some of Van Loveren’s selection of white wines.

Neil’s Pick Colombar

Named after Cousin Neil Retief the viticulturist, this Colombar was made to entertain the wine enthusiast. A refreshing taste of lime and guava, the Colombar is a real crowd pleaser. It’s an easy-drinking wine and appeals to the simple palate. Guaranteed to hook you from the very first sip.

Christina van Loveren Method Cap Classique

I must admit that I was mostly excited to taste their promised MCC and was delightfully surprised. Well balanced and smooth, this MCC was made for celebration. Eighty six percent Chardonnay and 14% Pinot Noir, this MCC was an absolute pleasure to my palate. A burst of bubbles erupts on your palate with limey and citrusy flavours to fill all corners of your month. It truly is a lovely treat for any occasion.

Christina van Loveren Cabernet Sauvignon

Nadine ended our lovely tasting by offering me a sip of their award-winning Christina van Loveren Cabernet Sauvignon. Fourteen-months wood matured, this Cab Sauv is an absolute treat to the palate. Full-bodied, it has all the characteristics of a dark red wine. Although slightly heavier on the palate, this wine will appeal to both the simple and complex red wine lover. I truly enjoyed this wine.

Van Loveren also offers a selection food and wine pairings including cheese and wine, chocolate and wine, and nougat and nuts and wine. For the nature lover, it also offers a range of activities including a 7.5 kilometre hiking trail, bird watching and mountain biking. Christina’s Bistro restaurant, also on the premises offers a delectable menu for the hungry traveller.

Untitled-2

I fell in love with the large variety of delish delicacies they stock in their tasting room.

Untitled-3

Choices included olive oil and a variety of yummy jams.

IMG_0447

A display of massive bottles of Van Loveren Wines was intriguing.

IMG_05061

My tasting ‘partner-in-crime’, Nadine and I.

I’d like to thank Nadine for the lovely tasting, I had a wonderful time at Van Loveren. Thanks also to Bonita for running me through the farm’s history, it was very insightful. If you’d like more info on the wide selection of Van Loveren 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!

xoxo

Off to the polls we go…

This year, South Africa celebrates 20 years of democracy, and today we will once again head to the polls in our fifth democratic elections. I’ve been contemplating a lot of what I will write for my voting day blog post. I wanted to make it significant enough to stress the importance of voting, yet not too detail-orientated so that my non-political readers will be bored.

Contrary to popular believe, I used to be an avid political commentator. Back in my journalism days I used to follow political parties, read their manifestos and listen to their party promises. However, as of late, I have taken little interest in the goings-on of the halls in Parliament, sadly.

Truth be told, I simply didn’t have the stomach to sit through yet another year of lies and empty promises. For the first time since democratic South Africa, I have completely withdrawn from all election news. I have not tweeted or retweeted any election-relating news, I have not facebooked any and I surely didn’t blog about it either. Electioneering, just like the poo-throwing in Cape Town, left a stinky residue and an uneasy feeling in my stomach. As far as developing countries go, South Africa is way up there with cheap electioneering tactics. It literally is sickening.

However, in line with my life goal to leave a legacy for my future children, and as is befitting of a good, democratic citizen, I have voted this morning. Many people have sacrificed their lives for my freedom and so I do not take my freedom for granted. So here goes South Africa, let freedom reign in the halls of your voting station. Make your mark. Leave a footprint.

Vote1

On my way to the voting hall…

Vote2

The voting hall in my small town.

Vote4

There are days that I don’t believe democracy is an effective form of governance… Today is not such a day. Voted the hell out of that ballot. Awesomest feeling ever! Been there, done that, got the selfie! #thatshowIroll #elections2014

If you haven’t voted yet, do it now!

Happy Freedom Day, my beloved country.

On 27 April 2014 we celebrated 20 years of freedom in South Africa and although I was home in my little town, I nevertheless made use of the opportunity (and the gorgeous, sunny day!) to go out and get some snaps in remembrance and gratitude of those who came before me. May we never take our freedom for granted.

Alrighty, now onto the fun stuff…

I didn’t have to travel far to get the following great snaps at a little wine boutique and restaurant in Ashton called Platform 62. Its gorgeous and offers an array of delish foods, dried fruits, wines and a variety of homemade jams and rusks from all over the area.

Freedom day3

The view from outside Platform 62.

Freedom day14

Another outside snap. How beautiful are the Langeberg mountains at the back? #lovit!

Freedom day13

Another angle with more of the mountains.

Freedom day2

Another outside pic. I simply couldn’t get enough of this gorgeous day.

Freedom day4

The cars were lining up very quickly.

Freedom day5

Local is lekka at Platform 62…

Freedom day6

A variety of homemade goodies to offer. #yum

Freedom day7

Big bottles of wine from Zandvliet on display.

Freedom day8

A lovely outside relaxing area at the back.

Freedom day9

Enough wine till Kingdom come…

Freedom day10

I loved this little message on the wall.

Freedom day11

Some homemade rusks from Ouma Annie.

Freedom day12

I loved this clock that was on sale.

Freedom day1

The old locomotive is a landmark in Ashton and situated right next to Platform 62. Of course I couldn’t miss the opportunity to get a snap of this beautiful beast.

Freedom day18

Next I drove through the Cogmanskloof mountains on route to Montagu and I simply couldn’t help myself. I had to stop to get a few pics of the lovely Cogmanskloof mountains. Isn’t it just breathtakingly beautiful?

Freedom day16

Love, love, looove this pic! At the very top, if you look very closely you’ll see the Old English Fort which is where the British soldiers hid during war time. It has little holes all around that was just big enough to fit through their guns as they were shooting at their enemies at the bottom.

Freedom day15

More mountain magic. How beautiful!

Freedom day17

This is the final pic, sadly. I was on my way back home and I simply had to take a picture of the gorgeous blue sky. And it worked beautifully! Wowie! Absolutely stunning!

I am so very fortunate to see these views at any given moment. So, so gorgeous.

Till next time…

Meriza xx