JUST as the premium quality wines grown and crafted at Avondale Organic Wine Farm encapsulate nature’s vitality, dynamism and bounty, so does this distinctive estate in the Paarl Valley reveal and share in its generosity and beauty.
This summer brings a host of enticing reasons to venture to the breathtakingly scenic, 300-year-old farm set at the foot of the Klein Drakenstein mountains, an easy drive from Stellenbosch and Cape Town.
Visitors can enjoy personalised guided tastings of the latest vintages of Avondale’s wines in the sophisticated and warmly hospitable Tasting Gallery. Facing onto a garden of colourful blooms and with its walls adorned with paintings by one of South Africa’s leading landscape artists, it’s an inviting venue at which to be introduced to the farm’s hand-crafted slow wines, created holistically through a combination of time-honoured wisdom, natural farming practices and modern science.
Eco Wine Safaris
The farm’s Eco Wine Safaris provide an even better way to get acquainted with Avondale’s ethos of Terra Est Vita, meaning ‘Soil is Life’, which proprietor and viticulturist Johnathan Grieve bases on the principle that healthy soil produces healthy plants.
Highly specialised and individually catered for, these fun, interactive ‘safaris’ take guests on an informative tour through the ultra-modern gravity-flow cellar, constructed three storeys underground, and then out into the vineyards on the back of a typical farm-style vehicle. Here guests will gain a closer understanding of the biodynamic agriculture practices the organically certified farm incorporates into the production of its wines.
A welcoming glass of Avondale’s fresh, lively Méthode Cap Classique, the Armilla Blanc de Blanc, sets the tone for the fascinating journey of discovery, conducted by one of the farm’s knowledgeable guides.
An exploration of the expansive property, which unfurls over 300 hectares of cultivated land and indigenous terrain, includes surveying the natural wastewater system made up of three interlinking dams. It also takes in some of the biodynamic methods and preparations used by Grieve, such as the field broadcaster energy device that works with natural cosmic energies to improve soil quality and stimulate healthy growth in the vines.
Picturesque stops along the way provide a chance to taste a further five wines in the Avondale collection – Camissa, a rosé; Cyclus, a refreshing white blend; Anima, a lively Chenin Blanc; La Luna, a classic red blend; and Samsara, a Syrah – amid the particular vineyard blocks where the grapes were grown.
Guests will learn more about Avondale’s efforts to restore and re-establish indigenous fynbos species on the farm, among other measures, as a member of the WWF Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI). They might even catch a glimpse of some of the less elusive bird and mammal species among the wealth of creatures endemic to the farm.
Grieve’s dynamic BioLOGIC® system is more easily understood when seeing it so vividly in action in the vineyards and surrounding land, where the farm’s herd of Angus cattle and delightful team of snail-guzzling ducks are employed as part of the natural solution to managing soil health and dealing with pests without the use of chemicals. These are just a few of the remarkable ways that Avondale produces extraordinary wines approved by Mother Nature.
Following a wine tasting or Eco Wine Safari, appetites can be sated in a cosy corner of the Tasting Gallery or on the vine-covered terrace with its glorious mountain and garden views. Warmer weather might call for alfresco dining on picnic blankets on the tree-shaded lawn.
Avondale Lunch Platters
Avondale’s delectable lunch platters feature wholesome, flavourful fare created by renowned One Ingredient chef Matt Manning, with an emphasis on fresh, locally sourced and seasonally available produce.
The lunch platters provide an assortment of tantalising flavours that are harmoniously paired with Avondale’s beautifully concentrated, food-friendly wines, the full range of which can be purchased by the glass or bottle.
The fare on offer is simple, satisfying and perfect for sharing, with each platter enough for two hungry guests.
For an artfully wrapped sandwich, a choice of fillings can be made from smoked rainbow trout with cream cheese and pickled cucumbers, or smoked free-range chicken breast with truffle mayo and rocket.
The platter includes warm Mac & cheese croquettes that melt in the mouth, lightly Curried smoked fishcakes with a caper raisin dip, and Piri piri chicken bites served with piri piri dip. There is also a fresh salad of crisp garden greens, a spread of ripe Dalewood cheeses, and an assortment of home-bottled pickles and compotes that add a delicious zingy edge to any of the savoury bites. Vegans and vegetarians can be accommodated on request.
Lunch is best followed with an expertly poured espresso or cappuccino, or pot of tea, served with a scrumptious cookie – duck-shaped, naturally – on the side.
Scats Esterhuyse on show at Avondale
Beautiful details abound at Avondale, and no less in the evocative works of celebrated South African landscape painter Scats Esterhuyse, whose exhibition, entitled ‘Celebrating 20 Years’ is on show to admiring visitors in the Tasting Gallery, showcasing his work from around the Karoo and Western Cape over the last two decades.
A self-taught artist from Johannesburg, Esterhuyse has participated in solo and group exhibitions countrywide, with his work – notable for its magnificent vistas, moody skies and sensitive use of light – appearing in numerous private collections. At Avondale the artist has found something of a meeting of minds with proprietor Johnathan Grieve and his creative, innovative approach to winegrowing and making.
On his extensive travels through South Africa, Esterhuyse searches for the essence of the country’s small towns and the landscapes in between them. His insight and appreciation for the natural beauty he finds during these travels is skillfully portrayed in his works, which have found appreciative buyers while on display at Avondale.
Esterhuyse explains the synergy between his work and Avondale’s approach to wine farming as ‘striving for perfection in an organic way’.
His paintings, which feature powerful landscapes of the Drakensberg, the Karoo and tiny Western Cape towns alongside dramatic portrayals of Avondale itself, lend an additional sensory layer to the wine discovery experience, and provide another notable reason to visit the farm this winter.
• Wine tastings at Avondale are available by appointment Monday to Sunday 10am to 4pm. Priced at R50 per person.
• The Eco Wine Safaris are held by appointment Wednesday to Friday 10am to 3pm. The duration is approximately 2 to 3 hours, and includes a tasting of 6 wines. Priced at R200 per person. To book, call 021 863 1976 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
• Lunch platters are served Monday to Sunday 10am to 4pm. Priced at R320 per platter (suitable for sharing). Booking is recommended – call 021 863 1976 or email email@example.com
Avondale is a 300 year old, family-run farm that is situated on Lustigan Road, Klein Drakenstein, Paarl – on the slopes of the Klein Drakenstein Mountains.
For more information, follow us on Twitter @AvondaleWine; visit www.facebook.com/AvondaleWines or, Instagram avondalewinesa
The Avondale Tasting Gallery is now open from Monday through to Sunday from 10h00 to 16h00. Learn more from Johnathan Grieve’s blog at www.biologicwine.co.za