It is the highlight of the year in all winemakers calender. It is both a burden and a joy. Lots of hard work but ample rewards. Harvest season is here. In fact, it is nearly over. To celebrate the harvest, we were invited to Lanzerac for a day of hard work, good wines and excellent food.
Arriving early, we were put to work with our ‘skér’ and ‘lug boks” in the last of the blocks to be harvested, Shiraz. The farm workers, with incredible speed and precision, showed us the ropes and soon we got into the groove and worked our way along the vines. Heading up our team was general manager, Barend Barnard, who was no stranger to the harvest. “It’s easiest to cut the grapes from the vine if a team goes ahead of the cutters to clear some of the leaves away’ he says. And he did just that, making our job much simpler.
Once we had filled up our crates, it was down to the cellar for some pressing with winemaker, Wynand Lategan leading the pack. Stripping off our socks and shoes, we all took turns stomping the grapes. It was an incredible experience, even though at first, it did feel strange under foot. We were rewarded with tasting wines straight from the tanks- definitely a first for me.
Next, it was a visit to the library. Not full of books, but of vintage wines dating back to the earliest bottled on the estate. The most precious being the first bottle of Pinotage in the world! Lanzerac were the farm behind the vision of Professor Perold back in the 1920’s. He aimed to create the perfect blend between Hermitage (Cinsault) and Pinot Noir. The result was our proudly South African cultivar, Pinotage. The first vintage was bottled in 1959 at Lanzerac. It was released in 1961 and there are only two bottles left in the world. One of them pictured below.
As the day was a celebration of the harvest, and no celebration is complete without a meal, we were invited to the beautiful outdoor courtyard and greeted with a harvest table like no other. Chef Stephen Fraser pulled out all the stops.
After lunch, we were given a tour of the new hotel. The old building was badly damaged during a fire last May but the team has worked hard to give this beautiful historic estate a facelift. Some of the structures on the estate date back to 1692.
Most rooms have their own outside patios, with views of the lush gardens and estate. The Jonkershoek Mountains are the perfect backdrop for this luxurious living space. The rooms and suites are all furnished with genuine antiques. No expense has been spared to provide guests with a 5-star experience and a home away from home.
Some additions to the hotel and surrounding buildings include a chapel, a large indoor/outdoor restaurant as well as a fine dining restaurant and wine bar. The hotel will be open for reservations later this year.
For more information on the hotel, restaurant and wines, please contact Lanzerac:
Tel:+27 (0)21 887 1132