TOKARA’s Rare Plant Sale

Experience TOKARA in all its natural splendour when this acclaimed wine and olive estate opens its extensive private gardens to the public for the annual Rare Plant Sale on Saturday, 20 October.

This popular event is a spring highlight for plant lovers. From indigenous offerings such as fynbos and proteas to the more exotic, the wide variety of plants will appeal to all tastes. In addition to the wide variety of plants, there will also be tea and other refreshments for sale. TOKARA will definitely also be well represented with their elegant wines and award winning extra virgin olive oils.

Meander through the indigenous, exotic and vegetable gardens, explore the woodland walks and discover the untold works of art spotted throughout the farm. The colossal landmark, the Angus Taylor Dionysus sculpture, commissioned by owners GT and Anne-Marie Ferreira proudly stands against an impressive Simonsberg backdrop.

The Rare Plant Sale starts at 09h00 with tickets (R50) that will be available at the gate. Children aged under 10 can enter for free. The TOKARA Tasting Lounge, restaurants and Delicatessen will be open as usual on the Saturday.

For more information, email pieterdiener@gmail.com.

 

Image credit: Supplied

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Contemporary Dining at Idiom

With two years trading under its belt, the Idiom Restaurant & Tasting Centre has fast become a must-visit destination for those seeking a vineyard setting with 180 degree panoramic views of both sea and mountain with spectacular cuisine and a wide range of top wines to match.

Situated near Sir Lowry’s Pass, Idiom is one of the southern-most vineyards in the Stellenbosch appellation with a positioning on the upper slopes of the Helderberg Basin. The elevated vantage point offers a unique coastal perspective of the full profile of the Cape Peninsula across False Bay whilst having the green, windswept vineyards and rugged, fynbos-covered mountainside as a backdrop to this unique Cape Winelands’ destination.

The restaurant space acts as a space from where the beautiful landscape can be observed in its different moods. The interior design is reserved in its almost Scandinavian simplicity, offering a calming, sheltered place to taste Idiom’s superb range of wines and enjoy a leisurely afternoon with friends and family. The dining experience continues to ensure that clients get a wonderful balance of flavours, with visual presentation showcasing the impeccable technique and the young talent being developed in the kitchen.

“Our focus is on contemporary cuisine bringing to life a fusion of our family’s Italian heritage as well as modern flavours and textures of the­ Cape. We have seventeen different grapes varieties from all over the world planted at Idiom, giving us plenty of scope for inspiration”, notes Roberto Bottega, who has headed up the project of developing the signature Idiom Tasting Centre. “Over the last two years, we have been working to establish the identity and desired direction of our Restaurant and Tasting Centre. Our main trading window is lunch, to take advantage of the views. Our primary goal is to create a top class food offering to match the scenery and complement and showcase our Idiom wines. We offer a Contemporary Dining experience, which is a 2- and 3-course seasonal menu, with a recommended wine pairing for each dish. We want customers to have a memorable visit to Idiom.”

“Each Idiom wine has its own unique character and flavour profile and we actively try and express those characters in the culinary offering, often using the colour spectrum as a guide,” adds Bottega. “Our current team in the kitchen, under the leadership of Calum Anderson, has a good understanding of this concept. The cured trout starter paired with Idiom Viognier and the lamb ragu paccheri paired with Idiom Zinfandel are two of my current favourites on our chef’s new menu.”

Guests can also request older vintages from Idiom’s library and enjoy wines at close to cellar door prices – an added benefit compared to dining at other top end establishments.

The owners

The Idiom project is run by the Bottega Family. Family patriarch, Alberto, was born in Italy and immigrated to the Cape in the 1950s. After a successful career upcountry in computer programming, banking and finance, he returned to Cape Town to retire to the Cape Winelands. In 1999 the first vines were planted from scratch on his Da Capo Vineyards farm and the first commercial vintage of Idiom was made in 2004.

Alberto’ son, Roberto, joined Idiom after 12 years of trading financial markets in London and Johannesburg. He has spearheaded the development of the Tasting Centre and manages global sales for Bottega Family Wines. He has developed a passion for Italian wines and is also the co-founder of a specialist wine import and distribution project called Vinotria, which he manages together with Pedro Estrada Belli. Vinotria’s portfolio includes wines from internationally acclaimed wineries such as Donnafugata in Sicily, Ornellaia in Tuscany, and Livio Felluga in Friuli, to name a few.

The Chef

Calum Anderson is an established head chef with 17 years’ experience of working in top-end restaurants, hotels and game lodges in South Africa, England and Australia. He has worked at leading hotels including The Cape Grace and Singita. During his career he has worked under some extremely gifted chefs including Gareth Collins, Giles Thompson, Chris Galvin, Peter Gordan, Bruce Robertson, Charles Le Febvre and Reuben Riffel. As a chef, Anderson has cooked for celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres, the British royal family, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton, Sheikha Al Mayassa of Qatar, Brad Pitt, Andrea Bocelli, Michel Roux Snr, Fran Drescher and William Shatner.

Anderson’s food philosophy is to ensure the integrity of the elements is upheld, that dishes are full of flavour, interesting and unusual.

“Visually, dishes should be natural and beautiful to the eye but not overly complicated as I believe this is my expression of how I see and feel about food.”

He is assisted at Idiom by talented sous chefs Donovan Christian and Bronwyn Solomon, who also heads up the pastry section.

Explore Italy at Idiom

Besides the contemporary dining offering at Idiom, there are other simpler Italian-inspired options to enjoy. Antipasto platters, with a selection of freshly sliced Italian cold meats such as prosciutto and salami, as well as cheese boards, with Italian and local soft and hard cheeses, are popular choices. The regional Italian pizza menu combines light thin crust bases with carefully chosen toppings using ingredients that transmit the tastes of the different regions of Italy.

“The regional pizzas are the first step to creating a dedicated Italian food offering, which in time, may require its own separate space,” says Bottega. “Regional Italian pastas are also being added to complement the pizzas. We are planning a rotating regional Italian degustation menu in order to showcase the fantastic regional wines we import with appropriate food. Italian wines are designed for food, and we hope to have this concept ready for the end of the year.”

Idiom is one of the leading producers of Italian varietal wines in South Africa, so it makes perfect sense for us to expand and take ownership of the Italian wine space in the country,” continues Bottega. “Visitors can taste Idiom’s locally produced Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Barbera, Nebbiolo and Primitivo (Zinfandel) wines at the wine bar or in the restaurant. We supply a number of leading Italian restaurants with both our locally made Idiom and imported Vinotria portfolio of Italian wines. Having access to the imported wines as reference points has been very important. Firstly, we have learnt a tremendous amount about the wines of Italy, and it has allowed us to monitor the progress, quality and style of the Italian varietal wines we produce locally, and to better understand the potential of our Cape terroir,” adds Bottega.

Did you know?

Idiom – currently the VIP Winelands Lunch Choice of local operator, Cape Town Helicopters – is now accessible by helicopter for those who want to take a spectacular trip to the Cape Winelands along the coast. The 4-hour VIP aerial adventure and Winelands Culinary experience departs from the Waterfront and takes in parts of the Cape Peninsula before arriving at Idiom.

http://idiom.co.za/

Stellenbosch presents an all-new Celebration of Wine

Stellenbosch – A Wine Celebration, the latest innovation by Stellenbosch Wine Routes offers an unprecedented opportunity to re-discover the wines and wine people of the illustrious wine region over the course of a single weekend. From Thursday, 2 August to Sunday, 5 August, this top-drawer vinous show will toast excellence and diversity through a handful of intimate and exclusive, must-attend events.

The most famous legends of Stellenbosch will be brought to life through fantastic wine tastings and elaborate fine dining, pairing delicious food and wine with fascinating, entertaining wine personalities, all at one cosy location: De Warenmarkt, in the historic heart of the City of Oaks.

The weekend celebration will highlight the region’s winemaking heritage, premium status and internationally-recognised excellence. Among the events a special focus commemorates Women’s Month and the contribution of female winemakers, while another showcases the essential ingredient of family tradition entwined with the very DNA of Stellenbosch wine.

On Thursday, 2 August, Boutique Brilliance & Big Bottles opens the show. This walk-around wine tasting takes place from 6PM to 10PM and features a dozen of Stellenbosch’s boutique wine producers. Demonstrating that big is not always better, this is the opportunity to discover and stock up on rare and lesser known wine treasures. The entry fee of R290 per person includes access to a feast of delicious canapes and the harvest table with a special cheese fondue.

On Friday, 3 August, the Women-in-Wine brunch puts the spotlight on the region’s female winemakers. A three-course meal will be served from 10AM to 12PM, with bubbly and wines and the stars themselves taking centre stage. Tickets are R400 per person.

The formal dinner, titled In The Company of Legends, takes place later on Friday, 3 August, and offers the exceptional chance to meet some of Stellenbosch’s greats over a premier four-course, food-and-wine extravaganza. Among the luminaries who will attend are world-renowned winemakers and exceptional story-tellers. Tickets to the event, which starts at 6.30 for 7PM, cost R650 per person.

On Saturday, 4 August, Father & Son acknowledges the unique contribution of skill and knowledge that is passed from generation to generation, to Stellenbosch wine excellence. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, this dinner will feature some of the famous father-and-son winemaking duos, who will share their stories over four courses, paired with their wines. Tickets to the event, which also starts at 6.30 for 7PM, cost R750 per person.

The final event of Stellenbosch – A Wine Celebration will be a very special lunch at noon on Sunday 5 August. The Cabernet Long Table will underline the region’s leading prowess with the noble Cabernet Sauvignon cultivar – status that is held thanks to its incomparable concentration of local and international award winners. The four-course meal pairs vintages of the variety with every dish, including dessert and will see some of local Cabernet Sauvignon winemaking royalty in attendance too. Tickets are R650 per person.

Tickets to each of the Stellenbosch – A Wine Celebration events are very limited. To book, visit www.wineroute.co.za.

For more information, contact Elmarie Rabe on 021 886 8275 or info@wineroute.co.za.

Steenberg Merlot for Cooler Climates

Winter is slowly, but surely, creeping up on us. One thing that excites me most about the cooler climate of winter, is red wine. Even better when it’s next to a cozy fireplace!

Steenberg‘s Merlot, with its concentrated berries, savoury notes of dried fynbos, lavender and fresh rosemary might be the ideal fireside comforter on chilly autumn or winter days. Crafted from vines on the cool Steenberg foothills, the fresh and vibrant 2015 vintage is richly rewarding with a mouthful of plum, dark chocolate and black olives.

Winemaker, JD Pretorius, says:

“With the change of seasons from summer into autumn, our food preferences change in turn to warmer, flavoursome and richer dishes. Our Steenberg Merlot is rich in generosity and warmth with a rounded texture which makes it a fantastic food-friendly wine.”

It is made for the long haul, with tannins and acidity in perfect balance and it has the potential to age beautifully for up to 15 years.

The wine is a slam dunk with red meat and Chef Kerry Kilpin of Steenberg’s popular Bistro Sixteen82 recommends a delicious grilled sirloin, drizzled with a whisky and black pepper jus and a green pea and tomato salsa. Get the recipe here…

Visit www.steenbergfarm.com or follow #LiveSteenberg on Twitter (@SteenbergWines) and Facebook (facebook.com/steenbergestate) for more information.

COLLABORATION, SKILLS DEVELOPMENT, UNIQUE EXPERIENCES – KEY TO CAPE WINELANDS TOURISM GROWTH

11. Lunch enjoyed at Spier by the speakers and delegates (HR) The recent edition of The Business of Wine & Food Tourism Conference saw those operating in the Cape’s wine, food and hospitality industries gather at Spier in Stellenbosch to glean insights from local and international specialists, and engage in informative discussions focused on growing revenue and loyalty for tourism in the Cape Winelands.

 

1. Margi Biggs, convenor of The Business of Wine & Food Tourism Conference 2017 (HR).jpg

Margi Biggs

Now in its second year, the annual conference is convened by seasoned travel and tourism specialist, Margi Biggs.  She believes that travel and tourism can potentially contribute significantly more than it currently does to South Africa’s national GDP.  The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has calculated that last year, the direct contribution of the travel and tourism sector to the South African economy was worth R127,9bn, accounting for 3% of the country’s GDP.  The indirect contribution was approximately 9%, according to South African Tourism.

 

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Rico Basson

Rico Basson, executive director of Vinpro, the non-profit organisation that represents around 3 500 South African wine producers and cellars, used the example of the Wine Industry Strategic Exercise (WISE) initiative, launched in 2015, to illustrate how collaboration is paramount to unlocking value and stimulating growth.  WISE was developed by the South African wine and brandy industry to help it reach a desirable future state by 2025. Its robust and adaptable approach is geared towards driving profitability, global competitiveness and sustainability. It is a collaborative effort driven by Vinpro, SALBA (South African Liquor Brandowners Association), SAWIS (South African Wine Industry Information and Systems), WOSA (Wines of South Africa) and Winetech (Wine Industry Network of Expertise and Technology). 

Basson mentioned key targets for the industry towards 2025, such as building a greater presence in strategic markets, specifically in the US and Africa; growing Cape wine tourism to increase visitor numbers by 25%; and increasing Cape wine tourism’s annual direct contribution to South Africa’s national GDP from R6 billion to R16 billion. He also highlighted the use of technology and research in continuing to create a sustainable future for the overall industry.

19. Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro (HR)

Tim Harris

Tim Harris, head of Wesgro, the Western Cape’s trade and investment promotion agency, foresees continued growth potential in tourism for the region. He referenced the Fourth Industrial Revolution, its disruptive effect on all economies, and especially the necessity for Africa to adapt in terms of digital skills development, changing business models and public-private partnerships to advance its ‘Africa rising’ narrative.

 

 

8. Speaker, Linda d'Holt Hacker getting more insight from the speakers (HR).jpg

Linda D’Holt-Hacker

“The Cape Winelands offers a high quality slow product in a world where time is seen as increasingly rare and valuable. The Business of Wine & Food Tourism Conference provides an incredible opportunity to celebrate this,” Harris said.    

5. Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo from South African Tourism (HR).jpg

Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo

Representing South African Tourism, Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo explained how the entity is rallying South Africans and the economic sector to fully support tourism growth with the launch of the ‘We Do Tourism’ movement, on 29 September 2017. “Every citizen of South Africa plays a role in local tourism. We are in a crisis if we don’t support tourism. It creates jobs, enriches lives and brings people together.”

 

 

 

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Jerry Mabena

Jerry Mabena, CEO of Thebe Services that owns the Thebe Tourism Group surmised that South African Afropolitans could boost the annual South African economy by more than R2 billion and grow tourism. That is if they are given appealing reasons to travel to the Cape Winelands.  He described Afropolitans as cosmopolitan Africans; global in their outlook, straddling the divide between African and Western cultures, and having the disposable income for travel. Yet they are not really targeted by the local travel and tourism industry.

Mabena suggested that wineries rethink and refocus their marketing efforts, and create events around wine drinking, activated in spaces that Afropolitans can relate to. “Make wine drinking accessible – take away the snob value and mystery but leave some ‘upmarket’ attributes.  Encourage Afropolitans to meet the owners and/or winemakers at cellars – make them feel like they are guests, not just random customers.

“Big events such as the annual Soweto Wine Festival have and continue to play a major part in bringing wine and wine-related experiences into the consideration sets of Afropolitans. Create more of these and combine wine with whisky, cognac and other spirit experiences. Experiences create stories. Polo and wine festivals seem to attract Afropolitans – expand those.”

 

10. Dr Robin Back (HR)

Dr. Robin Back

Dr Robin Back, a South African-born, US-based academic who conducts wine tourism research in both South Africa and the US, shared the findings of his recent research study that looked specifically at the effect of a winery visit on brand loyalty and purchasing behaviour. He explained that the results indicated that winery tourism does in fact have a positive long-term effect on brand loyalty and purchasing behaviour, but that the strongest effect of positive winery visitation appears to be on brand loyalty, which is shown not to diminish over time. He also mentioned the significant role of frequent and continuous communication with those who have visited, to further strengthen the bond between the brand and the consumer. Back added that wine tourism should be incorporated into overall winery marketing plans.

4. Delegates listening to Don Shindle (HR)

Conference delegates learned about the art of impeccable service from Don Shindle, an expert in customer service from Napa, California’s renowned wine tourism epicentre. He explained the importance of expertly and thoroughly trained staff, empowered to act with confidence, in achieving top service standards.  “Everything communicates, so engage your workers and enable them to perform.  Be agile in practices to create loyalty beyond reason, and delivery your brand promise. Teamwork means I am you, and you are me.”

3. Don Shindle general manager of The Westin Verasa Napa (HR)

Don Shindle

Shindle’s thinking was echoed by Linda d’Holt-Hacker of South Africa’s The Touch Company, that assists large and small organisations in developing and fine-tuning outstanding customer journeys and brand experiences. Showcasing a model she calls ‘The Hosting Paradigm’ as a tool for effective decision-making, she also outlined how crucial it is for employees to understand very clearly why they do what they do – in other words, to have a sense of real purpose aligned with the brand they represent. In addition, she shared insights on how to align guest experiences with a brand’s core values, and highlighted the need for a shift in how service staff are perceived and think about themselves. 

 

16. Kevin Arnold, cellar-master & managing partner of Waterford Wine Estate (HR).jpg

Kevin Arnold

Waterford Estate’s Kevin Arnold outlined best practice for winery tasting centres. He believes that wine brands are built in the tasting room and that unique, innovative and personal tasting experiences are paramount to creating memorable value. “At Waterford, we’ve found that we sell more wine and build greater loyalty when offering guests not only a tasting, but an experience such as a vineyard safari where they get to taste our wines outside, in the vineyards. Personalised experiences help us form real connections with our guests. Wine brings them through the door, experience brings them back.” Arnold views visitors as guests, not customers.  He also believes in in-depth training and development of staff, mentorship, building confidence and ensuring that employee aspirations fit with those of the brand.

 

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Kelly Jackson

General manager of Contiki in South Africa, Kelly Jackson, presented ways in which virtual reality could be very effectively used as a strategic marketing tool to bring a product or service to life. She however cautioned against using virtual reality as a gimmick, and suggested that brands use it only if it fits with the experience they aim to promote.

 

 

7. Andrea Robinson, master sommelier for Delta Air Lines (HR)

Andrea Robinson

Meanwhile, world-renowned US lifestyle TV personality, Andrea Robinson, one of only 23 female Master Sommeliers in the world, covered the process of choosing wines for Delta Air Lines and showed how the airline uses its marketing and media properties such as its in-flight magazine and on-board entertainment system to highlight specific wines and wine routes.  She also elaborated on other marketing activities including sponsorships and partnerships, themed wine region promotions in strategically located hubs, and the up-skilling of flight attendants in terms of wine knowledge and service.

 

9. Panel discussion headed by Dr Jaisheila Rajput, Jessica Shepherd, Luke Grant & Joe Stead (HR)

Dr Jaisheila Rajput, founder and CEO of Tomorrow Matters Now (TOMA-Now), an independent consultancy focused on developing the green economy with special emphasis on value chain management and growth, together with Joe Stead of the Spur Corporation and Luke Grant and Jessica Shepherd of The Table at De Meye in Stellenbosch, winner of the Eat Out Sustainability Award in 2016, presented a panel discussion focused on the role hotels, wineries, restaurants and consumers can play in promoting a sustainable future, particularly addressing the issue of food waste management.

 Rajput said that the sustainability movement had already started in South Africa, with clear examples provided by Stead, Grant and Shepherd. Stead mentioned that although waste management is a complex issue, the Spur Corporation has had major successes, from Spur restaurants recycling cooking oil to produce biodiesel, to John Dory outlets eliminating all plastic packaging in a bid to tackle the issue of ocean pollution.   

 

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Wendy Masters

Reputation management and strategic communication specialist Wendy Masters of The Phoenix Partnership, based in Cape Town, educated delegates on the key phases of crisis communication: prepare, respond and recover. She believes that reputation is about delivery, not promise, and described how pro-active approaches to crisis situations could actually strengthen brand reputation, citing the example of The Vineyard Hotel in Newlands, Cape Town.  “When the water shortage crisis in the Western Cape became evident, immediate action was taken to remove plugs from bath tubs and install low-flow shower heads in all guest bathrooms. These efforts clearly demonstrated the hotel’s commitment to sustainability, recognised and applauded by guests and other stakeholders such as local government,” Masters said.  

 

Early Bird catches the Worm

The initial registration period for The Business of Wine and Food Tourism Conference, taking place at Spier in Stellenbosch on 20 September, ends on Monday, 12 June.

Trainees and professionals working in the Cape’s wine, food and tourism industries are encouraged to register now to take advantage of the preferential ‘early bird’ rate of R2 950 (excl. VAT) per delegate. After 12 June, a standard fee of R3 950 (excl. VAT) per delegate will apply, up until 18 August.  Those registering after 18 August will need to pay R4 500 (excl. VAT) per head.

The annual conference, now in its second year, is convened by seasoned travel and tourism specialist, Margi Biggs. She says that this year’s edition of the forum would be presented by a selection of international and local tourism specialists, such as CEO of SA Tourism, Sisa Ntshona; Don Shindle, an expert in customer service and GM of the Westin Verasa Napa in California’s renowned wine tourism epicentre; world-renowned TV personality, Andrea Robinson, one of only 23 female master sommeliers in the world; as well as Dr. Robin Back, a South African-born, US-based academic who conducts wine tourism research in both South Africa and the US.

The overall focus of the conference would be on best practice and how to improve the customer experience to build customer loyalty. The programme will also cover topics like virtual reality, attracting new markets (even within South Africa), and PR trouble shooting.

Biggs contends that, if done right, travel and tourism can contribute even further to South Africa’s national GDP.  The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has calculated that last year, the direct contribution of the travel and tourism sector to the South African economy was worth R127,9bn, accounting for 3% of the country’s GDP.

For more information on the conference, or to register online, visit www.wineandfood.co.za.

Welcome, Ilka

Not too long ago, Travelling Mystery Guest was just a dream to me. I can blissfully say that the journey is getting even more exciting and awe-inspiring by the day! Hence, I am over the moon and jumping for joy, because today I have the privilege of introducing you to Travelling Mystery Guest’s very first, officially appointed employee: Ilka Steyn!

Ilka Steyn

Ilka Steyn

Welcome, dear Ilka, to Travelling Mystery Guest. May your travels with TMG be both motivating and inspirational.
Ilka will be assisting TMG with some fine marketing tactics, some new, innovative ideas for our blog and she will also help out with our social media management facilities.
Her 5 favourite things to do are:
1. Cycling
2. Being creative, whether it be writing or crafts
3. Reading
4. Playing with and walking her dogs
5. Spending time with loved ones and friends
Her favourite wine is Beyerskloof’s Pinotage and her favourite restaurant: Papa’s at Duncan Yard, Pretoria.
Keep an eye out for her first blog post: 10 of the worst things to say to a customer