Cape Town’s Minstrel parade is a feast for the eyes and ears!

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on December 31st, 2010

Cape Town means a hot-and-happening New Year’s Eve 2010

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on December 30th, 2010

 

In Cape Town, summertime means surf, suntans and a hot-and-happening New Year’s Eve. The entire area is famous for its music events, from the Kirstenbosch Gardens New Year’s Eve Concert to the multi-genre Rezonance New Year’s Eve Festival offering the ultimate trance and chillout experience. But as midnight nears, most people head for the Victoria & Albert Waterfront. Lively with bars and restaurants year-round, this former fishing terminal brings 2010 to a close against the magnificent backdrop of Table Mountain, as street performers and live music lead up to midnight fireworks over the city.

Make sure to save some energy for New Year’s Day, since many locals consider this the real celebration. Dating back to the 19th century, the Minstrel Carnival features more than 10,000 costumed musicians, singers and dancers parading in the streets, giving New Orleans and Rio a run for their money!

Hartenberg’s conservation efforts deliver quality in the glass

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on December 29th, 2010

Hartenberg lies in its own self-contained valley with a pure water source flowing through the entire length of the property into a pristine wetland system. This wetland, occupies 65 of the farm’s 170 ha, and has never been cultivated. Neither shall it be.

Since their purchase of Hartenberg in 1986, the owners have intensified conservation efforts, especially regarding alien clearing and birdlife proliferation on the farm.

Conservation Philosophy

All owners and staff have accepted responsibility for the conservation of the property through responsible and sustainable use of all natural resources, with our stated intention being to leave the property in a better condition than in which we received it.

Important Birdlife

• Guineafowl (approx. 300 birds)
• Burchell’s Coucal (rare in the Western Cape)
• African Fish Eagle (summer visitor)
• Spotted Eagle Owl (three breeding pairs)
• Jackal Buzzard

Animal Life

• Civet
• Mongoose
• Porcupine
• Caracal
• Various Antelope
Spotted Eagle Owl chicks are becoming a more and more common sight on the farm.

Biodiversity and Wine Initiatives

In 1997, an 8 km electric fence was erected around the farm’s perimeter, and within two years, substantial increases in animal sightings and nesting birdlife were recorded.

With a significant financial contribution from the owners, wage staff were incentivised to acquire their own properties off the farm. As a result, human impact on the wetland has been reduced by 60%.

Water Initiatives

A water quality management report was conducted for the estate in 2003 in order to optimise water use, and also to re-devise domestic and cellar effluent systems. The result has seen grey water being aerated and filtered, then re-used for vineyard irrigation.
Since 1995 we have reduced our overhead sprinkler irrigation from 80% to 10%. Today almost all irrigation is achieved through either a drip or micro system, with considerable water savings as a result.

Vineyard irrigation is now only used when necessary, with soil probe and leaf pressure bomb readings triggering watering.

In order to prevent soil erosion and silt being carried into the wetland, most water furrows have been cement-lined or hand-packed with stone.

While harvesting our Cabernet, we found an incredibly rare Arum Lily Frog. Not much of its wetland habitat remains.

Alien Vegetation Removal

A R50 000 investment has seen the removal of a lane of about fifty massive Blue Gum trees growing on the feeder river upstream of our wetland. We have since noticed increased and longer runoffs after rains and into spring.

A lane of about sixty mature pine trees was removed in 1998 at a cost of R70 000.

Recently, a forest of about two to three hundred Blue Gum trees was removed near our front entrance.

Every year since 2002, the wetland has been cleared of any new alien vegetation.

Other Initiatives

The farm has gradually moved from annual to permanent cover crops between vines, which provide additional natural habitat for fauna.

A moratorium on the removal and/or disturbance of any indigenous flora or fauna has been declared, and all staff have been educated as to the reasons for this.

Disused telephone poles have been erected at strategic points for use by raptors.

There is an ongoing indigenous tree-planting programme on the property.

No yearly fertilizers have been added for the past ten years. Instead, annual leaf and soil analyses determine maintenance nutrition for the vines and, should it be necessary, nitrogen is only added locally in the form of organics like chicken manure.

Nitrogen-fixing cover crops are also used. Even when you’re drinking a bottle of our red, you can be sure the wine in your hand is very very green.

Our refuse management strategy in 2001 changed from traditional burning and/or burying, to contracting the removal of refuse by an outside party. The large rubbish dump was covered over and will in time be rehabilitated.

Weed spraying is only carried out on wind-still days and only in a covered unit.

Hartenberg does not follow the traditional fixed and preventative fungal spray timetable. Instead, three strategically placed weather stations on the farm record conditions conducive to mildew infection. If an impending threat is noted, an SMS is sent to the viticulturist alerting him. With the guesswork taken out of spraying, not only have we managed to reduce our spray bill by 50%, but far less chemical is now applied to the environment.

Overture Restaurant at Hidden Valley has great food and views

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on December 28th, 2010

Overture Restaurant at Hidden Valley

Overture opened its doors in November 2007. This restaurant is the brain child of Bertus Basson and Craig Cormack, both talented chef extrordinaires based in Somerset West. Hidden Valley is more than just a wine producer and nature custodian, it is about the synthesis of good living; fine wine, great environment and superb cuisine. Much like our wines, the food is not flashy nor overly decorated, it is honest pure and delicious.

Barely a year after opening its doors, and hot on the heels of its Diners Club Platinum award, Overture has been voted fourth best restaurant in South Africa in the annual Prudential Eat Out awards.

Regarded as the Oscars of the local restaurant scene, the Eat Out awards are judged by critics who share a passion for gourmet food. Scores are given on 20 criteria including value for money, service, wine list and ambience in addition to the food itself; ensuring that patrons can expect an optimal experience.

The judges lauded Overture for its local, fresh and seasonal foods and degustation approach that makes a five course lunch “entirely possible”. The service was rated highly and the “meticulously neat open kitchen” seen as a great addition to the ambience.

Hidden Valley wine farm and Overture restuarant are 40 minutes from Beaumont House

Ascend Constantiaberg Mountain to walk off the Christmas pudding!

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on December 27th, 2010

Constantiaberg is a large, whalebacked mountain that forms part of the mountainous spine of the Cape Peninsula in Table Mountain National Park, Cape Town, South Africa. It lies about 7 km south of Table Mountain, on the southern side of Constantia Nek. The mountain is 927 m (3041 ft) high and was probably first climbed in prehistoric times by the Bushmen. It is not known who first ascended the peak in modern times.

Constantiaberg, Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain are the highest mountains in the range that stretches from Table Mountain all the way to Cape Point. The range, made up of resistant sandstones of the Table Mountain Group, dominates the southern suburbs of the city on the verge of the Cape Flats.

The lower eastern slopes of Constantiaberg are covered by the pine and gum plantations of Tokai forest, and are crisscrossed with hiking trails and gravel roads that are used for harvesting the trees. The forest is popular for walking, running and mountain biking.

The western slopes of the mountain overlook the magnificent scenery of Hout Bay.

A tarred road leads to the summit of Constantiaberg, where an important VHF mast is located. The mast is about 100 m high and is visible for perhaps 80 kilometers in any direction. It was constructed in the 1960s and is used to transmit signals for many local television and radio channels, and also to support cellular networks. The South African Weather Bureau has a radar installation at the summit.

Elephant’s Eye Cave, as seen from the fire lookout stationConstantiaberg is home to a variety of bird and plant species. The mountain is covered mainly by fynbos, a botanical biome native to the Western Cape.

Elephant’s Eye cave, a popular hiking destination, is the mountain’s biggest feature after the mast. This is visible near the southern end of the mountain when viewed from the Cape Flats. Elephant’s Eye is so named because the eastern profile of the mountain resembles an elephant (the range that continues toward Cape Point being the trunk).

The walk to the summmit, starting off from the car park at Silvermine (15 minutes from Beaumont House) takes a good hour, and is the perfect antidote to all the Christmas excess of food and wine, and is a preemptive strike against what is possibly coming up on New Year’s Eve!

Vriesenhof Chardonnay 2009 is very Burgundian | Beaumont House

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on December 22nd, 2010

At Vriesenhof, the art of winemaking is a fascinating journey that begins in the vineyards and ends with the enjoyment that accompanies a raised glass. Follow this journey and you will most certainly pause for reflection in the solitude of the Vriesenhof cellars. Here, traditional wood maturation methods combine effortlessly with modern fermentation processes. Add to this an ageing process that takes place in a setting disturbed only by the patient ticking of the clock and the artistry of the winemaker at work and you’ll soon understand why Vriesenhof consistently delivers wines of true Stellenbosch origin.

‘One’s footsteps must be in the soil,
you must understand the soil,
the plant and the climate.’
Jan ‘Boland’ Coetzee

The Vriesenhof Chardonnay 2009 reveals a rich and creamy nose with yeasty vanilla and a hint of toastiness. The wine has a hint of toast and sweet vanilla on the palate which is well balanced by a fruity acidity on the aftertaste. This elegant wine has a soft, full mouth feel and a complexity of fruit that lingers on the silky smooth finish – very Burgundian!

Vriesenhof wine farm is on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, 40 minutes from Beaumont House.

Christmas Carols by Candlelight at Kirstenbosch

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on December 19th, 2010

A great event for all the family – young and old. A Cape Town institution – and deservedly so!

Table Mountain the most beautiful in the World?

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on December 15th, 2010

Who’s got the best mountain in the world? We do! Our beautiful flat-topped landmark is Cape Town’s finest, most inspiring, most photographed, most loved attraction and so we’re quite excited about the United Nations’ eighth annual International Mountain Day, which took place on December 11, 2010. It’s only right that an entire day is dedicated to a thing of such great beauty, don’t you think?

According to the official website, “International Mountain Day is an opportunity to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build partnerships that will bring positive change to the world’s mountains and highlands.”

Our mountain

Here in Cape Town, we don’t need to be reminded of the importance of mountains. It’s our star attraction, drawing celebrities, dassies, tourists, locals, and more than 20-million visitors to date. For us, every day is mountain day.

Our marvellous mountain is covered in specimens of the Cape Floral Kingdom, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the most beautiful blooms and resultant sensational smells. Animals big and small roam these slopes and it’s a real honour to have such pristine natural beauty skirting one of the greatest cities in the world.

As a subject of photography, Table Mountain knows few rivals. The Cableway’s official Flickr group is testament to the fact that the mountain loves the camera – and that every angle is a good angle. From below or from above, the mountain, and the views that only the mountain can deliver, are world-famous, world-class, and absolutely breathtaking.

Table Mountain is also highly esteemed. Aeons ahead of other ranges in the world, our mountain is approximately 260-million years old. By comparison, the Andes are about 250-million years old, the Rockies are about 60-million, the Himalayas are 40-million and the Alps are 32-million years old.

With great age comes a certain spiritual weight; Table Mountain is considered one of the planet’s 12 main energy centres.

The best part is probably that, with a summit of 1 067m above sea level, you don’t necessarily have to walk all the way up. Unless you want to, of course….

Table Mountain is 15 minutes from Beaumont House.

Glenwood wine farm is a very special place | Beaumont House

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on December 14th, 2010

GlenWood is a very special place. Located in the little-known valley of Robertsvlei, a few kilometres from Franschhoek, close to Cape Town, the farm is surrounded by aspects of outstanding natural beauty.

Using only the best materials and sustainable viticultural practices, we have developed the farm over the past nineteen years, winning numerous awards for our vineyards and our hand-crafted wines.

Our credo, “simple, natural, quality”, pervades our thinking across all parts of the business; simple, be it architecture, label design or the way we approach decisions; natural, be it the farming practices we use, the wine making process itself, or the replanting of indigenous fynbos throughout the farm; quality, be it of the grapes we produce, the wines we vinify, or the human relationships we foster on and off the farm.

GlenWood Stars in 2010 Platter Guide

Glenwood has received exceptional star ratings for their wines in the 2010 John Platter Wine Guide:

· 4 ½ stars Chardonnay Vigneron’s Selection 2008

· 4 ½ stars Syrah Vigneron’s Selection 2007

· 4 ½ stars Semillon Vignerons Selection 2007

· 4 stars Chardonnay Unwooded 2009

· 4 stars Shiraz 2007

· 4 stars Merlot 2007

· 3 stars Sauvignon Blanc

The fact that the ratings span both red and white wines and cover all of GlenWood’s wines makes this an outstanding year for the boutique producer in Franschhoek.

These ratings follow a number of other top-flight awards achieved by GlenWood during 2009, including:

· National Champion Chardonnay – Terroir Awards

· Veritas Gold

· Diamond Selection – Winemakers’ Choice

· Top 10 South African Shiraz Selection.

DP Burger, General Manager and Winemaker at GlenWood says “I think this success is attributable to a number of things which have started coming together for us this year. These are the maturity of our vines, technical viticulture and the fact that we understand the nature of our vineyards together with the GlenWood terroir”.

The Glenwood Chardonnay 2008 is available at Beaumont House.

Topless Bus Tours are great for seeing Cape Town | Beaumont House

Posted by peter | Articles | Posted on December 13th, 2010

Cape Town’s Topless Tours take you along two scenic routes which offer a taste of some of Cape Town’s most popular local attractions, such as the Castle, the V&A Waterfront and Table Mountain. These distinctive Topless Explorer buses also transport you out of the city and along the coast. You could vist Kirstenbosch Gardens, Hout Bay, and even take a Township Tour.

What more convenient way would you find to experience Cape Town’s many varied attractions?

Cape Town’s Open Top Citysightseeing buses are something of a unique experience in touring. They’re becoming more and more popular among visitors to our city. These bright red buses are often to be seen conveying yet another group of enthusiastic passengers around the city, along our scenic coastline and through the winding Cape roads.

The Open Top City Sightseeing bus may also be chartered for special outings by arrangement. The Citysightseeing Cape Town bus service comes complete with 9 multilingual commentary channels, plus a ‘kiddie’ channel and is an ideal and convenient method of travelling to, and viewing the most popular attractions in Cape Town and surroundings.

You have a choice of a ‘Red Route’ City Tour, a ‘Blue Route’ Mini Peninsula tour – or a combination of both on Cape Towns Topless Tours. These 2 hour sightseeing tours will take you to the major highlights around the city, Table Mountain, Camps Bay and beyond, on a fascinating scenic drive.

 

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Tel: +27 21 761 5540
Fax: +27 21 761 5541
Mobile: +27 82 499 1527
Email: gill@beaumonthouse.co.za
Address: Beaumont House
3a Primrose Avenue
Upper Claremont
Cape Town, 7708
South Africa