A little piece of paradise one hour's drive from Cape Town
About Us and our farm
Johan and I have been on the farm 15 years, and living here and getting the farm to be sustainable, has been an incredible wonderful journey, which has brought us much joy and many challenges, and stretched us beyond our imagining.
By training a molecular biologist, Johan had a life-long ambition to farm and make wine. I, on the other hand, am a practicing clinical psychologist, and have always dreamed of living in the country, and especially on a nature reserve. Then, in our early 40’s , when Johan came to the end of his teaching contract at the University of the Western Cape, we decided that if we were to pursue the lives we really wanted, we should get on with it.So we sold everything we could, joined forces with friends living overseas, and in October 1997 left our small house in Observatory for the farm.
Struggling for sustainability
At first we only farmed wine grapes and Johan made small quantities of wine for fun. But it soon became clear that farming alone would never make us sustainable, and so we turned the beautiful old farmhouse into a guest house and small workshop centre.
We also began making wine more seriously, and in 2004 made our first properly bottled and labelled wine. It was delicious and much appreciated, which spurred us on, so that now, using our own grapes, we make about 8,000 bottles and 6 different wines. In 2010 we renovated the old 1850’s wine cellar, and hope to double our output over the next years.
In 2008, with the aim of increasing our capacity for workshops, and of hosting weddings and parties, we turned the old hoene hok (chicken house) into a pavilion. Then when, two years later we renovated the old cellar to make bigger quantities of wine, we used half of the building for a new space which we use both as a marriage chapel and as a second venue.
Whatever else we have done, our hearts have always been with the 250 hectares of wild land on the farm. Each year we have worked on the mountain road, cleared whatever aliens we could and controlled erosion wherever possible. And finally, it looks like our wild land will be declared an official contract nature reserve. This is part of a stewardship programme developed by Cape Nature. Our mountain provides much pleasure to birders and hikers, researchers of insects, butterflies, plants and mammals.
Olive production and other produce
Aside from grapes we have about 900 olive trees, although most will only come into full production in the next few years. We now bottle, and sell about 50 litres a year. Inevitably Johan’s passion for growing and cooking country food, has translated into a large vegetable garden, numerous lemon products and balsamic style vinegar.
Of course, not everything is geared to production, and we have found ourselves hosting two fairs, numerous open days and a jazz music festival. All have been great fun.
Meet the team
Living and working on the farm are Auxilia Nyaradzi, Jacob Zengeya, and Fortunate Munyukwi. Also our longest working employee, Basil Majaja, who together with the other men, do a wide range of farm work. We outsource our harvesting and pruning each year to a local team.
In addition Lisa du Plooy gives us invaluable help with marketing and with the running of weddings and celebrations, and Loni Drager helps us two mornings a week with admin. Letitia Esterhuzen, once a month does our books and we are currently building a team for function work.
Apart from this permanent and part time staff, there is a continual stream of volunteers who help out with various aspects of the work in exchange for bed and board. They come from far and wide and stay weeks or months and are a very important part of farm life
Apart from dogs (Carl and Sweet pea) and cats (Suzi Cream-cheese and Osama ben kitty), we have a small farmyard to which people have added various feathered and four legged creatures. We now have 3 donkeys, 3 Cameroon goats, 2 sheep, 2 Chinese geese, 2 ducks and numerous chickens.These provide much entertainment to small and big guests and add a note of sanity when things get hectic.
The farm seems to have a life of its own and is ever changing. This is what we love about it most. Our hope is that it continues to give all of us who live here or pass through here, something of value.
The blog is a commentary on the on-going life of Fynbos. We hope you enjoy it and welcome your comments and blog entries and your visits to Fynbos.