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Farm Stories

In The Winter Of Twenty Nineteen

By July 2019March 5th, 2021No Comments

Midwinter spring is its own season
Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,
Suspended in time, between pole and tropic.
When the short day is brightest, with frost and fire,
The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches,
In windless cold that is the heart’s heat,
Reflecting in a watery mirror
A glare that is blindness in the early afternoon.
And glow more intense than blaze of branch, or brazier,
Stirs the dumb spirit: no wind, but pentecostal fire
In the dark time of the year.
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from…
Every phrase and every sentence is an end
and a beginning… From: Little Gidding

– T.S. Eliot

How delightful to see and feel the rain again, like this – in silver ribbons from a cold grey sky.
Once again the waterfalls come pouring down the mountain, the Blaauwklippen river is gushing and roaring with bright clear winter water and the cold earth, so parched and dusty and dry just the other day is sticking to galoshes and splashing in muddy streaks against whitewashed walls smelling of rotten leaves and new growth and winters before global warming and changing weather patterns…

Nobody complains about the cold, we eat soup and stews and light fires and wear coats and jerseys and wish for more winter and soon it will be time to prune and tidy up the mess winter has made and then it will be spring.

When I heard the learn’d, astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures,
were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams,
to add, divide, and measure them,

When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with
much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wandered off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Looked up in perfect silence at the stars.

– Walt Whitman

From the Winery

A commanding and enchanting Syrah from South Africa.

“I am rather ashamed that I haven’t written up this wine before in MoneyWeek because it has been a masterful creation for many years. In 2015 it eclipsed the amazing 2014 which I, personally, didn’t think possible. While the ’14 was controlled, calm, classy and complex, the 2015 vintage, which includes 5% Mourvèdre and 1% Viognier in its makeup, is more densely packed and profound.

Only two-thirds of the normal crop was harvested in this vintage and, while the cellar might not be as full as usual, the bottles are certainly stuffed with even more flavour than ever. Fifteen percent new oak is used here and so the dramatic, mountainside fruit is allowed to express itself fully in this commanding, spicy, aromatically enchanting wine.

Talking of Viognier, 2018 Tamboerskloof Viognier with its cunning addition of 11% Roussanne, is also an astounding wine and certainly the best white I have tasted from this farm. The greengage theme makes it unlike any Viognier I have tasted before. It is crisp and firm as well as sensual and provocative, and regular readers will know how fussy I am about this grape, so don’t delay in securing both this wine and the incredible Syrah.

I urge you to visit the Kleinood website, too, and you will discover how much love and skill goes into the wines and olive oils made here.”

This article was originally published in MoneyWeek
Winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (

2019 Vintage

Reynie Oosthuizen talks to the Kleinood Skapie about his first vintage as winemaker.

It was the first vintage handled by our new winemaker Reynie Oosthuizen! Seeing his passion and enthusiasm come to life in the winery, vineyards and as the leader of an extraordinary vineyard team was a wonderful experience to be part of. We can’t wait to see and taste the fruits of his (and his team’s) labours – when big dreams and passion meets hard work and dedication, great things happen!

KS: Overall, how has the 2019 vintage gone?
R: All in all it’s been an interesting and challenging vintage to say the least – definitely not predictable in any way whatsoever. Our approach was affected by the weather in a big way, with unseasonable rains resulting in delays in harvest while we waited for berries to reach their optimum quality before harvesting. With that said, and being a terroir-driven producer, we honoured what Mother Nature provided as best we can without compromising on the quality of produce we’ve come to be known for.

Given the demanding couple of years, the Western Cape has experienced, specifically weather-wise, it’s very hard drawing any comparison. If anything it’s been weather which, following the droughts we’ve had the past few vintages, proved as much a blessing as it was a curse. We’re starting to get used to unpredictability here in Stellenbosch, and in the Western Cape in general. Being flexible and reactive in our approach is probably the most important part of producing quality through differentiation – something that’s made much easier by a “small producer approach” focussed on attention to detail and being able to control winery-intake based on vineyard conditions.

KS: What can we expect from the wines as a whole?
R: Terroir driven differentiation. We don’t make wines so we can bottle and then sell them. We make wines that tell a story – of a place, an ideology, a terroir and a vintage. Continuity in quality is key, but so is making wines that, when drunk, brings to life the aforementioned. Don’t expect wines that are “designed”, but rather wines that are a “product of or reflection of” the vintage.

The wines of 2019 will be more restrained but by giving the wines the time they deserve you will be entertained with more fresh red berry and oral notes, with spice at the end compared to a bigger bolder vintage like 2015. e natural acidity in the white wines will impress and will be very good food companions.

KS: Which wine are you most looking forward to trying?
R: You’re asking the wrong person – obviously we’re excited to taste them all. The wines we make, and why we make them, are so entrenched in our day-to-day lives that you’re basically asking us which of our children we like more. My suggestion would be to taste and decide for yourself!

The elegance of 2019 excites me – in a more quiet discreet vintage, a sense of place truly comes out.

KS: Was this vintage better for red’s or whites?
R: Syrah berries are very prone to shrivel when ripe. However, 2019 had barely any shrivel, which in turn gave us very fresh fruit to work with in the cellar.

The Rosé of  2019 is going to be a great wine come winter or summer, due to the texture and weight on the mid-palate. The growing season looked great for our Viognier and Roussanne, the texture along with great acidity made these wines show beautifully from day one, not to mention the lingering finish. The red’s elegance will make the wines memorable, and will keep you coming back for more.

KS: One fun fact to share from the 2019 vintage.
R: So many snakes! We place a lot of emphasis on working in harmony with our environment, and are very aware of the role each and every organism (big or small) plays in the creation of what we make. This vintage we definitely kept an eye on where we put our feet…It is always great to hear the team’s banter, especially while playing domino’s during lunch breaks.

KS: The key thing you learnt after completing the 2019 vintage.
Planning goes a long way, but at the end of the day Mother Nature’s the boss. You can have all your ducks in a row, but if the fat-lady decides to sing you can’t do much other than dance. It’s almost arrogant to think you’re in control….

KS: Most memorable food moment from the vintage? An army marches on its stomach, after all.

Late evenings in the winery calls for quick meals. We make our own soups and stews at home, using veggies from our own gardens, which arrives in the winery piping hot served alongside hand broken ciabatta from a local bakery. On lazy evenings it’s all about delicious battered and deep-fried hake and chips from a shop in town (Stellenbosch), which is as much a fast-food joint as it is a local legend.

KS: If I were to capture this vintage in a song, I would have to go with a track by South African jazz legend, Winston Mankunku Ngozi, called “Molo Africa”. Its deep rhythmical drive and earthy tones are broken by bursts of energy and creativity that are defined by the moment as much as they are by an understanding and appreciation of unpredictability. Bringing all of these facets together in a track so definitive of a time, moment and place is what this vintage, as much as the song, is all about. Or in just three words. “Keep ‘em coming!”

Tamboerskloof John Spicer 2013

“The reason for making the John Spicer Syrah is based purely on the outstanding and
unique character of the wine produced by this vineyard year after year – wishing to keep it
apart as the ultimate expression of our terroir, supporting the philosophy that great wines
are made in the vineyard.”

The artwork on the wrapping of the John Spicer 2013 was created by the highly acclaimed young artist and academic, Stephané Conradie, who is now a full-time lecturer and PhD. candidate in Fine Arts at the University of Stellenbosch.

Stephané was also the artist residency at the Kleinood Komposjaart residency.“Luxurious, five-star fruit ripeness with silky tannin, then a long and spicy finish. Really finely layered and lingering. Superb.”

– Jancis Robinson

From the Tasting Room

As always, the Upper-Blaauwklippen Vintners event was a very special day. It was a crystal clear Boland day, offering magnificent views of the mountain and allowing us to mingle with guests and friends inside the tasting room and out around the duck pond. There were many new guests to introduce to our wines and the farm, as well as old friends of the valley who came to share in the festivities and enjoy the simple comfort of togetherness over a glass of wine and good food on a beautiful winter’s day.

The date for the next Upper-Blaauwklippen Vintners festivity has been set for 6 June 2020 – come rain or shine. In the tasting room, now, the Cupboard of Curiosities is celebrating winter with felted blankets, tea cosies, hot water bottle wraps and honey to keep you snug and healthy.

From the Komposjaart

The Komposjaart has been rather lively since the beginning of the year. It was thrilling to host Gwendolyn Meyer and Alice Johnson – both dynamic and charming artists and individuals in their own right. Their fields of work are worlds apart, but they both found their specific ways of interacting with the farm and the surrounding area for the purpose of their work. Seeing their projects unfold and experiencing their work and methodology in the environment where it was created was an enchanting experience.

Alice works in the clothing industry where her interest lies, primarily, in the creation of fabric which then becomes a garment as the fabric develops. She studied and worked in Paris, New York and London before returning to South Africa for a short while. Her process in the Komposjaart residency was built around the development of new techniques in order to build garments or objects whilst creating the fabric they are made of.

Gwendolyn Meyer:
In her own words;

(Of late I focus on how the visual is a platform to consider ideas about people and place at this planetary turning point.)

In Stellenbosch the Eerste Rivier is a common thread and connects Jonkershoek to Macassar. I wish to realize a project that speaks of the narrative of the river, a narrative that overrides social and political boundaries.

In Stellenbosch an Apartheid-era infrastructure physically separates the community. However, the Eerste Rivier is a physical and metaphorical thread and connects Stellenbosch to itself. From Jonkershoek to Macassar, the river reveals connections and commonalities and the shared geography of greater Stellenbosch.

Stellenbosch was first settled along the Eerste Rivier, named as such because it was the first river early settlers came across on leaving the Cape. The river was the town’s lifeblood. Now after a certain point beyond the mountains, it is polluted beyond use and often invisible and channelled under roads.

In the 24 years since Apartheid ended and South Africa began to grow its democracy, global ecological issues have escalated into centre stage. Climate change threatens the well-being of all people and amplifies the value of natural resources such as rivers. In South Africa, the legacy of Apartheid coupled with the ecological crisis, fuels vulnerability to climate shock. There is a need for connecting the community to the stewardship of natural resources.

I work through ideas by making photography, writing and drawing. In my Masters and post-Masters, I spent some time studying the matter of the Eerste Rivier. I am interested in how the river overturns social and political boundaries and connects Stellenbosch.

As an artist-ethnographer, I found stories that are illustrative of how the river can orientate and act as a compass for the culture of Stellenbosch.

Kleinood is located on a pristine river in the mountains above the Eerste Rivier. This river flows past Jamestown, through De Zalze’s catchment and into the main channel of the Eerste. In this short journey, like many of the Eerste Rivier tributaries, it crosses many worlds.

During my stay at the Komposjaart, I worked towards the realisation of my project that shows how the river is a common thing through the diverse parts of Stellenbosch and reflects connections.

Trough collecting sound, text, and images from people who live here, I wish to show how people and place are tied together by the river and also joined a larger global system by the river’s connection to the ocean. Using my art, I want to add to the weave of connections and reveal the threads that build connectivity and care in a place.