IT began with me being tagged in an Instagram post by Kim Katzke of Homestead Serendipity in Montagu. She’d eaten at the brand spanking new Kapokbos restaurant at Weltevrede in Bonnievale, and urged me to visit “when I was in the area” which I was (spending a long weekend in McGregor), so I went.
Kapokbos is about two months old now, and run by husband and wife team Sam Morris-Fourie and Jean Fourie, who have a fine dining and private cheffing background. I was delighted to find pastilla on the menu, a sweet and savoury Moroccan dish I’ve always wanted to try. They do it with chicken, because South Africans who are not me are simply not ready for pigeon. The pork belly with whipped potato was outstanding. The bread that was served at the beginning of the meal was garnished with kapokbos, which is wild rosemary, and smells the same as the rosemary with which we are all more familiar, so I’m glad the waiter pointed it out to me.
The name of the plant refers to the white fluffy fruiting heads that cover the bush, giving the plant the appearance of being covered in snow. It has many medicinal applications, from soothing headaches to relieving muscle spasms. Its antiseptic and antiviral properties protect the body against infections, and is good for colds and flatulence. Now you know. During World War 2, Lindelize’s (wife of Philip Jonker, owners of Weltevrede) grandfather Maurice was a POW. Care packages could be sent but they had to be light. Sita, Lindelize’s granny filled a small cushion with the fluffy kapokbos seed; with its pungent aroma, the pillow was gratefully received by Maurice as a reminder of the veld. The pillow was passed around between the Karoo farmers in the concentration camp who took turns to sleep with it and dream of home.
While I was there, I visited the MCC and Chardonnay tasting room where you can take a tour of the underground cellars, and put the finishing touches to your own bottle of bubbly, disgorging, corking and labelling it. Bottles are still hand-riddled at Weltevrede, a detail I find endearing. Here is some more information about this, from a press release (a few more pics of my experience are on my Instagram).
The Breede River Valley’s pioneering Weltevrede Wine Estate has taken a major step in its evolution following the extensive re-development of the farm’s visitor experiences. Already well-known to wine-lovers from around the world, the visitor centre now provides deeper context of the farm’s place in history while highlighting a heritage of winemaking excellence.
The transformation applies on several fronts. It incorporates a luxuriously appointed, double-volume reception hall; refreshed and expanded underground exhibition and wine tasting rooms; and an expansive, landscaped rose-and-vine garden. New visitor tours give individual expression to the dual pillars on which Weltevrede’s reputation now rests: Chardonnay, which has thrived here thanks to a regional concentration of limestone soils; and, Cap Classique.
The changes flow from a focused strategy that can only begin and end with wine. “My vision for the wines of Weltevrede is to be a pure expression of terroir in which it is rooted,” says Philip Jonker, fourth generation winemaker-proprietor. “Our wines should have personality dictated by the soil. It should have a sense of place.”
A glimpse of this special 100ha estate on the outskirts of Bonnievale was first offered to visitors in the 1970s by Philip’s father, Lourens, who had taken over from his father. While the Jonker Family has been farming since 1912, the first wines were made under the Weltevrede label in the 1940s, it was Lourens who first opened a tasting room on the farm. He was first in the region to do so, too.
Years later, when production switched to modern methods, old concrete wine tanks were re-purposed as a rustic, candlelit tasting room. The experience quickly became a hallmark reflecting Weltevrede’s special blend of poetic art and scientific rigor. It was essential this be retained when change came.
Now, the reception hall serves as the departure point for the tours. Visitors are guided through the underground network. Candles and muted lighting retain the hallowed ambience. Each underground tour takes two hours to complete and includes wine tasting. Create Cap Classique includes an interactive experience where visitors can disgorge, dosage, cork, foil and label their own Cap Classique bottle. Tours may be taken consecutively.
More subtle but no less important changes that affirm Weltevrede’s core values have also been instituted. Among them, the addition to the label of every bottle of Weltevrede Chardonnay of the names of workers who helped make it a reality. Architectural features such as the egg-shaped entrance to reception and subterranean rooms speak of varied themes related to care, fertility, and innovation. Old vines preserved since the days of Weltevrede’s founders have been replanted on pedestals alongside the rose garden to reflect heritage.
- Captivated by Cap Classique Underground Tour is R250pp and available Mondays to Saturdays at 10am (2 hours). Reservations advised.
- Captivated by Chardonnay Underground Tour is R250pp and is available Mondays to Saturdays at 2pm (2 hours). Reservations advised.
- Create Cap Classique is R200 per bottle; an interactive experience where visitors can disgorge, dosage, cork, foil and label their own Cap Classique bottle (30 minutes). Available Mondays to Fridays from 8am to 5pm and Saturdays from 9am to 3.30pm.
For more information, click here, email [email protected] or call 023 616 2141. Weltevrede wines are available for purchase from the estate website as well as selected wine specialists and restaurants countrywide, and the two tasting rooms at the farm. Follow Weltevrede on Instagram and Facebook @WeltevredeWines and Twitter @_Weltevrede.
PHOTO CREDIT: Bianca Coleman ©