Greetings from a rather hot Voor Paardeberg

As I write with the air con drumming away, we are in the midst of a mini heatwave, 40 C today, but thankfully predicted to be back to 25 C on Saturday. Life here on Vondeling has been very busy in the last 4 weeks, with masses of orders going out every day, as restaurants and retailers stock up for the Christmas avalanche. If you try and book a table in any of the top restaurants in Cape Town and the Winelands over the holidays now, they are virtually all booked out. I am reliably informed the same goes for Durban and Plettenburg Bay as well. I am pleased to report that you should find Vondeling wines in most of these establishments.

Also we had a terrific evening on 20th November when Bridget, my wife, held a fund raising dinner for the Drakensburg Boys Choir School. It was an absolute sell out and while guests sat down to a 3 course dinner accompanied by delicious Vondeling wines, the boys sang absolutely beautifully. Along with the Vienna Boys Choir School and the Westminster Cathedral Boys School Choir they are regarded as the best in the world! In their 50 year history the “Drakkies” have sung in the Vatican, the White house, Westminster Palace (for the Queen), Nelson Mandela and Vondeling!

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Once again in the past weeks we have had some beautiful brides getting married in the chapel

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Due to the drought we are experiencing here in the Western Cape, we have had to make some radical decisions regarding our Aberdeen Angus Suckler herd. We simply didn’t have enough grazing or feed to see them through the summer, so we sold all the cows and calves with Jack the Bull to a cattle farmer in the Orange Free State. They had a crippling drought there 2 years ago and consequently SA lost 15% of its national herd. They have now had record rains with pastures growing everywhere, but a huge shortage of breeding stock. So our girls have gone to where its wet and green right now with their calves and they will be very happy campers. We will restock again next winter once the rains come (hopefully) and the grass starts growing.  However there was one Oxe who didn’t want to go and he escaped twice while loading. When we tried to catch him a third time he charged the bakkie like a raging bull. See photos below. We have christened him “Headbutt” and he really is a dude! He is roaming all over Vondeling and I think we will have to keep him as a mascot!

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On the wine front we are about to release our 2015 Monsonia, which will takeover as our premium red blend from Erica. Matthew is very excited about this wine, as we all are. It will be released in January 2018. Please see our press release regarding Monsonia below. Also this month Matt conducted some fantastic private wine tasting of old vintages in the barrel store. Please phone to enquire if you might be interested in such a tasting. Highly personalised and an absolute treat for any wine lovers.

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We’re also celebrating our Wine of the Month Club ratings for the 2015 Chardonnay, which was selected as SA’s top Wine Pick in a recent issue of their monthly magazine.

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Hope you all have a fabulous Christmas and New Year and remember to hand out the love in great big dollops to your nearests and dearests.

Finally, anyone you know who may be alone this festive season, get them over for a glass of Vondeling and a bit of festive cheer.

Take care


Julian Johnsen

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The 2015 vintage of Vondeling flagship Rhone-style blend will be celebrating a new species of Paardeberg fynbos with a change in name from Erica to Monsonia. Monsonia speciosa, is a rare and highly endangered flower indigenous to the Paardeberg. The common names include Butterfly Flower, Sambreeltjie, (little umbrella) and Slangblom (snake flower). It’s named after Lady Anne Monson, great grandchild of King Charles II. Controversially, her first marriage was dissolved, due to the birth of an illegitimate child but she soon remarried Colonel George Monson of the Indian Military. She was known as a “remarkable lady botanist” and was instrumental in translating Linnaeus’s famous “Philosophia Botanica”. On her way to Calcutta, she visited the Cape of Good Hope and accompanied seasoned collector of South African plants, Carl Peter Thunberg, on several expeditions around the Cape. In 1774, he named the Monsonia species of plants after her.