Ommiberg 2017 takes place this Saturday, 4 March. If you’re unsure of whether to attend, or haven’t heard about the festival before, I’ve got the inside info on what to expect from this year’s 10th year edition. Last week, I was lucky enough to attend an Ommiberg media day on behalf of Kitchen, where I was given an exclusive taste (literally and figuratively) of what Saturday’s celebrations will entail.
Our sneak peek experience began at Mellasat, which is a breathtakingly beautiful farm complete with gravel road drive-up, well-kept horses, and quaint garden character. Mellasat is the home of South Africa’s first white pinotage, which I was giddy with excitement to taste for the first time. And let me tell, it’s a complete mind trip considering it LOOKS like white wine, but TASTES like red. Mellasat’s white pinotage will be available for tasting this Saturday.
Whilst contemplating that anomaly, we set off for Calais, which was probably my favourite farm of the day. Every aspect of the farm, from its wines, to its emblem are rich in meaning and symbolism. Each wine we tasted had a special heartfelt story. For instance, Calais’ St Mikael Cabernet Sauvignon was named after the owner’s grandfather who longed to see his family return to farming, but died before he got a chance to visit Calais and see his wish become reality. Another of their wines called Applause, was named after the owner’s dog, while the parrot on the estate’s emblem is a tongue-in-cheek take on the traditional eagle crest. A visit to Calais is like stepping into a story book, and the owners are more than willing to share their stories with you.
It’s also at Calais where we got to speak to brave volunteer fire fighters who form part of the community fire watch in Paarl. These volunteers immediately assist farmers when farms catch ablaze, ensuring fires don’t spread. This is imperative considering most farmers will first attempt to put out a fire themselves before having to call in expensive emergency services. However, by this time, it’s unfortunately too little too late, and the farm, plus it’s neighboring farm usually have to be evacuated. Such was the case when Calais’ own manor house burned down during the recent fires that ravaged most of Paarl.
The devastation caused by these fires was most notable at Druk My Niet, which was our next stop. Viticulturist, and winemaker, Alex has only been at the farm for six months, and has had to deal with the loss of most her vines. Druk My Niet is THEE place for red wine lovers. And Alex prides herself on making reds for a niche palate. She states that a Druk My Niet red isn’t necessarily made for the commercial market, and it’s okay if you don’t really like their offerings. However, they certainly have a new fan in me! Their Cabernet Sauvignon is smoother and more luxurious than any I’ve ever tasted, and their T3 mediterranean blend of Tempranillo, Tannat, and Tinta Amarella is a rich and unique experience.
Toeka Stoor was our next destination, and it has to be the quirkiest wine farm I’ve ever visited. Their selection of bric-a-brac and antiques is exceptional, so if you’re a vintage fanatic, GET THERE NOW! The owner is said to be slightly obsessed with tractors, which is immediately evident considering the actual vintage tractor situated in the restaurant, as well as the general motor paraphernalia mounted on the walls. I cannot wait to return to Toeka Stoor for a rustic farm-style lunch.
Perdeberg with its sophisticated elegance was quite the departure from Toeka Stoor’s eccentricity. It was here that we took part in an educating wine quiz or “Gustation Tasting Challenge” with delightful prizes up for grabs, and were treated to expertly curated cheese and meat platters served with the freshest bread. It was interesting to learn about Perdeberg’s recently launched and acclaimed Dry Land range which showcases grapes grown in dry and testing terroir. Because of this, these vines were in no way affected by drought or fire, showing true foresight by Perdeberg’s winemakers.