Franschhoek Wine Valley

Tag Archive: La Motte Hiking TRail

  1. Nearing the end of harvest 2020

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    With the harvest nearing completion it’s been interesting to receive feedback from some of the Vignerons. Although the temperatures have been quite extreme, the winemakers have been happy with the quality of the fruit. The weather has been advantageous for the ripening factors, and their outlook is positive as they remain hopeful that this harvest will result in excellent wines. 

    Photo by Alfred Thorpe

    We chatted to some of our Vignerons to get their responses on this year’s harvest:

    “The quality of the white wines in the cellar were extremely good with great acidity throughout. I was actually quite surprised as I thought the intense high temperatures would have had a negative effect on the acids. The flavours were intense with the only downside being that all the white varietals were ready for picking at the same time. We feel confident in that with the correct viticultural approach the red cultivars will be an excellent vintage,“ says GlenWood Cellar Master DP Burger.

    DP Burger

    Mark van Buuren, winemaker at Anthonij Rupert Wyne for their white wines in the Protea, Terra del Capo and Cape of Good Hope ranges as well as the Jean Roi Rosé had the following to say about this year’s harvest: “It’s been a ‘strange’ summer, with some really hot days, and then some very cold wintery conditions as well as heavy rainfall. The ripening period has been spread out nicely, and there wasn’t the mad rush we experienced last year, which has allowed us to take a bit more time about things. Although it’s still too early to predict my favourite I am positive that our varietals across the portfolio will be superb.”

    Mark van Buuren

    According to Irene de Fleuriot who heads up the winemaking team at La Bri, it’s been a fantastic harvest to date, and the weather on the farm has really played along favourably. Although their yield is slightly down the quality is outstanding. The heat has definitely had an effect, causing high Malic levels, but she’s confident that they will be able to manage these accordingly. The white wines came in at lower sugars and perfectly ripe, which is a bonus. Next to come in from the vineyards is their young block of Cabernet Sauvignon, which she’s extremely optimistic about. 

    Irene de Fleuriot

    Closer to the village is where you’ll find Le Lude, which is home to winemaker Emma Bruwer and her team who have also been busy in the vineyards since beginning January, which is the earliest they have ever started. After a cool December they were able to pick grapes at their optimal ripeness with beautiful acidities and structure. The cool weather and chilly evenings slowed down the ripening process of the grapes and allowed the sugars to increase steadily. This in turn preserved the acidity in the grapes which is so important for Cap Classique’s. They managed to pick a total of 196 tons of which 113 tons were form various producers in Franschhoek. The unseasonal rains at the end of January slowed down production a bit, but not too long as they were able to finish with all their pickings by 30 January. Currently they have just a few more tanks finishing up their fermentations, and she’s excited to taste the base wines once they’re ready. Although it’s difficult to say which wines she’s most excited about, she’s confident that their vintage wines will definitely stand out.

    Emma Bruwer

    “On trend with the bigger industry, we started the La Motte harvest one week earlier than in 2019. In our case on 14 January with Pinot Noir for the La Motte Méthode Cap Classique,” says Cellarmaster Edmund Terblanche. With the focus currently on Sauvignon Blanc, he reports that their volumes from the Franschhoek property are currently 100% up on the same time last year. He expects the alcohol to be lower and is happy to report healthy grapes with fresh and lively flavours. “With February heat kicking in, it’s important to carefully monitor ripening and ensure all the hard work done in the vineyards is honoured during the harvesting and winemaking processes. After the January rain, the season is dry again and we don’t have exceptional challenges with the harvest. We expect all the whites to be finished by end of next week. Volume-wise the reds are also currently more than the expectation. I am very happy with colour, analyses and flavours. The grapes are ripening gradually without putting us under too much pressure,” adds Edmund.

    Edmund Terblanche

    With most of the hard work out of the way it’s now a waiting game to see what the end result produces, and we’re confident that our winemaking teams will once again produce world-class wines. We wish them all of them best in this final stretch. 

  2. Twenty-four Adventurous Hours in Franschhoek

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    An article by Alfred Thorpe

    Nothing slows down and as we enter 2020 life just gets busier. A weekend away is a luxury and finding a suitable time in busy schedules can be difficult. My wife and I decided that one night away is better than nothing.  Twenty-fours hours might not sound like a lot but you can squeeze in lots of adventure, food and wine when you plan ahead. A day in Franschhoek is never enough, so we decided to head out there.

    Franschhoek village

    If you head to Franschhoek, try and access it via one of the passes. The Franschhoek pass might be a bit of a drive  but views from Helshoogte pass is just as rewarding, as you drop down into the valley with the sun rising over the mountains. The valley welcomed us with cooler, windy weather as we arrived on the Saturday morning. La Motte was our first stop and needs no introduction as winery but what you may not know is that there is a beautiful 5km hiking route that you can do.

    La Motte Wine Estate

    As the gates opened at 9am we grabbed our maps and headed up the mountain. This is not an easy stroll so take water and closed shoes with you. Some sections of the trail are technical and you would not enjoy it in a pair of flip flops. After 1.5km of walking you will be surrounded by a wide variety of indigenous fynbos.

    La Motte Hiking Trail

    The route follows the contour for about 2km as the Franschhoek valley reveals itself from this unique view, as sunlight rolls down the hills and chases shadows into the Elephant’s Corner*. 

    This hike will take you two to three hours to complete but don’t rush back as soon as you are down in the vineyards. If you know where you are on the map, you will be able to locate the buchu plantation. Stop and smell the leaves of this medicinal plant before you head back to the restaurant for a light lunch and a chilled glass of La Motte wine.

    La Motte Wine Estate

    The Franschhoek Wine Tram needs no introduction but you might not be familiar with their guided walking tours. The main road is not long but I think we are all guilty of looking for a parking spot and heading to the closest shop or restaurant, without paying attention to the detail. On foot you will be able to explore the finer detail of the architecture and learn more about the rich history of Elephant’s Corner when doing it with a knowledgeable and qualified guide.

    Not only did our guide (Sikanyiso Tshaya) share his knowledge about every unique building we passed. He also treated us to a chocolate tasting at Huguenot Fine Chocolates and we saw how truffles were made.

    Huguenot Fine Chocolates

    This experience is not just for the sweet tooth, as their dark chocolates are really good. And while you are there, you have to try the latest trend, called ruby chocolate. 

    After an early start and being active all day, we headed to our hotel for the evening. We were welcomed by horses in a picture perfect setting, with white picket fences and lush green fields. The Mont Rochelle Hotel surpassed every expectation I had of it. Our spacious suite with a private pool overlooking the Franschhoek valley was phenomenal. There were a significant amount of small details that made us feel special. We were tempted to lock ourselves in our suite, drink champagne and drink the views over the valley. But we only had 24 hours and so much more to explore.

    Mont Rochelle

    Each lounge in the hotel is uniquely decorated, with a different feel to it. I could see how you could spend hours on end at the hotel, just reading a book and enjoying a glass of wine. But those who know me probably know that sitting still is not a strength of mine. I do however sit still for a while when food is getting served. The Miko restaurant overlooks the valley and you could just stare out of the window for hours, as the sun was setting, with clouds rolling in over the mountains.

    Service was swift and we tried slowing them down, as we wanted to savour every taste. We enjoyed a bottle of Mont Rochelle wine with our meal and continued drinking their wine the next day, as we just could not miss out on this tasting experience.

    For me personally the highlight of our stay was the staff at Mont Rochelle. I believe that people, not things, is what sets one hotel apart from the rest. It was not just the friendly and helpful manner that they engaged with us but an authentic and honest way of connecting and caring. 

    Running with a buddy on Sunday morning meant an early start. Tagging a peak at the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve was voted out, as the mountain peaks were completely overcast and extra windy. Instead we stopped at Hey Joe Brewing Company and headed out with my two golden running buddies and a friend.

    The Matoppie peak next to the Berg river dam is an accessible and fun playground for trail runners and mountain bikers. There is a great variety of jeep track and single track and you can choose to stick to the lower contours along the dam or get your heartrate up, crossing contours to the top. Be sure to take water with you, as there’s not a lot of flowing water on this “koppie”.

    After a post run breakfast and an ample amount of coffee back at the restaurant, we went to Hey Joe Brewing Company for a tour of this interesting new brewery. The main feature is a copper kettle that was built in 1961 in Belguim. The whole building is a beautiful blend between old and new. In contrast with their old and shiny copper kettle, the rest of their brewing operations get managed with state of the art computers with touch screens. An old cement mixer, that was used during the building process, was converted to the fireplace. Stained glass windows add to that old feeling in a new building. The whole process was really well thought through. We spent the day inside, drinking lager and eating bitterballen but the lawns outside is perfect for families. This venue is going to be the place to be this year.

    Hey Joe Brewing Co.

    We ran out of time quicker than expected. There is just so much to do and twenty four hours in Franschhoek will fly by when you visit. I will be back for more adventures soon, as there are still a few peaks to tag in the area. I might even get back on my mountain bike, as there is as much to explore on bike. Cheers to cold beers and more adventures in 2020.