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I left a small piece of my heart in South Africa

Head Sommelier Daniel Jonberger reflects on his recent visit to South Africa... 

After around sixteen hours of travel from my home to Cape Town in South Africa, I found myself sitting in a beautiful room at Spier Vineyard and tasting around 20 wines. This is a new form of jet lag for me. It felt quite surreal; and this was just the beginning of a wonderful five days in Stellenbosch. Some of my travelling companions were from very prestigious restaurant chains, managing directors and prominent buyers, so I was definitely the odd one out.

I was, as always, on the hunt for distinctive wines in small parcels. Wines that they didn’t export because of the small number of bottles made. Well, until I arrived. We visited seven Vineyards in five days and tried in excess of 200 different wines. Everyone at Rockliffe Hall had told me how this was the perfect holiday. I tend to disagree. I am Immensely proud to represent Rockliffe Hall on these trips and I am always in the hunt for a ‘find’, but to taste so many wines in few days takes some endurance, especially when the first tasting of the day always started immediately after breakfast. I never complain, as I always learn so much and get ideas that I am able to bring back and implement here in The Orangery.

What struck me on this trip in particular, was the huge diversity of each of the Vineyards. Everything from the philosophy to the bottling of the wine. All Vineyards had their own unique ways of producing some fantastic wines. And yes, I still feel very humbled of been able to try some exceptional bottles of wine during the trip. All Vineyards, I noticed, do incredible charity work in their local community. It is something they all feel very strongly about and it is beautiful to see how these fine places are really helping immensely to provide a better standard for the community.

After a whirlwind of almost speed dating wine tastings and meeting so many inspirational people, we were heading home. My head full of so much new knowledge and admiration for the work these Vineyards do, I realised that I left a piece of my heart in South Africa.

A huge thank you to: Spier Vineyard, Creation Wines, Springfield Estate, Graham Beck Winery, Stellenrust, Journeys End and Steenberg Winery.

I am looking forward to the ‘special parcels’ arriving soon from your Vineyards.