It is with a new appreciation for wine that I sit today and savor my glass of Cabernet!
On Thursday we were invited to the Harvest Day celebrations at Ormonde situated on tranquil grounds in the small West Coast town of Darling. As usual, no expense was spared to make the day a thoroughly enjoyable one for all. Owner, Theo Basson, his wife and marketing team went all out to ensure that we enjoyed the best they have on offer.
The day started with harvesting of the Cabernet Franc grapes. We were, naturally, no match for the speed with which the farm workers did their bit. Honestly, I don’t see how the workers manage to do it for the entire harvest! After only about half and hour my back was in agony and I knew that there was no way I could do this for a full day, let alone a month of harvesting! They move through the vineyards like hungry locusts and not a minute went by without hearing one of them shout “Mandjie!”. Nosifwe, or Goggo as everyone knows her, especially worked with more passion than I have ever seen. Her voice and laughter rang across the vineyards more than any of the others and it thus came as no surprise to learn she had the most tokens. The Basson family culture of looking after their staff became evident when speaking to the workers. The workers are all happy, friendly and eager to work.
It is said that the Basson’s are not very popular with the other farms in the area due to their “monopoly” of the work force. I say well done. They pay excellent wages and rewards and bonuses are put on the table on a regular basis. For every basket of grapes harvested, for instance, they are rewarded with a token. These tokens can then be exchanged for goods at the farm shop. They offer free transport for the workers and have a creche for the children. The fact that they have workers from as far as Calvinia and that they had no striking workers during the wage protests are testament to the respect they show the workers.
After the harvest we were taken to the cellar where we could see the grapes we had harvested being processed. Wine maker, Michiel, also gave a taste of the Sauvignon Blanc mush, straight from the tank, and I must say I really enjoyed that! The most fun, however, was the stomping of the grapes! It is something which holds such an old world charm and I’ve always wanted to do it. If ever you have the opportunity, kick of your shoes, wash your feet and jump right in! I certainly can’t wait to receive my bottle of wine, stomped with my own two feet!
The day came to an end with a beautiful lunch at the tasting room. We were treated to salads, roast veggies and lamb spit! Yummy! Of course, there was an endless supply of their award winning wines. I particularly enjoyed the Ondine Chenin and Ormonde Pinot Noir. After lunch we enjoyed desert in the lush gardens. The desert set out was a perfect pick: a chocolate mousse pecan pie served with their Pinot Noir ice-cream. I can’t wait to get my hands on more of this delectable treat!
By the time it was over I had no inclination to leave. I would much rather have opened up another bottle of Pinot Noir, settle into a hammock under shade of the old trees and watch the sunset. Instead, we got into the car with our wine gift packs and tackled the long road home.
After having seen, and taken (a small) part in the process, I will gladly pay the asking price for a good bottle of wine!
I am so grateful for all the time and effort put in by the farm workers and estate owners, just in order for us to sit at home and enjoy their offerings.
Thank you to all involved, it was a day I will never forget!
Also published on http://www.wine-sa.com