Tel: 023 344 3107
Facebook link: Mountain Oaks
Its always wonderful to discover a previously unknown gem by total accident. A few weeks ago I had offered to give someone a lift from Cape Town to a retreat near Worcester. It is not often I get out that way, so I thought I would make the trip more worthwhile by visiting a few of the wine farms in the nearby beautiful Slanghoek Valley. All in the name of research you understand…
Low and behold if I did not stumble upon the perfect example of what an organic vineyard should be…boutique, eye-wateringly picturesque with some delicious, great value for money wines to be found – Mountain Oaks Organic Winery.
It is situated on an old Cape Dutch farm, Eikenbosch, on the Breedekloof wine route. The farm was established in the late 1700s by a Pieter Du Toit,
after whom the Du Toitskloof pass is named, where he kept his cattle. From there a settlement was built, and a farm was developed.
The original Cape Dutch house still remains and over the last decade or so stables, storehouses and the wine
cellar have been added. The name derives from the ancient oak trees which are dotted
around the farm…they are truly magnificent to behold.
Christine Stevens…who is the owner, winemaker and cellarmaster has been producing organic wines since 2003 and for the last five years most of their wines have been awarded a Four Star rating in the John Platter Guide. In 2010 their Chenin Blanc 2005 was selected for the Nederberg Auction. Much of their wine is exported to Europe(as is sadly the case for most organic wineries in SA). Locally, wines are distributed direct from the cellar to top restaurants and hotels.
The vineyards are the main crop on the farm and total about 16 hectares which produce 20-30,000 bottles of wine per harvest. Their wines are crafted in the traditional time honoured manner…no commercial yeasts are added and wines are matured, bottle aged and only released when ready to drink.
Wines currently available are:
- Mountain Oaks Pinotage 08
- Mountain Oaks Chardonnay 08
- Mountain Oaks Eikenbosch Red Blend 06
- Mountain Oaks Rose 2011
- Mountain oaks Vintage Eikenbosch White 05
All ranging in price from R35 for the rose to R90 for the flagship Red Blend…very good value for organic wines of this quality.
I have tasted them all and they are seriously juicy, earthy, finely crafted wines…just the way a good organic wine should be. The whites which are 4 years and older are drinking amazingly well right now(including the Eikenbosch White 2005!)
Many of the wines are occasional releases and so you will find a variety of vintages available on the farm.
They were one of the first wineries in the Cape to be certified organic, an ethos which impacts on all facets of farming activity. They make all their own compost, do not irrigate their vineyards and propagate companion plants to enhance the health of the various crops grown on the farm.
The owners aim for the farm is to be as self sustainable as possible and in this regard various fruit orchards, vegetable gardens, olives and even almonds(the almond honey for sale at the farm stall is a unique and delicious discovery) have been planted around the farm to add diversification.
There is a herd of Jersey cows, some sheep, various horses from Shire Horses to Welsh Mountain Ponies as well as ducks and chickens. All the above are used to supply the owners and the farm stall(see below) with organic produce on a daily basis.
Christine also hosts a farm stall on Thursday of each week where organic produce from the farm as well as from the farms in the surrounding area is sold to patrons fortunate enough to know about (or stumble upon) this tucked away paradise.
This includes, inter alia, such delicious items as:
- unpasteurised milk from the Jersey Cows
- Almond honey…I can truly say the most delicious honey I have ever tasted…the bee hives are located in the almond grove.
- a variety of fruit and vegetables which change on a weekly basis depending on what is available at the time
- Scrumptious country style breads from a neighbouring bakery
- Homemade jams, pickles, olive oils etc…all made in the valley
These products can be viewed and purchased all the while tasting the farm’s delicious wines…a serious treat indeed.
Christine, who not only looks after every facet of the farm and it’s winemaking, has also found the time to write and publish 2 books about organic farming which are available from various bookstores. They are:
- “Harvest“…a book about organic food with a variety of recipes and
- “Harvest Diaries“…which depicts the idyllic life of a year of food and wine on an organic farm. The book is divided into 12 chapters…1 for each month of the year and includes seasonal recipes using produce from the farm.
The uniqueness and beauty of Eikenbosch farm and Mountain Oaks wines makes the Slanghoek Valley a truly wonderful place to spend a relaxing day exploring its many varied charms…and its only an hours drive from Cape Town!
I am pleased to be able to offer a hamper of 3 different bottles of Mountain Oaks organic wine plus a copy of the book, “Harvest Diaries” to the reader who answers the following question correctly…
On what day of the week does Mountain Oaks open a farm stall on the premises?
Remember only subscribers can take part…so if you would like to win this prize sign up here
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Current subscribers can email the answer directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Entries close at midnight on Monday 3 September 2012
All photos once again courtesy of the lovely Bellananda.
Happy, healthy and conscious living to you all.