the crew having lunch at SIT

In January this year, two Gauteng pack members (it doesn’t quite have the same ring as Vaalies), Amanda and I (label designer Lori)  flew down for a gathering of the pack. We had a lot to discuss, from new websites to social media strategies, to future events.

Emma had quite efficiently set up an agenda for the entire week and we were kept hopping!

We hit the ground running with a mad dash from Cape Town to the Graylink/litmus digital offices where pack member Carl made our brains hurt while we talked through our brand direction and site map for the new website. Having come away with a good idea of where we needed to go in terms of telling our story and spreading the wine, wanderings and wild dogs word, we finally got to Paarl and collapsed into overheated heaps.

One of the worst aspects of flying into the Western Cape was to see how drying the landscape looked. And the wild fires that were springing up all over the place, fueled by the ultra dry drought conditions. One of the things we would do in the evenings, was stand on the deck and track the fires on the other side of the valley and pray that they would be contained.

Day 2 saw us all at the cellars at Koopmanskloof, waiting for the mobile bottling unit to arrive as we were about to bottle our new Pictus white blend, Pictus V (see picture above). They arrived and very efficiently sorted out 5000 bottles of this wine, while I did a little happy dance, because one of my paintings would adorn them once we got around to labelling.

We toddled back to Paarl to visit the site of our new offices and future tasting room, and have lunch at SIT on main street.

KKNK weird and wonderful tasting test

Afternoon “tea”  took the form of Martinque testing out her weird and wonderful tastings on us for KKNK. We tasted, considered, voted and also made suggestions.

Day 3 involved a crack of dawn departure for Kasteelsig to inspect the vines. We surprised a steenbok which was hiding in the mulch under the vines. We stopped off at Swartland cellars and then travelled to Perdeberg and Agter Paarl to check more grapes on the Leeuwenkuil Farm.

The steenbok under the vines

After all the grape checking, it was off to Stellenbosch for a light lunch and grape check of a different kind at Brampton wines.  We later did a food and wine pairing at Villiera. This was a way to see how two different wineries handle their tasting venues, and decide how we are going to handle ours once we get it open.

On the way back to Paarl, we were treated to a visit to Dalewood farm. They make the most fantastic cheese. In fact, Jeremy likes their Huguenot cheese so much he recommends it as a pairing for the Paarl Roussanne. Having tasted it at the farm shop, I had to agree, which means Amanda and I will be flying back to Jozi with cheese tucked into every spare corner of our bags.

Day 4 saw us stop running and sit down to discuss all the information we had gathered during the week. This was very productive as it gave us a little breathing space to consider everything. Marthie from Rotolabel popped in so that we could discuss the Pictus V label paper and print processes with her.

Paarl valley from the slopes of Paarl mountain

Jeremy took the Vaalies for a hike up Paarl mountain to see the views. The walk through the forested areas of the mountain were quite scary as we could see that the mast on the forest floor was thick and tinder dry.

The team was then treated to dinner at Noop on main street Paarl, which was delicious!

Day 5 involved a quick review, a goodbye to Carmen and Martinique from the Jozi gals as they headed off to the airport and home to a much greener north.