{experience} A visit to “Salt of the Earth” Groote Post Vineyards

At my hedonistic core, I’m one for the simplest things in life. Honest experiences, frill-free people, authentic food, quality wines, unpretentious pleasures. The Pentz family at Groote Post Vineyards have perfected the art of true hospitality and have mastered their “salt of the earth” philosophy. We spent a day with them exploring their beautiful homestead, learning more about the uncomplicated ethos behind their award-winning wines; about the pure driving force behind their well-earned successes.

Introduction

Look, let’s not beat around the bush. I’m probably Groote Post Vineyards’ number one fan. Wherever they are, that’s where you’ll find me. I love absolutely everything about this family-run, West Coast wine farm, but most recently, I’ve fallen in love with their “Salt of the Earth:” a Darling Shiraz Cinsault Blend. You can read my review on the Salt of the Earth here.

Only an hour’s drive from Cape Town, the historic Groote Post farm presents a rustic and rural atmosphere with undulating hills, vast open spaces and warm country hospitality. In addition to a wide range of award-winning wines, Hilda’s Kitchen’s superb culinary experience and farm drives through the private game camp and vineyards. Groote Post also offers their ever-popular Country Market from August through April.

For a review on their Country Market, please click here!

When Nick Pentz invited us to spend a Sunday on the farm with them, indulging in all that they had to offer, we excitedly road-tripped up the West Coast, for a day I will very fondly remember for years to come.

Wine tasting with wine maker, Lukas

Our sunny afternoon started off with a private wine tasting with Groote Post wine maker, Lukas Wentzel. Lukas has been winemaker at Groote Post since 2000, having completed his seventh vintage already. His wine-making philosophy is all about balance – from the vine to the bottle.

Lukas invited us into their boardroom and leisurely allowed us to taste our way through their ranges of red and white wines, whilst all the while telling us about the history of the farm, his background and career in wine-making, and the ethos behind the Groote Post label. It was a gorgeously informal tasting; with plenty of time to ask questions, share a few jokes and explore the uniqueness of Groote Post’s “salt of the earth” approach.

With a bottle of Groote Post’s “Salt of the Earth” blend under the arm, Lukas sent us up to Hilda’s Kitchen, where Shaun waited with open arms to wine and dine us.

Lunch at Hilda’s Kitchen

We chose a lovely shaded table in the courtyard for our Sunday lunch. The restaurant was pleasantly full, inside and out, and there was happy chatter and laughter in the air. Shaun and his acclaimed chef wife, Debbie, runs this country-inspired restaurant. Debbie has been the chef at Hilda’s Kitchen for more than 16 years. The food they so proudly serve at Hilda’s echo the “salt of the earth” ethos that runs like a thin red line through all of Groote Post’s ventures. If I’ve ever searched for honest, authentic and unpretentious food, I found all of this at Hilda’s Kitchen, and so much more.

We started with a crispy garden greens and roasted butternut salad, and venison bolognaise croquettes with a basil and tomato sauce. The greens came from their own gardens; the meat from their herd of antelope on the farm. Both starters were incredible. Simply prepared with quality ingredients and a generous sprinkle of ingenuity when it comes to the marriage of flavours and textures.

Shaun paired our menu with a bottle of the Groote Post 2016 Merlot, which he slightly chilled before serving. This full-bodied red was surprisingly juicy with loads of dark berry flavours on the nose and a deeper plum and subtle mint layer on the palate. I found it to be a very versatile red, but then I might just be biased to Merlot…

 

For mains, we went meaty. Grilled leg of lamb served on a bed of polenta, and crispy belly pork with noodles. I’m running out of adjectives to describe the food. No amount of my carefully curated words will do the food complete justice; it was simply that superb. Sincere, truthful, soul-nurturing food, where the fine balance between country wholesomeness and fine dining has very carefully been preserved.

After settling down with our glasses of wine for a bit and taking in the beautiful surroundings, it was time for dessert. A white chocolate cheesecake and a beautiful orange and almond cake left us with a nostalgically sweet aftertaste of our gorgeous afternoon spent in the company of Hilda’s Kitchen.

A quick note: because their menu is seasonal, it changes quite often. Please call ahead to check the current menu.

Flowers and a farm drive with Nick

After lunch, we meandered down to the tasting cellar, where Nick was waiting on us in the game drive vehicle. After friendly introductions and a quick explanation of the plans for the rest of the afternoon, he packed us up in the open-top vehicle for a drive around the farm. We were hoping to spot some of the Groote Post’s game herds as well as patches of West Coast flowers in the late afternoon sun.

We quickly found a patch of white daisies, which resembles snow on a mountain top; from there the name of their “Kapokberg” range of estate wines. After a quick photo shoot, we continued on our drive and were lucky to see a big herd of eland, all three giraffes and also Groote Post’s stunning herd of Nguni cattle lazily grazing the fields.

We moved further up the farm to where all the crop fields and vineyards are. We stopped regularly, and Nick gave us lessons in agriculture and the uses of the different types of crops they grow, including lucerne (for animal feed), canola (for oil) and other grains. I was childishly excited when we stopped at the butter-yellow canola field and we could actually walk into the field for a photo-shoot! The late afternoon light was perfectly golden and the surroundings lit up to its full glory by the setting sun.

We wound our way up the mountain until we pretty much parked the vehicle between the vines, overlooking Groote Post at our feet. It was here that Nick unpacked a table, an ice-cold bottle of Brut Rosé MCC and a cheese platter. We clinked our glasses as the sun started to crawl behind the mountains, and spoke about food, wine, family, inspirations, tribulations and all things life. We admired the new growth on the vines and took a few deep breaths of the pure, unpolluted air as the day drew to a close.

Reluctant to leave, Nick took out a couple of blankets and we settled back into the vehicle for the drive down to the estate.

In conclusion

To say Groote Post is “just another wine farm” would be the furthest thing from the truth. Groote Post is an experience; meant to be felt, lived, savoured, remembered. They do “salt of the earth” right. Authentic and sincere hospitality, uncomplicated philosophies around their food and wine, consistent, top-quality produce and always, always a friendly smile or two to share freely. They’re never too busy to stop and chat; never too overwhelmed to answer questions, never too involved to just stop and enjoy the simple things in life.

Do yourself a favour; indulge your soul for a day and head out to Groote Post for an absolute experience. Bring the family. Bring your big city problems and let the sea breeze and salty air clear your head for a few hours. Come be wrapped up in real West Coast hospitality and nurture your hungry heart with a gorgeous meal at Hilda’s Kitchen. Come taste some award-winning wine in a comforting and intimate space. Just come. Groote Post will be waiting with open arms to receive you.

For the sake of the word-count of this blog, I’ve done my review on their Salt of the Earth red blend in a separate entry. For the blog, please click here!

Second photographer and photo credit: Timothy P. Gibson

The Little Hedonist has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, I do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, menu changes, opening times, and contact details.

Disclaimer: I was invited to this event in my capacity as photographer/writer as part of a media outreach. There was no expectation for platform coverage in the form of a blog, or social media posts. This is my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated/credited, are also my own.

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