We’re all trying to navigate our way through the national #lockdown without a glass of wine in hand and winter steadily on its way. Some days, I simply can’t help to lose myself in the daydream of Muratie Wine Estate‘s Harvest Festival earlier this year.
I’ve found it difficult to write about wine these last few weeks. Mostly because of the dire situation our wine industry has been placed in as part of the national #lockdown measures to combat the current COVID-19 pandemic.
I’ve spent many days, weeks, trying to think through how to approach this situation that reminds a lot of writer’s block, as people’s outcries for wine becomes more desperate by the day on social media. We want to support our crippled economy, our beloved vineyards and estates, our friends in wine. But there’s not much we can do at this ground-shifting period in time, other than wait.
Reminiscing and reminding
The one thing I can do, however, is to remind people of what we have, and of what we will get again at the end of this dark tunnel. I will remind people of their beloved wine estates, of their favourite bottles and of those they still want to taste, so that we can help to build up our fast-dwindling wine collections after lock-down and support an industry that entirely depends on our buy-in.
It’s not all about the wine, don’t get me wrong. It’s about South African citizens’ livelihoods, from the farmer to the farm worker. It’s about a sector of our economy that produces a large part of our country’s financial income and is the solid foundation of our flourishing tourism industry. It’s about so much more than the wine, but this is what I choose to write about.
During the last few weeks, I find myself often back at Muratie Wine Estate‘s Harvest Festival. The one day in my social diary I’ll clear when the invitation lands in my inbox, regardless of its prior commitments . So, to remind you (and myself!) of what is waiting for us when this is all over, a little recount of a stunningly warm day at Muratie, celebrating the little thing called life.
Pulling up to the oasis that is Muratie Wine Estate early on a bright Saturday morning, I could see that the festivities were already starting to warm up. I eagerly jumped out of the car, sunhat and sunglasses in hand, and couldn’t get to our beautifully laid out media table fast enough.
I have a tendency to romanticise certain memories as I tuck it away in the storage banks of my mind, but the annual Muratie Harvest Festival is everything I could ever ask for. This year again, it was a relaxed day under the oaks, surrounded by friends, new faces, stunning wines, great food and jazzy tunes.
After a round of hello’s and hugs, we met up with friends new and old and sat down for a nibble in the shade of the oaks. Our media table was filling up fast and it was lovely to connect with our fellow vino’s and their families. Having missed out on the formal wine tasting last year, The Tall Hedonist and I made our way to Muratie’s hauntingly picturesque tasting room, deep within the cool confines of the thick old cellar walls.
We spent a leisurely couple of hours in the company of the old cellar, tasting our way through Muratie’s offerings and taking in the historically beautiful surroundings. Muratie’s tasting room must be one of my absolute favourite venues to photograph.
We ventured back into the sun with a few bottles under our arms, including their limited edition, unlabelled Mr. May Grenache Noir 2017, the intensely flavourful Sauvignon Blanc and the Isabella Chardonnay.
- Standard Tasting: R60 per person
- Premium Tasting: R95 per person
- Chocolate Pairing Experience: R80 per person
- Groups by appointment only
Through the grape (wine) and up the hill
Two activities we never miss, is the grape stomping and the tractor ride. Put some effort into your stomping steps and you could win a bottle of wine for your effort! It’s really one of those childishly fun activities that leaves you giggling as the grapes squish between your toes. At the same time, it’s pretty awesome to know that you played a small part in the process.
Saartjie the German Shepherd (literally!) had a blast of a time as stompers rinsed their feet after the grape dance, enjoying the cool reprieve of the hosepipe as the day drew hotter.
Before lunch, we topped up our glasses with icy Chardonnay and headed for the tractor. Indulging in a gentle (albeit sometimes exhiliratingly rocky!) trailer meander with incredible views over the farm and surrounding valley is a good way to build up the appetite. Hopping off after the slow ride, we felt gorgeously overloaded with sunshine and fresh air.
Chandeliers and music
Peeking our heads into the working cellar, we found winemaker, Hattingh de Villiers, crushing grapes for the 2021 vintage of Muratie’s Cabernet Sauvignon. The uber-modern cellar was illuminated by the sparkling light of the crystal chandelier that hangs from the high ceiling. An incredibly striking addition to what is usually considered a “behind-the-scenes” working area.
We headed upstairs for a chat and before long, Hattingh made us swap our wine glasses for an intense crushing session. Tim thoroughly enjoyed this strenuous activity, turning and airing the must in the fermentation containers with a rather humble looking metal pole. I much rather chose to lose myself in a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and the juxtaposed popular music playing in the background.
The rest of the day passed slowly and luxuriously as we chatted, wined and dined under the ancient oaks. I feel at ease at Muratie; I feel like family – there’s not a lot of places that give me this kind of peace and comfort. Spending time at Muratie is like being enveloped in a giant, lingering hug.
When we reluctantly had to say goodbye and go our separate ways, our departure was not tinged with sadness. In fact, it was filled with excitement and anticipation, because I know we’ll get to do this all over again next year.
A massive thank you to the incredibly generous Melck family for allowing us to celebrate the year’s harvest with them at their home, and for offering us all a place of tranquility and reprieve.
Second photographer and photo credit: The Tall Hedonist, aka Timothy P. Gibson
Disclaimer: I was invited to this event in my personal capacity. 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.