Nicole, my daughter, had suggested we book for a Saturday lunch picnic at Warwick Estate in Stellenbosch. Warwick Estate is a family-owned and run winery. Stan Ratcliffe purchased Warwick on April 1st 1964 after an extensive search for the best ‘terroir’ in the Cape. Together with his wife Norma, they soon realized the potential of the extraordinary property and began planting Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet Sauvignon vines produced high quality grapes, which were soon in demand from neighbouring wineries. Norma became more and more interested in the making of wine and began to study the subject. Soon a cellar was in place and Norma began producing her own handcrafted wines using the Warwick grapes. In 1984 the first Warwick Cabernet Sauvignon called ‘La Femme Bleu’- the Blue Lady – was released. Norma had a natural talent for making great wines and in 1986 Warwick Trilogy was released, a Bordeaux style blend which has since become a flagship of the South African Wine Industry. Norma is often referred to as ‘The First Lady’ as one of the first woman to make wine in South Africa. Norma is the family matriarch and has been head-winemaker at Warwick since the late 1970’s. The first woman to become a member of the Cape Winemakers Guild and the only woman to serve as Chairperson, she has played a pivotal role in the development of the South African wine industry. With all that great woman power, I was really looking forward to going there and trying their wines as it had been a few years since I had drunk any Warwick wines.
Everyday so far, had been between 27 and 32 C (80 to 84F) and bright sun but this morning, we woke up to a very cool, cloudy and foggy morning. Typical, isn’t it? The one day that we had actually planned an outdoor picnic was the one and one day that announced itself as very iffy, weather wise. But, the picnic was booked, Nicole’s friend, Alex was joining us and we were all set. I packed my big floppy hat in the hope that it would be used for the sun but alas as we set off towards Stellenbosch, the drizzle started. It even turned to rain for a while and I foresaw using my hat as rain protection although I was not sure how well a straw hat would stand up against a shower. The drive to Stellenbosch from Sea Point is about 45 minutes or so and we kept glimpsing bits of blue sky but no sooner had we seen it than the few drops would fall. We arrived at Warwick in time for a tasting before our picnic to a few drops of rain. The tasting was consequently held indoors.
For R35, we had the classic tasting which included 2 whites, an oaked chardonnay, and a sauvignon blanc, a rosé and 3 reds, a cabernet sauvignon, a pinotage and a cape blend. The server threw in the Trilogy, a bordeaux blend and their flagship wine, to make up for the weather. Not bad! All the wines were very good although I did prefer the reds to the whites. Our server was very knowledgeable about the wines, the making, terroir etc and generally enhanced the entire experience. By the time we were finished with the tasting, the skies had cleared and we decided to have the picnic outside as planned. A number of families and couples were already at the various sites, tables, lawns, private pods enjoying their baskets.
Warwick is renowned for their scrumptious picnic baskets, each of which serve 2 people. I chose to order one gourmet and one vegetarian basket. This is the menu. I am salivating just thinking about it.
What a perfect end to a perfect day. Sitting on the balcony, sipping some Graham Beck bubbly and eating takeout pizza.