Newsletter from Pietman Retief - May 2013

It is now the end of summer, the end of harvesting the grapes, and of course also the end of our guests for the 2012/13 season.

I've been fortunate once again to host many exciting and interesting people, people I get on well with and who, for the most part, appear to be happy to listen to my ideas on wine, the Winelands and the history attached to the area.

Mary Kateck is an archaeologist and, with her husband Victor, interested in art. As both are well covered here, our day was almost too short. In fact, wine took very much a back seat!

Professor Ian and Kate Campbell from St Andrews found our gardens and fynbos fascinating and were amazed by the quality of our art exhibited on the estates, as were Richard and Bridget Haller. Richard likes dessert wines, of which we do not have many, but he found some at Delheim.

Richard and Bridget Haller found the dessert wine they were looking for and did some shopping at Delheim Wine Estate. Mick and Brida Downes were very happy with the Kanonkop Dry Rose they tasted at Kanonkop Wine Estate.

A common interest with retired civil servant Mick Downes were the ins and outs of local government and administration. Chris and Marilyn Maynard met up with a troop of baboons on the Franschhoek Pass anxious to show off their mating skills! What organisation!

Richard Payne has 1000 vines in Provence and we spent the time between tastings discussing terroir, soil types and irrigation methods.

I was able to show James Cadoux-Hudson some wonderful examples of 17th and 18th century Cape furniture - a pleasure as he restores furniture as a retirement hobby.

And, while vintage cars are not one of my specialities, some guests visited the Motor Museum at Franschhoek which boasts a marvellous 350 car collection.

One topic that I cannot talk on is motor cars, but fortunately there is the Franschhoek Car Museum with some 350 vintage cars!! The White Garden at Vergelegen Wine Estate, with a 18th century Cape Dutch Homestead and an oak tree that was planted in 1699.

And so, we rambled around this part of the world which has so many attractions. I remember discussing 18th century arms, Afrikaans language and poetry and the history of slavery in the area.

Autumn is here again, as beautiful as ever - season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, as the great Milton has it - and we look forward to a beautiful spring and summer. And for visitors there is the Bastille festival in Franschhoek, the spring gardens at Rustenburg and Vergelegen, the summer art festival at Oude Libertas, the Stellenbosch Wine festival in February - and, as always, Pietman Retief Wine tours which these days covers so many more subjects than just wine itself.

Christine Ellerton and jenny McDon at Ernie Els Wine Estate with the valley of Stellenbosch in the background. Autumn sundown over Stellenbosch.
What is waiting for us this winter - snow capped mountains amongst the vineyards in the Worcester district. Photo courtesy of Andre de Villiers.

As Sir Max Hastings wrote recently in Vanity Fair 'I shall be recommending you to everybody coming to the Winelands. Your tour proved one of the highlights of our holiday'. We all look forward to welcoming you to this wonderful part of South Africa.

This year we travelled some 10,000ks for the Wonderful Winelands and Captivating Cape Town tours. I have taken more than 30 tours myself during the main season and was ably assisted by Andre, Richard and Werner when committed to Council business with Stellenbosch Municipality.

Our thanks must go to friends in the travel industry, especially in the UK, who have consistently provided enthusiastic visitors to South Africa as well as tour operators within the country and other parts of the world for their support. Our commitment to provide each guest with a day to remember was we believe achieved.

The experience of all our guides is a great source of reassurance to the booking and admin department. Their consistently efficient and unflappable style plus sound knowledge of wine in particular and tourism in general makes Susan's job so much easier. The many letters and emails we receive thanking us are proof of this. Our thanks go to all of you.


Clients requesting holiday planning assistance will be referred to the most suitable tour operator who may be able to provide help with hotels and travel details within South Africa.


All bookings should be made with Susan Alexander in the reservations department tel +27 (0)21 761 7687 or cell +27 (0) 722 719072, email

For clients booking both the Wonderful Winelands and Captivating Cape Town & The Peninsula tours there is a reduction of 10%.


Recognised tour operators in the UK and Europe are invited to send South African planning staff visiting South Africa for a one day 'See the Winelands' with Pietman. Enquiries may be made with the reservations department regarding available dates.


Arrangements have been made to include other European languages with our tours. As well as English, Afrikaans and Dutch, French has been added recently.


Like most cities at the height of the summer season Cape Town suffers from too much traffic. There are many fantastic hotels and country houses in and around Stellenbosch and Franschhoek and we suggest that those wanting to tour the Winelands stay in the area. Those planning a Captivating Cape Town & The Peninsula tour will perhaps find it more convenient to avoid booking in the Camps Bay and Clifton areas which tend to become very congested.