Saturday, July 18, 2009

Road Trip for Olives and ....

Dear Friends and Family

As the sun rose over Table Mountain at 7:30 this morning, I rolled out from under two comforters. It was 42F degrees (5C), a brisk and beautiful sunny winter day after five days of rain.

The beautiful skies convinced Floyd and I that we should go on a mini trip out to the Kloovenberg Wine Estate about an hour and a half from Cape Town to pick up their wonderful black olives. And, of course, if we were going to Riebeek Kasteel for olives we had to go by way of Malmsbury to the Lammershoek Estate to visit the vintner Albert and pick up some of our favorite South African wines. This trip is always an active decision, because the estate is 7 km each way down a bumpy dirt road.

Carla was there and didn’t disappoint us. Albert had a beautifully crisp white Chenin Blanc that we think we sipped out of the cask last winter. It had aged wonderfully and Carla told us, unlike other white vintages, the Lammershoek white wines are better when kept for a year after bottling. The Chenin had been in the bottle about six months and was well on its way to perfection. By the way, the estate logo says, “Therefore we drink wine.” Someone had a fine sense of humor.

Then it was on Riebeck Kasteel for a late lunch. Along the road, the soy beans were in full bloom with yellow flowers waving on green stalks. And the land was beautiful shades of lush greens and gold, with long winter shadows. In the distant mountains, you could see snow. We hadn’t brought a camera but we did have our cell phone, so Floyd was able to take this picture of the distant mountains from the valley floor. The vineyards are in the foreground, the olive groves to the left, and the small town is around the corner. This is the Riebeek Valley, a basic Western Cape agricultural area.

After a lovely lamb lunch in this very quaint town it was a short drive to the outskirts of town for olives. Along the Kloovenberg fence rows, white roses bloomed. The roses entice the bees into the vineyards where they pollinate the vines and fruit trees. Like Lammershoek, Kloovenberg is known for its wines, some of which are imported to the United States. But here in South Africa it is also known for its olives. Over the last five years the owners have expanded their olive line from green and black olives and olive oil to olive tapenades, olive chutneys and olive based bath and body products including soap, skin softeners and body massage oils. They also produce apricot and grape jams, and they are yummy.

As the sun dimmed on the horizon, we returned to Cape Town, amazed at how far from the city we could see Table Mountain. It provided the beacon that drew us back.

Love to all from Cape Town,

Betsy and Floyd

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