The Most Memorable South African Drinks Events of 2016

You might not believe me when I say life of a drinks reporter comes with its fair share of occupational hazards. While trying to scale down my event schedule this year I still attended over 90 drink and food related events in 2016 and the proof lays plumply in my waistline.

We might never be royals, but oh Lorde, we love the luxe. I’m grateful for every single waist expanding invitation I received over the past 12 months.

So, let’s move on from the mundane (and my weight issues) and salute those who organized the most spectacular and memorable drinks events of 2016.

Chardonnay Celebration at De Wethof

Combine a love of chardonnay with fine food in an immaculate setting and you get the annual Chardonnay Celebration, a tribute to the Queen of South African wines.

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The De Wet Family made sure no expenses were spared and pulled out all the stops at this year’s party. The guest list included the who’s who of the South African wine world as well as Jay McInerney, American novelist and wine writer, and South Africa’s first Michelin star chef Jan Hendrik van der Westuizen.

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Chef Jan Hendrik van der Westuizen letting loose!

The event provided a unparalleled opportunity to taste the country’s best chardonnays, while networking with industry leaders and legends. Certainly a day that will go down as one of the best wine celebrations in the books of all those present….That’s is if you can remember.

Thank you note to: Emile Joubert (Media Vision) and the De Wet Family

The Caperitif Cacophony at Adi’s place

With wine being such a nerdy subject, I hesitate to say it has celebrities, but if there were to be a wine celebrity, most certainly it would be Adi Badenhorst  of AA Badenhorst Family Wines.

In November, I had the pleasure of attending the re-launched of Adi’s Ghost Ingredient and spending a afternoon with this fascinating man and his Caperitif business partner, Lars Erik Lyndgaard Schmidt. This Danish mixologist met the Swartland winemaker a couple of years ago and after sharing their passions over a couple of cases of wine, the two decided to try and revive the once world famous Cape Aperitif.

To celebrate the success of their collaboration and extraordinary product, they decided to host the Caperitif Cacophony – the best jamboree of the year!

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The day kicked off with a CaperiTEA and talks by Adi (Why and how do we make this stuff?) Dave Hughes (the history of the Cape Wine and drinks industry) Wim Tijmens (some insight on the various fynbos and botanical ingredients) and Lars (the history and the story of the new Caperitif).

Apart from the five Caperitif cocktail stations, Adi’s mom Judy Badenhorst and her team prepared yesteryear’s party nibbles such as Oysters Rockefeller and molded jello salad.

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My car might never be the same after this trip to the Swartland, but the bumpy road to Kalmoesfonetin was well worth the ride.

Thank you note to: Ann Fereirra, Adi and the rest of the Badenhorst family.

The Bloeisel Festival at De Krans

The Klein Karoo, set on the longest wine route in the world, Route 62, is one of South Africa’s most underrated natural beauties. The entire route offers a staggering variety of majestic landscapes, but the Klein Karoo in particular is something special. The road takes you through Calitzdorp, or as some might call it, the Port Capital of South Africa.

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The Nel family from De Krans invited us to spend a weekend with them, as they celebrated the arrival of spring with their annual Bloeisel Fees. Of the many highlights that I enjoyed during our two night stay in Calitzdorp,  one of my favourites was the Biscotti and Wine tasting, presented by Francois Ferreira. The tasting experience is the first of its kind in the country, so be sure to add it to your bucket list.

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Francois Ferreira and Boets Nel

The warm hospitality of owner Boets Nel and his wife Theresa was very heartening and I can not thank them enough for the fantastic wines, incredible food and fascinating stories they shared with us over the weekend. Thanks to them, Calitzdorp and its people will always have a special place in my heart and I look forward to my next visit.

Thank you note to: Boets and Teresa Nel for hosting us. Francois Ferreira and winemaker Louis van der Riet for the entertainment, and Chef Retief van der Walt for the most amazing food.

Dinner in the Dark with Kaleidoscope

On April 6, 2016, I attended my first Dinner in the Dark. This unforgettable (and by far my most memorable) dining experience took place at Langverwacht in Kuilsriver.  The evening, hosted by Hein Wagner from Kaleidoscope, provided guests with a little insight into the magical world of the blind and it was an occasion that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

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I was surprised to discover how my taste buds gets deceived when not supported by sight. Sitting next to a random person whose face I could not see, was strange, but at the same time, really humbling.

Hein Wagner is a blind man with vision. This legend and brand ambassador for Kaleidoscope participates in extreme adventures to market the abilities of those living with disabilities and to raise funds for the Kaleidoscope Institute.

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Hein Wagner

Some examples of his achievements include the Absa Cape Epic, the Antarctica Marathon, the Two Oceans and New York Marathons, and completing Ironman, only to name a few. Hein is living proof that despite the challenges that come our way, anything is possible. He does not allow his blindness to stand in the way of his dreams and people often refer to him as the blind man with exceptional vision.

Thank you note to: Tin Can PR , Hein Wagner and the folks at Kaleidoscope.

There are a couple of events that should be on the list, but due to time constraints, I had to cut things short. Also, there’s been times when the event was so good, that I struggle to remember it….if you catch my drift.

Big thank you to each and every winemaker, PR company and those behind the scenes that took the time to share their passion for the drinks industry with me and our readers.