Thursday 22 February 2018
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Unauthorised construction – no warm and fuzzy feelings

The LAB Lifestyle in Nerina Street was built without approved building plans and the required zoning in place.

Labradors, or Labs for short, usually evoke warm and fuzzy feelings, as they’re considered one of the gentlest dog breeds around. The same cannot be said about the new accommodation establishment, The LAB Lifestyle, with its Labrador logo that has been taking shape in Nerina Street over the past few months.

What has taken place at erf 660 in Nerina Street since October 2017 can only be described as a construction frenzy – an illegal one to boot.

Bussing in trouble?

Hylton Ross coaches regularly ignore the weight restriction in Dirkiey Uys Street

Residents of Dirkie Uys and La Rochelle Streets are furious at bus and tour companies whose drivers wilfully ignore the 3.5 tonne vehicle weight restriction applicable to these mostly residential streets.  They also expressed frustration at the apparent lack of traffic law enforcement in this regard.

According to one irate resident no fewer than five tourist coaches illegally drove along Dirkie Uys Street from the Huguenot Museum to the Dutch Reformed Church grounds on the morning of Saturday, 11 November, alone. Two of them went even further and instead of parking in the church grounds parked in La Rochelle Street, only metres away from a 3.5 tonne weight restriction sign.

Residents who have confronted drivers of offending coaches say they have been met with rudeness and arrogance when pointing out that coaches are not allow in Dirkie Uys Street.  A common response is “The tour guide made me do it” as if that excuses ignoring road signs.  Another oft-heard response from drivers is along the lines of “If you don’t want us to bring you tourists, just say so.”

Approached for comment Reinher Behrens, CEO of Franschhoek Wine Valley, said: “Franschhoek welcomes tourists whether by car or coach. In most popular tourist destinations clear parking areas and routes are demarcated for tourist coaches as well as areas and routes where restrictions apply. The use by tourist coaches of Dirkie Uys Street, which carries a 3.5 tonne vehicle weight restriction, continues to be a concern. Threats and confrontation will get us nowhere.  My suggestion is that we arrange a meeting with the relevant coach operators and agree on a way forward.”

‘Prisoners’ in pass accident

Emergency services staged an accident scenario to test their preparedness.

“MVA FHK PASS”, is an all-too-familiar message sent out on local WhatsApp groups. On Wednesday, 29 November, the Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) was however the start of a multi-agency exercise involving Stellenbosch Fire and Rescue Services, SAPS Franschhoek, Western Cape Metro Rescue Services, Winelands District Fire Services, Stellenbosch Traffic Services, Department of Correctional Services, Stellenbosch private and public hospitals, ER24 and local paramedics Garth Van Zyl (Medicare EMR) and Kurt Maske.

Allan Gray Entrepreneurship Challenge achievers to jet off to the US

Bridge House’s Allan Gray Entrepreneurship Challenge winners with their teachers in the Bridge House Commerce Department. FLTR: Mr Juan Kidd, Tim Vermeulen (2nd place), Mr Cheslyn Andrews, Mr David Sutcliffe and Bocasho Braaf (3rd place).

Two Bridge House Grade 9 students came in the top three of the Allan Gray Entrepreneurship Challenge. Tim Vermeulen came second and and Bocasho Braaf third. Their prizes include a trip to Silicon Valley, which they’ll undertake next year.

The Allan Gray Entrepreneurship Challenge is South Africa’s leading competition for aspiring entrepreneurs. Contestants are recognised for demonstrating outstanding entrepreneurial thinking skills.

Bridge House was one of only two Western Cape Schools to take part and ranked seventh out of all the participating schools.

Double decker tram

The Franschhoek Wine Tram celebrated the introduction of two double-deck railway trams at a function hosted by Vrede en Lust and the Lust Bistro on 6 November 2017.

With an impressive view of the surrounding vineyards and Simonsberg mountain, guests were addressed by Dana Buys of Vrede en Lust, Hein Koegelenberg representing Franschhoek Wine Valley and Minister Anton Bredell, the Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.

Fibre for Franschhoek

Ever had your karma corrupted by slow and unreliable internet connections? Well, you’re not alone.  Some months ago local businessman Tony Fishlock, of online safari company ATR Safari had had enough of his business suffering because of internet irritations.  He set about to find out how to get fast and reliable internet access in the village via fibre-optic cable.  (Currently the closest place with fibre-optic connectivity is Val de Vie Estate.)

Fibre optic cables have many advantages. Perhaps most importantly, as they use light rather than electricity to carry signals, they are superfast allowing users to send and receive large volumes of data, quickly and securely. Fibre further allows users to make the most efficient use of cloud services while also easily supporting growing data volumes without compromising on performance. The cables are also not susceptible to electrical shorts and are less vulnerable to theft because they contain no copper.

Many of the technical and planning issues around bringing fibre to Franschhoek have already been addressed while work is continuing on the business model that will support the roll-out. Everybody involved is however optimistic that 2018 will be the year that fibre reaches Franschhoek.

Fibre supplier, SA Digital Villages, has already applied for wayleaves from Stellenbosch Municipality to ‘fibre up’ Franschhoek and have appointed a contractor to design the low level network for every home. A Wi-Fi solution to service visitors in the main road has also been designed.  As a possible phase 2 an aerial fibre solution for farmers is also being investigated.

The cost of the ‘fibre to the home’ network will be carried by SA Digital Villages, who are in talks with Dark Fibre Africa to construct the so-called ‘backhaul’ connectivity to Franschhoek.

Anybody that is interested in the fibre roll-out or wishes to get involved can contact Ruth McCourt on or 083 390 2891 for further information.

Franschhoek Wine Tram supports charities

The Franschhoek Wine Tram’s ticket stub charity initiative has resulted in them donating R20 000 each to five local charities for a total of R100 000. The handover took place on 17 November.

Franschhoek Wine Tram makes a donation for each ticket stub deposited by passengers at the end of the tour in one of the charity boxes located at the ticket office. In this way passengers are engaged in the process of charitable contributions and general awareness of the benefitting charities is raised.

“We view these annual charitable donations as an investment in the community; a community whose support has made the Franschhoek Wine Tram possible,” says David Blyth, owner of the Franschhoek Wine Tram.

“Franschhoek Wine Tram has gone from strength to strength since launching in 2012 with just three employees and two wine estates on the service. By the end of this year we will have more than 40 full-time employees and 22 wine estates on the service,” he continues. “The popularity of the service has surpassed all our expectations which is reflected in close to 2000 TripAdvisor reviews we have received to date. Currently we rank 17th out 1063 attractions in the Western Cape – a remarkable achievement given our short history.”

The charities that received donations this year are: ACVV Franschhoek (social work), SPCA Franschhoek (animal welfare), Kusasa (children’s educational charity), Cape Leopard Trust (environmental research and education) and the JAM SA school feeding initiative.

Finalists announced for the 2017 Diners Club Winemaker and Young Winemaker of the Year Awards

2017 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Finalists: Left to right: Niël Groenewald (Bellingham), Christiaan Groenewald (New Cape Wines), Clayton Reabow (Môreson), André Scriven (Rooiberg), De Wet Viljoen (Neethlingshof)

The finalists for the Diners Club Winemaker and Young Winemaker of the Year awards have been announced. Five winemakers have been shortlisted to compete for the prestigious Winemaker of the Year award, while four will vie for the Young Winemaker of the Year title.

Diners Club introduced the Winemaker of the Year award in 1981 to encourage local winemakers to raise the standard of wines produced in South Africa. 17 years later the Young Winemaker of the Year award was introduced to encourage winemakers under the age of 30 to develop their skills, express their individuality, and add to the future prestige of South African wines internationally. These awards, focusing on quality and recognition of excellence, are regarded as the country’s most prestigious and well-respected wine industry competition.

The competition is open to all in the South African wine industry at no cost and consequently this affords all winemakers a shot at the sought-after titles. While other awards focus on just the wine, the Diners Club Winemaker and Young Winemaker of the Year awards celebrate the skills and talent of the vintners. The awards are presented to the winemakers who produce a wine that the judging panel considers to be the best in a specified class. The categories for 2017 are Pinotage single varietal wines for Winemaker of the Year, and White Wines for Young Winemaker of the Year. As in previous years, a few winemakers have been shortlisted for more than one submission.

The field was narrowed down to the nine finalists through rigorous judging over two days by a team of wine gurus, including renowned international judge, William Predhomme.  All the judges agree that it will be a close race for the top prize, a clear indication that the finalist wines are outstanding. Judges examined each wine evaluating appearance, aroma, taste, aftertaste and overall impression.

The 2017 Diners Club Winemaker and Young Winemaker of the Year finalists are:

Winemaker of the Year category: Pinotage

·         André Scriven – Rooiberg Pinotage Reserve 2016

·         Christiaan Groenewald – New Cape Wines – Arendskloof Pinotage 2015 and Eagles Cliff Pinotage 2017

·         Clayton Reabow – Môreson Widowmaker Pinotage 2015

·         De Wet Viljoen – Neethlingshof Pinotage 2016

·         Niël Groenewald – Bellingham Homestead Pinotage 2016

Young Winemaker of the Year category: White Wines

·         Charl Schoeman – Simonsig Roussanne 2016 and Roussanne Marsanne 2016

·         Murray Barlow – Rustenberg Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2016

·         Philip Viljoen – Bon Courage Chardonnay Unwooded 2017 and Noble Late Harvest 2016 (Weisser Riesling/Gewürztraminer)

·         Wade Roger-Lund – Jordan Blanc de Blancs Méthode Cap Classique 2015

The 2017 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year judges

·         William Predhomme

·         Carrie Adams

·         Debi Van Flymen

·         James Pietersen

·         Michael Crossley

·         Nomonde Kubheka

·         Ntsiki Biyela

The winners of both the Winemaker and the Young Winemaker of the Year awards will be announced at a black-tie gala dinner at La Residence Hotel in Franschhoek on 25 November 2017. The winning Winemaker receives R50 000 and the Young Winemaker R25 000. Both winemakers also receive two return air tickets on Delta Airlines to any wine producing region in the USA.

Boschendal bubbles sparkle at the 2017 IWSC

Boschendal Grand Cuvée Brut

There’s nothing better than bubbly to toast a special moment; that satisfying ‘pop’ immediately signifies a joyous occasion or achievement. No doubt, Boschendal will be ‘popping’ its own Boschendal Grande Cuvée Brut 2013 to celebrate the vintage’s win of a sought-after gold at the 2017 International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC).

The estate’s acclaimed white wine and MCC maker, Lizelle Gerber, says the accolade means a great deal, “The IWSC is a renowned competition that sets the benchmark for premium vintages around the world so it’s a great honour to win this esteemed award.”

She says it has taken years to perfect the Grande Cuvée Brut 2013, which forms part of Boschendal’s world-class bottle fermented Méthode Cap Classique selection. The MCCs embody vibrancy and depth due to an intensive crafting process which begins already in the vineyard.

Crafted from classic varieties in the time honoured traditional method (Méthode Champenois),The MCCs have extended lees contact that results in a balanced, full and creamy mouth feel with elegant minerality and a seamless finish.

When savouring the award-winning Boschendal Grande Cuvée Brut, Gerber says there’ll be notes of fresh green apple and hints of citrus supported by discreet almond biscotti and brioche – accents typical to the classic bottle-fermented wine style. She suggests the vintage pairs beautifully with good quality smoked salmon or a cream cheese and chive breakfast.

Boschendal’s MCC’s have also been receiving other accolades of late. Some of these include the Jean Le Long Prestige Cuvee 2007 which achieved Top 100 and Double Platinum status in the National Wine Challenge / Top 100 SA Wines, the premier fine-wine only event in SA in late April. The Jean Le Long Prestige Cuvèe Blanc de Blanc 2007, known as the “prestige cuvee” in Boschendal’s Méthode Cap Classique range, received Gold at the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show earlier this year.

Staying on the gold streak, the Boschendal Brut NV was announced this week as having won Gold at the Six Nations Wine Challenge 2017. The Six Nations Wine Challenge is a Global Wine Events Platform delivering a rare & exclusive opportunity to all participating wine estates, media & partners by identifying, recognising & show-casing to both trade and consumers the very best of the best ‘NEW WORLD WINES’ & promoting their outstanding quality, diversity & richness annually.

A (relatively) rare sighting

The Cape Leopard Trust team show off their new t-shirts at Leopard's Leap Family Vineyards.

Spotting a leopard in the wild is a rare and special experience. A sighting apparently almost as rare is to find the entire Cape Leopard Trust (CLT) team in one place! On Thursday, 14 September, this rare occurrence actually happened, when the ten members of the Cape Leopard Trust team met at Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards. The venue was particularly appropriate, as Leopard’s Leap is one of the Trust’s main sponsors.

The reason for this unusual gathering was to bring together the usually widely-dispersed research, education and administrative teams for a group photo, and to showcase the new t-shirt range. It was also a valuable opportunity for a catch up in person rather than via Skype, and a chance to welcome the newest team member, Ismail Wambi to the fold.  The stylish, new t-shirts are part of a new merchandise range that will shortly be available for sale on the CLT website as part of a green gifting campaign.

The Cape Leopard Trust is an active predator conservation working group with projects in Cape Town, the Boland and the Cederberg. It uses research and environmental education as a tool for empowering conservation, finding solutions to human-wildlife conflict. Since its inception in 2004 it has become an authority on predator conservation not only in the Cape, but also nationally.

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