Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Paardeberg Sand mining update

On the 3rd March the Appeals against the two consents given for sand mines on the Paardeberg were submitted to the Appeal Authority of the Swartland Municipality on behalf of 250 appellants (landowners, workers, others connected to the mountain) together with a petition of 3000 signatures. This is a remarkable response from the Paardeberg community.

The basis of the Appeal
Adv Martin Coetzee claims the consent given to be in breach of procedure on a number of counts and that it reveals inconsistencies, as well as unsubstantiated, biased and erroneous statements. He points to objections that were ignored or dismissed (as opinionated or unsubstantiated) one of which he regards a fatal flaw - namely the dismissal of the objection by the Department of Agriculture. Coetzee also claims the decision is not consistent with and in fact, in contradiction to the Spatial Development Frameworks and Integrated Development Plan of the Municipality, and that the land use deviation is in conflict with the surrounding land uses. He points out that the mines would have a substantial impact on the character of the surrounding area.
Coetzee shows that there is no evidence that the development will have a positive economic impact - not even to the land owner and mine operator . He further points to the overwhelming negative view of the Paardeberg community to the mines.
Overall he concludes that the applications should have been refused by the MPT since it in all instances will constitute a small, isolated non-feasible mining activity that is bound to neglect to implement the necessary environmental precautionary measures, proper, that must be discouraged in terms of the stated policy of the West Coast District Spatial Development Framework.
We wait to hear the outcome of these appeals. The Paardeberg Coalition will meet soon to evaluate events thus far and consider future actions. We will keep you posted.

Monday, 13 March 2017


With the help of marketer Linda Christensen and her company JIGSAW we hosted a media day for Dragonridge

A cellar tasting was followed by a paired food and wine tasting.  We also did a wine and information drop to numerous bloggers and magazine wine writers who could not attend the day. It was all a great success with numerous good write-ups that followed.

Christian Eades: View article
Michael Olivier review of Cygnus - View article
Lovely piece in the Feb issue of Landbouweekblad.


Cygnus will feature in the April issue of Woman & Home!
The wines will be featured in the April issue of Garden & Home!

Neil Pendock called Cygnus a magical wine!

Monday, 27 February 2017

Harvest 2017 Report

Harvest has come to a close and we can all breathe a bit before the March weddings arrive. All in all considering the drought this year and last, it was a good harvest. The quantities were higher than we expected and the quality was good.
Once again we had Andy our associate wine maker here for three weeks to run the harvest, which he did with his usual skill, humour, liveliness and thank heavens, a sense of order. And with him this time came the other half of the team, Becky his wife who added her hard work, her forthrightness and her delightful laugh to the mix. Together Andy and Johan made all the big decisions and the team of contracted pickers, wonderful overseas volunteers and our staff made it all possible. Special mention goes to Charles and Doubt members of our staff who Andy has been training and who look after the wine throughout the year. They did a wonderful job last year and are as keen as ever for the year to come.

Thanks to you all

Wednesday, 15 February 2017


Beautiful Joubertskloof

The visual impact of sand mining

The Eco Tourism of Fynbos Estate is next in line

Following the licencing this week of yet two more sand mines in the Paardeberg, we  are shocked and dismayed for the whole of the Paardeberg as well as for ourselves here at Fynbos Estate  - as we are the next in line. A sand mining application is in process for adjacent to us and  right at our entrance.

Fynbos Estate’s Dragonridge Winery is part of the Paardeberg’s wine tourism alongside Eben Sadie and others. Additionally with 280 hectares of contract nature reserve, the stillness and beauty of Fynbos Estate has allowed our sustainability as a retreat and workshop centre, as well as a rural getaway guest farm and celebration venue.  

The pavilion and pool areas look directly over the site

The sand proposed mine is highly visible from every single place on the farm and nature reserve, and the noise of big machinery  and trucks  will shatter the precious stillness sought after by visitors. Moreover instead of winding along quiet rural roads  to get to us, guests will have to run a gauntlet of  huge sand trucks which, when  full, weigh 60 tonnes, take up the entire width of the narrow roads and spew clouds of obscuring dust. 

If it were not enough that these roads carry farm vehicles and provide  pathways for horses, cattle and sheep ,  preschool and primary school children use these roads daily to and from the little farm school in the Kloof.  This is tragedy waiting to happen

An example of the huge machinery involved

An significant conservation issue: agriculture and nature.

But much more than about Fynbos, this is about the whole of the mountain, the wine and olive farms dotted around it, the  spoiling of arable land in its foothills  the numerous biodiversity areas and nature reserves hard won by land owners. It is a conservation issue of extreme  significance. In a world where there is a daily  loss of species of flora and fauna  and increasing shrinkage of agricultural land, to squander the gift of an exquisite mountain an hour from Cape Town with rural hectarage, nature reserves and biodiversity acclaimed areas,  is just unbelievable.  Does no one in office think about the planet and about what we leave to our children? All for the one off benefit to a few individual farmers and some sand transport operators.  Further any notion that a mined area can be rehabilitated to what it was before, is manifestly not true. The soil layer is crucial to mineral movement and drainage as well as to the endless colonies of insects, worms and the like that form part of agriculturally viable land and a healthy ecology all the way up to the birds that dwell here.  

Please join our campaign.  Tell all your conservation minded friends, post comments on our facebook page and if possible copy your comments to the  following link http://grape.co.za/2017/02/a-sad-day-for-swartland-wine/#comments

Please like and share this Facebook page

And then of course to link our post to theirs so ours gets onto their site too

If you prefer, write emails to us at info@fynbosestate.co.za. These we will collate and submit to the appropriate people.

Huge volumes of dust effect livestock and crops

The proposed site 

Narrow farm roads are unable to handle the increased traffic from large construction vehicles

Monday, 13 February 2017

Shambhala Art Retreat

We hosted another wonderful Shambhala retreat Рmaybe the 8th or so held here so far. This time it was an art retreat and as such had quite a different feel to the usual retreats. Mary Anne Botha, with assistance from Andras Hajdu, ran the retreat. The week-long program drew from the teachings on the creative process developed by Tibetan meditation teacher Ch̦gyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the founder of Shambhala Buddhism
This is how Mary Anne described the retreat.
To artist or non-artist, the creative process often seems mysterious and magical. As a training Shambhala Art explores making art from the viewpoint of a meditative discipline.
Working with this training as a group on retreat together, we discovered that if we were not too eager to prove something we could welcome the open space of not knowing, of playing.
And when inspiration arose out of that space, we dared to make a stroke, to make a sound, or position an object - with awareness and precision. 

And from Andrew Putter:
 "By giving us the opportunity to work in a wide variety of art forms – including acting, singing, writing, calligraphy and object arranging – and coupling perceptual and expressive exercises with meditation, study and contemplation – teachers Mary Anne Botha and Andras Hajdu skilfully introduced us to artistic expression as a potential path of awakening.
The trick is to use the artmaking process – no matter what you’re making – as a support to bring you back to the vividness and spaciousness of the present moment… in this way, it’s no different to meditation."

Those interested in Shambhala Buddhism the following may be of interest.

SHAMBHALA takes its name from a legendary kingdom famous for being an enlightened society. Today, the global Shambhala network brings together people of all ages and from all walks of life who are interested in exploring our own minds, transforming our experience, and awakening our potential for enlightened society.
Shambhala is based on trust in human dignity. We offer a path of meditation practice and contemplative arts oriented towards modern life. Our communities around the world cultivate kindness, bravery, and genuine dialogue.  Our vision is to inspire compassionate, sustainable, and just human societies.

And to find out about Shambhala South Africa can go to on shambhala.org , and by following the Cape Town group on capetown.shambhala.info

Feedback to Fynbos Estate

Thought I’d share some of the comments that came back from the Shambhala Meditation and Art Retreat evaluation sheet question 

“How suitable was the venue?” . You scored 46 out of a possible 50!
  • 5 out of 5! Perfect! Wonderful!
  • Wonderful venue and farm environment, super food and great hosts at Fynbos Mountain Estate
  • As venues go this is right up there!
  • Beautiful Place, wonderful hosts
  • Beautiful, generous, unpretentious
  • Very conducive, relaxing, connecting to nature, good food, pleasant sleeping arrangements created a good ambience
  • The venue is intimate, comfortable, beautiful, and restful and the food is delicious. And it is conveniently close to Cape Town.
  • glad we were not in the pavilion given the weather and the flies
  • improvements such as better ventilation and lighting can be made in some of the bedrooms

Monday, 30 January 2017

Die wyn manne van Malmesbury

Last harvest a group of Malmesbury men ditched their respectable clothes for the old and the stained in order to get down and dirty making their own wine. They arrived at Fynbos with picked grapes which were then crushed, de-stemmed and pressed in the Dragonridge cellar. The juice was then transported to one of their homes where it was put to tank and barrel. A year later, with numerous tastings and additions of this and that, the wine was ready to drink. Here they are from start to finish, and as you can see they so enjoyed themselves that they plan to repeat the process this harvest. 

Monday, 23 January 2017

Christmas and Boxing Day at De Perdestal

De Perdestal went into celebration mode with a Christmas Day lunch, a Funky Fynbos Boxing Day Feast, and various tastings and such. Much fun was had.