Bells & Whistles is a monthly newsletter which aims to give a voice to the Asara team, and to celebrate good news in our own quirky way. At Asara we regard our staff as our biggest asset, and each department has wonderful stories to tell and many achievements to share and celebrate. So please enjoy this edition, and please remember to share your stories and ideas with us.
Hot on the heels of the Women’s Soccer World Cup in France comes the Gothia Cup Youth Soccer Tournament in Gothenburg, Sweden, the biggest youth soccer tournament in the world, and Asara’s home-grown soccer star Marelize Williams will be there!
There’s huge excitement for Marelize’s trip amongst the farm team and her neighbours in the Asara Farm Worker’s village. Marelize’s father, Colin Williams, is a long-time stalwart of the farm team and member of the Farm Worker’s Committee, and Asara is delighted to be contributing financially to enable Marelize to take part in the tournament that kicks off on July 15.
Marelize, who plays as a striker for the Stellenzicht Secondary School girl’s football team – the Falcons - has already been earmarked for a trial at the soccer academy at world-renowned club AS Roma. Participation in the Gothia Cup with the Falcons will be another milestone towards achieving her dream of playing professional soccer, and we are holding thumbs for a strong performance by her and her team. Go Marelize!
Asara’s Heidi Truter was invited to address the graduation ceremony for hospitality and culinary students at Stellenbosch’s Bergzicht Training Academy in June. The academy is a non-government initiative, funded in part by the Stellenbosch Municipality Mayoral Youth Skills Development Fund, that provides excellent training to people from disadvantaged backgrounds, often with little formal education. Asara hosts regular visits by Bergzicht students, including Q&A sessions with Heidi and Estate Manager Pete Gottgens, to help them to understand the fivestar hotel environment and to provide a little inspiration for their studies and future careers. At least one Bergzicht alum has started a highly promising career at Asara.
‘We’re very happy to contribute to the amazing work the academy is doing to uplift their students and give them the opportunity to better their lives,” Heidi says. In her address she told the new graduates that they were on the threshold of exciting but challenging careers, and that the key to success was to persevere and always remember the words of inventor Thomas Edison, “The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time”.
Asara’s Sansibar Gin Lounge joined the international celebration of Negroni Week in June, offering a different variation on the iconic cocktail for every day of the week and for the adventurous Negroni enthusiast, a single flight tasting of all seven of the week's Negroni variations.
As the home of gin adventure and discovery, with over 500 local and imported gins to choose from and a range of gin tasting experiences on offer, it was only appropriate for Sansibar to celebrate Negroni Week in style. The classic Negroni combines gin, Campari and vermouth in equal measure and is said to have been invented in Florence in 1919 when Count Negroni decided to punch up his Americano cocktail (Campari, sweet vermouth, and club soda) by replacing the soda water with gin. The result was an intriguing and seductive balance of flavours and the Negroni’s popularity has grown ever since until today when the cocktail has become a staple of any self-respecting gin lounge.
Negroni Week is also a charity event and part of Sansibar’s proceeds for the week will go to animal welfare.
Wine of the Month is our Vineyard Collection Pinotage 2017, which was awarded a Double Platinum and Top 100 status at the prestigious National Wine Challenge / Top 100 SA Wines for 2019 - a brilliant result for the wine’s maiden vintage!
Hand-selected grapes are cold skin-macerated for two days, fermented at cool temperatures, and then aged for 14 months in French oak. The resulting wine offers rich fruit flavours with ripe red berries, hints of cherry, smoky bacon and nuances of mocha, with layered tannins enhanced by a smooth, silky, mouthfeel. A vibrant and elegant Pinotage expression!
Congratulations to Sansibar Manager Thierry Lubala, his wife Diane and big brother Ammiel, on the birth of daughter and sister Medad.
We’re delighted to welcome back to the Asara team Head of Pastry Naasir Ortell after a brief, adventurous absence. It’s good to have you back Naasir!
A hearty welcome back also to Senior Reservationist Janett Claasen, who has been on maternity leave after the birth of her son Luca.
Congratulations to Senior Receptionist Giselle Hoffmeester and Sansibar Manager Marc Gaiser who were married on the 15th of June. Best wishes to them both from all in the Asara family!
An enjoyable evening was had by all when winemakers Janette van Lill and Christian Nigrini, assisted by Regert van Staden, conducted a tasting of Asara wines for the Swartland Wine Club in June. The club was impressed, Janette says, by the wide range of wines on offer, which she explained was due to the great variety of slopes and micro-climates available on the estate. The wines enjoyed an enthusiastic reception judging by the lively discussion and brisk sales that followed.
Asara’s investment in oak barrels for wine maturation has increased steadily in recent years and we have a record number of new French oak barrels in the Asara wine cellar this year. Oak maturation contributes body, depth, structure and complexity to wine and is an essential element in the production of fine wines.
There are some 60 French cooperages with representation in South Africa, each producing barrels with unique characteristics depending on the selection of wood, seasoning of the barrels and how they are toasted during production. Asara works closely with as many as 15 of them - including the likes of François Frères, Sylvain and Seguin Moreau - to precisely match each barrel with the wine that it is intended for. Understanding the nuances of the different barrel styles and how they influence the wine makes all the difference when it comes to producing great wines!
Head gardener Tommy Williams and his team are keeping the kitchen garden productive through winter with plantings such as pumpkin, beetroot, spinach, radish and beans, as well as herbs like mint, parsley and coriander. New on the menu at Sansibar this winter is a delicious salad of beetroot straight from the kitchen garden served with Roulou feta, balsamic glaze and arugula.
2019 is shaping up as a good winter for the farm with high rainfall and the persistent cold weather that creates healthy vines. Rainfall for the Western Cape is back in line with long-term trends, and dam levels are significantly up over last year. Asara’s full allocation of water in terms of the Theewaterskloof irrigation allotment should be available as and when needed in summer. The main activity on the farm this month and next is pruning, which is now well underway and is progressing well.
Asara’s garden team has built a number of platforms for ducks and geese at the bottom dam to make the dam attractive and safe for nesting. The birds still need to cross the road to forage in the vineyards and we have sadly lost some goslings to reckless driving. Estate Manager Pete Gottgens says: “This is most upsetting. We have a well signposted speed limit on the driveway and it must be observed. After all, people are coming to Asara to relax.”
All guests booking accommodation at Asara via Asara’s own website will receive a 15% discount on the best available rates. This enhances Asara’s excellent value-formoney offering, and makes booking through the Asara website the best option by far for anyone booking a stay at he hotel.
In addition guests will receive a complimentary 3 glass wine tasting (per person) as well as a 2 pack box (per room) of Asara’s unique Red & White Cabernets to enjoy at their leisure. Please use Promo Code WEBDIRECT to apply the discount.
Booking must be received via Asara’s website to qualify. Only applicable to reservations received via Asara’s web booking engine. Not applicable via any other method of booking, nor any 3rd party website. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or any other rate type. Regret existing bookings cannot be changed. T&C’s apply.