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.
All guests booking accommodation at Asara via Asara’s own website will receive a 15% discount on the best available rates.
Estate Manager Pete Gottgens says: “This clearly makes booking directly with us through our website booking engine the best option by far for anyone planning a stay at Asara. By managing bookings in-house we are able to enhance the already exceptional value of the Asara guest experience.”
In addition you will receive a complimentary 3 glass wine tasting (per person) as well as a 2 pack box (per room) of Asara Wine Estate’s unique Red & White Cabernet for you to enjoy at your leisure. Please use Promo Code WEBDIRECT to apply the discount.
Your booking must be received via our website to qualify. Only applicable to reservations received via Asara Wine Estate & Hotel’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.
Join us during the month of June at our Sansibar Bistro for the perfect winter food and wine pairing – a glass of Asara’s Vineyard Collection Shiraz with hearty Springbok knuckle slow-cooked for six hours in a Shiraz base.
It’s Asara’s ‘Month of Shiraz & Venison’, inspired by cultivar association Shiraz SA’s ‘Week of Shiraz & Venison’.
The cost is R195 per person, and all guests who join us for this experience will receive 10% off the price of any purchases they make at our tasting room in June, and be entered into a weekly draw for a chance to win a case of VC Shiraz valued at R690 (prize to be collected from our tasting room).
Definitely not to be missed!
Asara was delighted to host a two-week working visit in April and May by Chef Archie Athanasius, executive chef of the renowned Hemingways Hotel in Nairobi. During his visit chef Archie spent time working in the Asara kitchen with Asara Head Chef Arek Witaszek. He also visited restaurants, food producers and suppliers in the Winelands and Cape Town, and was impressed by the great variety of quality produce.
The visit culminated in a dinner at mise en place for invited guests where chefs Archie and Arek together with Estate Manager Pete Gottgens prepared an array of dishes for the ‘interactive wine pairing evening’, including Chef Archie’s signature East African curries, which paired deliciously with Asara reds!
Arek says: “It was a pleasure to work with chef Archie and to share ideas and knowledge with him. The different styles and flavours keep things exciting in the kitchen, and we’re going to use what he showed us for the curries at Sansibar this winter.”
Two of Asara’s Stellenbosch Hotel School bursary students, Sihle Nhlapo and Oigen Kaptein, were recently treated to a gin workshop by Sansibar barman Thierry Lubala. The exercise was part of research the student chefs are doing for a food and gin pairing assignment for the hotel school. They will also have the opportunity to present their pairing ideas and menu to Estate Manager Pete Gottgens for his evaluation and input.
Thierry talked the duo through gin botanicals, flavours and styles with a selection of local and imported craft gins, and it was good to see our talented bursary students applying themselves so enthusiastically to the practical side of their studies!
Wine of the Month is our Speciality Collection Bell Tower 2013.
Bell Tower is Asara’s flagship wine, a weighty Bordeaux-style red blend, and winner of many awards most recently a gold medal at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles for 2019.
The blend is led by Cabernet Sauvignon (40%,) which contributes a depth of colour and fruit-rich elegance. The other components are Cabernet Franc (24%), Merlot (22%), Petit Verdot (9%) and Malbec (5%). After fermentation each component is matured for 18 months in French barriques, after which only the best of the barrels is selected for blending.
The result is a wine of elegance, intensity and complexity, with classic, dark fruit aromas of cassis and blueberry and sweet notes of vanilla and blackberries. A rich and full-bodied palate with ripe tannins leads to a long, soft and elegant finish.
Congratulations to Natasha Timmie, winery production and procurement administrator, and her husband Riaan, on the birth of a baby boy, Alex.
Asara is currently being audited for IPW (Integrated Production of Wine) compliance, which certifies that we are in accordance with international wine industry environmental sustainability criteria. This in itself is important from a sustainability perspective, but is also an essential requirement by the European trade.
Asara has donated 200 pairs of slippers to the old age home in Moorreessburg. Just in time for winter.
The tasting room has switched to winter opening hours, which are weekdays from 09h00 to 17h00 daily with the last wines poured at 16h30, and Sundays and Public Holidays from 10h00 to 16h00 with last pour at 15h30.
Regert van Staden, who joined us in January as a farm team intern for harvest, has stayed on after harvest and is now working in the cellar.
A warm welcome to new Asara team members:
Renthia Niemann - – Winery Accounts Manager
Wesley Jager - Duty manager
Cape Town’s famous Two Oceans Aquarium has a Turtle Rescue Programme that seeks to rescue, rehabilitate and release distressed sea turtles. It’s one of many wonderful conservation programmes run by the aquarium that depends on the support of organisations and volunteers
So when news came in early May that a massive storm had stranded a large number of hatchling loggerhead turtles on the beaches at Mossel Bay and vicinity, Asara was happy to contribute to the rescue mission by collecting 29 hatchlings at Mossel Bay and delivering them to the aquarium for rehabilitation, and donating a large number of plastic containers with lids for hatchling transport.
This required an 800-km round trip and a heroic effort by Asara’s Head of Security, Ernst Bester. “When Mr Gottgens asked me to help, I was happy to say yes,” says Ernst. “It’s gratifying to come together as a community to achieve something like this, and to know that these turtles will swim in the oceans again when they are bigger and stronger.”
Asara’s Vineyard Collection Pinotage 2017 was awarded a Double Platinum medal and Top 100 status at the prestigious National Wine Challenge/Top 100 SA Wines 2019.
This was a wonderful showing for the maiden vintage of the VC Pinotage. Asara’s The Bell Tower 2013 was also recognised, winning a double silver medal. To celebrate the achievement we’re selling a mixed case of these wines (3 of each) at our tasting room for only R995 (normally R1175).
We celebrated a festive Mother’s Day in style at Sansibar on Sunday 12 May. All the moms were welcomed on arrival with a complementary glass of the classic French 75 cocktail— done Asara-style with our MCC and Southern Cross gin. The menu also featured fresh yellowfin tuna, sustainably fished by suppliers Green Fish.
It all added up to a happy Mother’s Day celebration.
Late summer rains were perfectly timed to irrigate the vines after harvest, and to reduce the need for supplementary irrigation. The farm’s water allocation has increased and we have sufficient water for our needs, although we’re still hoping for good winter rains to start soon.
The farm team is back in the vineyards after a two week post-harvest break. The focus is now on building up reserves in the vines before they go into their winter dormancy, which will assist in producing a healthy crop for harvest 2020.
For the time being this entails planting cover crops to build up nitrogen levels in the soils, and to provide organic matter to plough into the soils when winter ends.
The all-important three month pruning process will start towards the end of May.
Last year we increased the size of the kitchen garden and range of produce so as to be able to generate a consistent and sufficient supply of fresh, seasonal vegetables and herbs for Asara’s kitchens.
At the same time we also switched to using non-GMO heirloom seeds, and strictly organic cultivation, with no chemicals or pesticides and techniques such as ‘companion planting’ as a natural form of pest control. Now, as we head into winter 2019, it’s noticeable that the kitchen garden is looking fresher and abundant for the season. Head Gardener Tommy Williams believes that this is due to the organic focus and use of heirloom seeds that, he says, tends to produce healthier and more robust plants.
The Asara team of Estate Manager Pete Gottgens and Winery Manager Sam Wiid had a busy four days showing off Asara’s award-winning wines at the Vinexpo wine fair in Bordeaux in the middle of May.
Vinexpo Bordeaux is one of the largest and most famous wine shows in the world, and a significant event on the Asara wine calendar. During the fair Pete and Sam had the opportunity to meet many of our existing friends and business partners from countries around the world, and to introduce Asara wines to a good number of prospective new clients.