H|H Food & Wine

Ecology (Paardenkloof) : Where Nurture and Nature meet

They say take the road less travelled yet for some reason I’m sure they didn’t mean travel the same dirt road three times over only to discover you’re at the wrong place.

It’s travel Tuesday and believe me I may have taken this trending hash tag to the next level at the rate I got lost in search of “Ecology” which I finally figured out is situated on the R43 on route to Hermanus just opposite the Shell Petrol station.

How could I miss it!!

There are a few hand written monochromatic sign boards that boast the best lamb curry for lunch, locally sourced farm produce and a hand reared Fynbos nursery.

Greeted by the owner Daphne and the sweetest stray pup “Alfie”, we laugh over my meandering misdirection when searching for her estate on a dust road just a few km away from their now new “in town” tasting room and country comfort eatery.

The news and social media is rife with rumours of the worst Cape storm in 15yrs, this means that the once Al Fresco Ecology restaurant has shacked up with the adjacent casual tasting room to offer guests a fire lit experience accompanied by the warmth of their team and of Daphne herself who tells stories of the farm and the inspired art pieces than Don their mere 6500 per cultivar range of Paardenkloof varietals.

She’s clearly connected and passionate about every element of the Paardenkloof growth with her hands on approach and knowledge of absolutely every aspect of their family farm.

With an endearing charm Daphne tells the untold story, to me anyway of a local coloured artist Peter Clarke.

A simple Simon’s Town resident who slowly aged and eventually passed away in Solitude, yet even until the very end spent his days sharing stories of his adventures and journeys as a dock worker come artist, curating constatina styled “books” that page with tickets to sketches as he ventured through life.

The connection between this farm and that artist seem simply organic as Daphne elaborates I feel as if she could easily be speaking of her very own father, she is honest and the fable flows like the wine throughout my tasting.

The self named varietals “Bend in the Road” “The Long Road” and “Die Agtehuis” all pay homage to Mr Clarke with his calligraphy carefully crafted at the base of each bottle.

There are two ranges produced at Paardenkloof (once Paarde Kloof, named after the many Perde/Horses that roamed this mountainous farm) the Ecology range are younger but by now means dependant on their elders patiently lined up in the “Paardenkloof” range.

“Ecology” typically known as “entry” wines are all single vineyard variatals with Vintages as late as 2014 being poured currently.

The stately Sauvignon from both ranges are aged and gracefully so, with the Ecology 2015 being poured, fireside at breakfast nogal I found a delicate balance in both a passion fruit freshness and a rounded mouthfeel that one would appreciate from a aged Savignon.

What sparked my attention and kept it was the choice to hold back namesake vintages, “Paardenkloof” generally see 14 months on oak and rest a further 5years before a singular cork is politely popped.

An intriguing tasting at Ecology ( and at the Paardenkloof along the adjacent dirt road by appointment) is that vertical styled tastings are offered between the trio of tasters, Sauvignon Blanc, Cab Sav and Shiraz. A fantastic way to explore the farm and there playful use of terrior.

Tastings can be enjoyed over a light lunch, which is the furthest thing from an ostentatious offering. Think oumas kombuis comfort classics with staff being upskilled by yes, you guessed it, Daphne herself.

After lunch or tastings, guests can head to a stark shed, the correlated doors roll open and you’ll be greeted by farmed Fynbos is various phases from freshly plucked to gingerly dried & upcycled.

As we head to my car, Daphne tells tales of her humble hikes with her youngster as they discover various variety of flora and fauna it’s clear that Paardenkloof is a synergy of nature and nurture.

 

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