A few weekends ago, I was invited to take part in a 5km fun run at Solms-Delta vineyards in Franschhoek. How could I resist when I knew that a scrumptious picnic and bottle of wine was waiting for me at the finish line.
Most of my friends did the 10km race but Paul, my husband, was kind enough to stick with me. Our first 4 kilometers was a piece of cake and then the race took on a new dimension. The landscape was beautiful and the sun was shinning but the 5k marker was nowhere in sight. I started to question Paul as to how far he thought we had run but, within minutes, my question was answered. The 6 km sign appeared but where was that finish line with the streamers and the applauding crowd?
5 kilometers later, having romped through bushes, tiptoed through backyards and walked on a highway, 12 of us found our way back to the finish line. By then, the 10k runners were home safely and we had done an 11km race. My first question was where’s the wine?
After much fanfare and a stroll down the road, we found our picnic nirvana. Solms-Delta Wine Estate is a special place that not only produces an interesting variety of wines but also supports the community that makes the Estate such a success.
Solms-Delta’s historically disadvantaged residents and employees have been given a one third equity stake in the Estate. This has permitted them to improve their education, health and overall quality of life. Beyond the residents and workers, the Estate has also set up the Museum van de Caab to acknowledge and support those who have worked hard and given their lives to the farm over the past 320 years.
I was amazed by the beauty of the museum as well as the attention to detail, down to the glass floor in the adjoining Fyndraai Restaurant. Our picnic was created out of the restaurant’s kitchen, where chef Shaun Schoeman was given the task to create a modern twist on the Cape Dutch classics.
Our picnics were paraded out in baskets filled with bottles of wine, water and containers overflowing with salads, meats, breads and lovely sweets. The Lekkerwijn (good wine in English) is a “full bodied” rose wine that was the perfect libation for the picnic.
As we had all done a good job in our race, it did not take long before we all dove into our picnics. The chicken tandoori was perfectly spiced and cooled with the accompanying yoghurt sauce. Both Paul and I also enjoyed the smoked trout that we ate with the homemade breads. My favorite by far was the light apple tart that had a lovely caramelized topping and was easy to eat with my fingers.
As the picnic came to an end, staff began to clear away the dishes which made me realize that there was a slight problem with the picnic! Everything was served in plastic. When I asked the staff what they were doing with these containers, they shrugged and casually mentioned that the bin was their final destination.
On my drive home, I decided to contact the management of the estate. They were quick to respond by letting me know that they were working on changing the look of the picnic; less plastic and more earth friendly containers will be the norm in the future. They also let me know that they do recycle glass and paper and will be looking into cans. In terms of kitchen waste, they do collect the green waste to create compost for their Dik Delta Fynbos Culinary Garden.
What I thought was a hopeless situation ended up being a positive outcome.
Best of all, they are open to suggestions for some positive change in making their estate even more sustainable. Bravo!