The gem of South African wineries you’ve never heard of

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Why did it take me 20 years to find this place? With bits of tape peeling off each eyeglass arm, Jo Sinfield looks a bit like a mad professor, only more handsome. “I mean, look at this.”

Shaded by the spreading branches of a 500-year-old milkwood, we gaze out across the lake-like estuary – the purple-and-lime streaked salt marshes; a pink trail of flamingos etched in blue – on the steep slopes of the Maanschynkop Nature Reserve.

“Estuaries are, generally speaking, one of nature’s most productive ecosystems,” says Sinfield. “This one is particularly important, with lime-rich soil producing incredible plant diversity and phenomenal birdlife. When it bursts, it flows into Walker Bay Nature Reserve, Africa’s largest whale nursery.

Yet, to date, he adds, this entire southern shore has not been protected. “The Coot Club will not just be about discovering something so untouched less than two hours from Cape Town, or creating a new kind of holiday experience; the real heart is to keep this unique part of the world.

Sinfield points to a group of buildings on the opposite shore: tiny Legos dwarfed by the Cape Fold mountains that ring the southwest coast of Africa. “It’s Hermanus Yacht Club. We want to collaborate with them on sailing courses, regattas… And over there, it’s the Maanschijn cellar. Imagine, you can sail, open a bottle, polish it off with a cheese platter, and then go home. He smiles. “At sunset, the sound of the halyard clanking against the mast.”

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