Ask any Elginite whether camping in the Himalayas sounds milder than the 2012 Elgin winter. There are t-shirts in town with the words 'I survived.' Discovery channel has recently assigned Elgin the next series of 'I shouldn't be alive.' That said, it's been a phenomenal winter for fruit trees and vineyards alike. They haven't slept this well in over 40 years. The last time we experienced a winter this cold it led to devastating hail damage in the spring. Fingers crossed.

In July we spent a glorious week in the Lower Zambezi National Park, an African gem, but certainly not magical in terms of its wine offering. I was duly ordered to smuggle 10 cases of Oak Valley's finest past the studious customs officials in Lusaka. Amazed that the wine arrived in the first place, unscathed as it passed through the O.R. Tambo gauntlet, I then handed the officials an invoice which had our wines at bargain-basement prices. Our 5 star Pinot Noir 2009 was going for a song at R8 a pop. A puzzled-looking official then commented that we would be better off drinking the local brew made from maize and resembling sour porridge. Needless to say, we breezed through with enough liquid to prevent us from dehydrating down the mighty Zambezi.

Our Chinese importers arrived in September on a 4-day visit. I finally discovered the true meaning of Gan Bei, the Mandarin equivalent of bottoms up. It soon became apparent as to why consumption in China is likely to increase with gusto. A quiet country lunch around our dining room table transformed into a Dagbreek-esque student drinking session, where, outnumbered 8 to 1, we were respectfully challenged to chugging some of our finest vintages, including the Decanter International Trophy winner Blend 2004. It barely registered with my tastebuds but certainly registered with my motor neurons. We then proceeded to conduct serious wine business around the boardroom table where my old man and I raced through payment terms like Chad le Clos in the 200m fly. The following 3 days would test my Rawbone mettle to its upper limits. Thank goodness I come from good farming stock.

In October we officially launch the Elgin Wine Route with 16 founding members. A fantastic new map of the route along with tasting room times can be found here (file size ± 1MB).

The launch will coincide with the introduction of the Elgin Open Wine Weekends starting on Sat-Sun, 6th-7th October. All 16 wine estates will open their doors from 10h00-16h00 on the 1st weekend (Sat & Sun) of every month. Each weekend will carry a theme, including Elgin flagships, meet the winemaker, cellar treasures, varietal based vertical tastings and so on.

The aim is to encourage all producers to open their doors until eventually we evolve into a 365 day-a-year wine route. It is a sensible step-by-step approach that I fully endorse.

The opening date is set for Wednesday, 24th October. I should be excited, elated even. To the contrary, I'm somewhat nervous. So much time, energy and passion has gone into this project that it's hard to believe we're almost crossing the finish line, yet only at the starting block in a commercial sense. The premise behind The Pool Room is idealistic in many ways. It stands for everything that makes Oak Valley great. An uncompromising belief in the integrity and quality of our products. No short cuts.

We tried keeping the menu as simple as possible, focussing mainly on our meat products, grass-fed beef and acorn-fed pork, along with a range of charcuterie, crafted by Nicole Precoudis, in her on-farm curing facility. Our Wagyu beef, the famous cattle breed from Japan, where it is better known as Kobe, will be on offer from time-to-time depending on availability. The restaurant is equipped with a custom made wood-fired grill to ensure optimum flavour. It promises to be the quintessential pasture-to-plate experience. Seasonal veggies and herbs will be sourced from our very own garden behind the restaurant while daily specials will offer patrons the opportunity to order from the chalkboard.

We're bringing Harrods to the countryside. Without Al Fayed.

In November we launch the Oak Valley Top Drop! Wine Club offering member's exclusive club benefits including private Wagyu tastings, access to award-winning museum collection wines, an invitation for you and a partner to the annual Top Drop! Members Party on Oak Valley and a 15% saving on all wine purchased from the tasting room and restaurant to name a few.

Membership requires a commitment to your very own 24-bottle selection per year, at a 15% saving, delivered free to your door. Hopefully our admirers will consider this a jolly good deal!

We are pleased to welcome two new members, Annie van der Bijl and Kate Semple, into the Oak Valley Wines team. Annie recently took over our sales effort in Pretoria and the performance curve in Bull's territory has been rising ever since. I can't say the same for Heyneke Meyer. Kate, an Elginite by origin, joins the tasting room armed with years of hospitality experience as we gear up for the arrival of foodies and wino's en mass around The Pool Room pond.

Join us poolside this summer.

Gan Bei.

WINE Oak Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Oak Valley Sauvignon Blanc / Sémillon 2008 Oak Valley Chardonnay 2011 Oak Valley Shiraz 2011 Oak Valley Pinot Noir 2010 Oak Valley Merlot Cabernet Blend 2007
PRICE R85.00 R130.00 R150.00 R150.00 R190.00 R125.00
5 OCTOBER Marine Hotel Gourmet Evening, Hermanus
6-7 OCTOBER Elgin Open Wine Weekend: Elgin Flagships
11 OCTOBER Casalinga Gourmet Dinner, JHB
14 OCTOBER Apple Blossom MTB Race on Oak Valley
19 OCTOBER Roots Gourmet Dinner, JHB
24 OCTOBER The Pool Room open to public!
24-26 OCTOBER Winex Sandton, JHB
3-4 NOVEMBER Elgin Open Gardens
Wine 2 Whales MTB Race on Oak Valley
Elgin Open Wine Weekend: Sauvignon Blanc

10-11 NOVEMBER Elgin Open Gardens
Wines 2 Whales MTB Race on Oak Valley
Elgin Open Wine Weekend: Sauvignon Blanc

17 NOVEMBER Wine on the Water, Gordon's Bay
2nd Quarter 2012   Autumn Newsletter 2012
1st Quarter 2012   Summer Newsletter 2012
4th Quarter 2011   Spring Newsletter 2011
OAK VALLEY ESTATE   South Africa   Tel. +27 (0)21 859 4110