Go Darke

Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it

Travel

Vergelegen

Dear Progenies

If I remember my history classes… which now in themselves feel like ancient history, the first thing the Dutch colonists did when they arrived at the Cape of Good Hope was… eh… well actually pretty much the first thing they did was get off the boat and start bonking the locals. Four months of rationed Jenever, weevil infested Maasdam and nary a six foot female in sight meant they were pretty desperate to play hide the Rookworst. Putting aside the fact that most of them were hardcore Calvinists I mean.

The second thing they did, on pulling up their trousers was… probably shoot some of the locals, who hadn’t quite come to terms with the new normal of ‘property rights’. BUT after that, they likely took a deep drag from their pipe1, surveyed the lay of the land and thought, ‘Hm… grapes (and its associated products) would probably do really well here’… which coincidentally would lead to more of the locals being ploughed and/or shot. And really, since 1652, not much has changed.

[1] Cannabis was already in popular use in South Africa by the indigenous Khoisan and Bantu peoples prior to European settlement in the Cape

I mean the upside to all this is that the Cape now has a mind-boggling number of vineyards set in some of the prettiest places which make some of the best wines in the world. (the French might argue the point… but your Corsican emperor, while imprisoned on St. Helena had, on request, more than 1000 liters of wine imported not from Bordeaux but the Klein Constantia estate in South Africa… and while not a native, he was kinda your guy)

Having said that, getting into which wines and farms are the best and nicest is… well its silly. And sometimes these things devolve into a contact sport between participants. Vergelegen and Babylonstoren are usually in everyone’s top five (South African) list though. Unless someone really wants to set themselves apart with a pretentious niche selection (can’t be part of the alcoholic-proletariat after all)

I really like Vergelegen.

Dutch for, ‘Rather-far-away’, because if you were to leave from the Star-fort the Dutch built on the beach in Cape Town, its a 50km journey. Which, I suppose on horse-back or stage-coach or whatever it was, makes it not a ‘whimsical-lets-go-for-breakfast-destination’. But thanks to planet destroying petroleum very little is (completely) out of reach anymore as a bacon-and-avocado-on-artisanal-bread objective.

The thing about wine is that it needs barrels. South Africa didn’t really have an indigenous source of wood that would fulfill that commercial need so hundreds and thousands of oak tress were imported from Europe to meet the demand. You can argue whether this was a good or a bad thing… but it is a thing, and the results now are everywhere.

Upside is now you can do your ambling mostly in the shade and avoid overexposing yourself to Vitamin D and cancer. Things I tend to chalk up as a win.

Vergelegen is nice because you can wander around the estate and there is loads for kids to explore. I mean even if you don’t have whipper-snappers that need to be exhausted through strenuous pursuits (this is a common parenting technique right?), its nice to get out and about and get your meandering on.

Consulting the map.

Quite a mighty river runs through it. By South African standards I mean. Northern hemisphere peeps would probably consider it a stream or a creek. Those are diminutive forms of the river-noun right? It is however traversable by a rope suspension bridge, there are several mazes (the regular hedge kind and at least vine one) and a very decent play ground.

If you don’t want to eat at the restaurant, they’ll pack you a picnic and you can go eat under the trees somewhere. All of which, in my opinion, rack up the points in the plus-column.

You can also go and get shit-faced in the tasting room if that’s your thing. Having bred these pursuits are now largely off the table. Maybe when I’m all grown up and I have less responsibility again. I’m on my way to the zenith of my accountability phase right now. One day it will be downhill again… towards… eh… well death, eventually. But also other stuff. Like riding motorcycles. (another pursuit that is on hiatus at the moment)

In the meantime its letting the kids run around off-leash, drinking cortado’s and nibbling on bread, micro-greens and cheese. Its not a bad lot.

In any event, I hope you are well and playing nicely.

Godspeed and good luck.

+++

Travel

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