Oude Wellington Wine & Brandy Estate

Oude Wellington is a Wine and Brandy Estate in the middle of the winelands of South Africa. A cozy restaurant, 4 star guesthouse and Alpaca breeding is our way of life and we wine and dine and love company. So feel free to visit and taste the flavours of Oude Wellington

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Name: Rolf Schumacher
Location: Cape Town / Wellington, Western Cape Winelands, South Africa

Monday 01 March 2010

Help yourself

Was that a planned Tree ambush of the water pipe? Did we miss a mortal battle over recourses between tree and plastic? Very neatly the tree has unsuspiciously grown a little root over the pipe and is busy strangling it until it eventually will have to give up and burst. Just in time did we detect the "plot" and rescued the patrons of the restaurant to have to resort to water buckets to flush their loos as this is the main water source for the rest rooms.
Not a very elegant lead over to the next subject but here it is:
In the bigger picture we pressed the Shiraz and Ruby Cabernet today. It is this wonderful smell of freshly pressed grapes and yeastiness that fills the winery and surroundings which always makes this time of the year so special. The heat wave is still in full swing and temperatures soar to over 42 Degrees Celsius. Standing in the pool with a cold glass of Chardonnay and an ice bucket sounds too tempting.


Thursday 25 February 2010

Relaxing days on Oude Wellington. The caption of the photo could read "what a night with the girls out" I caught him asleep in the middle of the evidence :o)
In more serious matters the harvest is in stages as the very hot weather had the grapes ripened very rapidly and harvesting teams were in demand, but Grové was very helpful and quickly adapted to the change in weather by coming a day earlier.
From this side of the warmer part of the globe my congratulations go out to the athlets providing this great entertainment in this winter Olympics.
The Soccer Worldcup on the other hand and specific the Match booking scheme have been very disappointing. For four month we were made believe that we are 60% booked for the time of the games only to get a short letter saying "sorry but we couldn't fill the rooms in the outer lying areas, such as the Winelands". So for all South Africans planning their holidays in the Cape in June, you are most welcome and maybe some of the expensive tickets will appear miraculously on gumtree bargain sale as well.
We were all most gracious thankful for the rain we had last night. The worry of bush fires and breaking the heat being the main objections.


Saturday 13 February 2010

desaster prevented

A loose connection in the main distribution board created an almost dangerous situation. The core of the earth leakage and a neighbouring circuit breaker burnt and only by accident did we detect the fire. The day before we had the new earth cable to the vineyard cottage installed and the electrician must have had the wires crossed. Well, anyway no blame as they did come out immediatly and fixed the problem. That shows you how quickly it can happen.
On the good news side we finally found a new supplier for the brandy bottle ribbons and will hopefully get the rest of the packaging sometimes this month. So now we decided to go to the beach for the day.


Monday 08 February 2010

Murphies Day

You know the rule: What can go wrong will go wrong. It was one of those days I should have stayed in bed. First the electric cable to the bore hole pump burnt out. Probably a root grown into the cable somewhere (the cable is more then a 100Meter long). So quick decision, before searching the fault I rather upgrade the cable since it was a bit weak in the first place. So price comparison showed more then a thousand Rand difference. The company promised delivery by three O'clock, which would have allowed to still install the cable and get the pump going before we run out of water.
While digging the trench our workers managed to find the main underground water pipeline twice ... that is with a pick. So, who needs water witching or divining :o) Last resort was to close all water to all rooms and ourselves, the restaurant, the winery and distillery. That is the moment when you feel the need for a refreshing bath more urgent than ever. Then the phone call came through: Sorry Sir, our guys didn't pick up the cable in Cape Town, it will only be here tomorrow morning. That will have a ripple effect being fully booked the next few days. ... Maybe I should take a nap and maybe it all goes away.


Thursday 04 February 2010


Shiraz is comming in. Since early this morning we are harvesting Shiraz. Unlike the Chardonnay this vineyard was lesser hit by disease.
A short scare with our small herd of Alpacas when one of my oldest females started coughing and develloped a feaver as it were the same symptoms that led to the untimely death of the last female in December.
I learned a lot about swimming pool pumps after taking the pump apart not once but more than 8 times until we found the cause of the leaking problem with the help of Janine a competent woman who has just opened her own little pool service business besides working a fulltime dayjob and raising a child.


Saturday 16 January 2010


It took another day to harvest the lot, not because it was so much but so little and the grapes far apart and in small bunches. To give you an indication how much damage we had in the Chardonnay vineyard: last year we harvested 8,9 tons of grapes from 1,8 ht organic Chardonnay - this year we brought in 3,3 tons which is a loss of 62% against a normal year. After all the cost and care and man-hours this was quite disappointing. We estimated a loss of 40% and thought this to be bad enough. But let us be hopeful and positive the rest of the harvest is still to come. The picture shows the badly effected vine with virtually no grapes hanging.


Friday 15 January 2010


Today we brought in our organic Chardonnay for Cape classic (champagner), which has to come in rather neutral and early. The team of Grove Jordaan, who did last years harvest as well came thankfully in on short notice and cleaned the block in one day. It was a difficult harvest as our Chardonnay block had been hard hit by downy mildew. It wasn't a good year for organic farming, at least here on Oude Wellington. It is a pity because at the beginning of the season the block was promising a very good harvest. The picture shows Grove (left) and Sydney.
But we also have good news. The new Currant Abbey is in the bottle and after approval and labelling will be available again.


Tuesday 12 January 2010

Currant Abbey

After fixing several old "sins" (you know those urgent "fix it for now" jobbies) at the main water pipeline to the vineyards our "handyman" Mervin fixed it good and solid. So that we can eventually come to the main task of the day which is to bottle the first batch of Currant Abbey our Ruby Cabernet based easy drinking red-wine which has become so popular, that there is a waiting list for it. The picture shows Sydney checking glass and logistic in the cellar.


Monday 11 January 2010

The endless water story

Today on Oude Wellington the 4star Guest house status was once more confirmed by the grading council of South Africa. The weather has turned to hot and the grass all around us is dry. Every time we hear a helicopter we are worried a bush fire might be on its way. Meanwhile we had a tragic death of one of our pregnant Alpaca females. Suddenly and without previous symptoms Snowy collapsed and died within half an hour. The vet diagnosed an acute lung infection turned fatal. She was one of the most forth comming animals as we had hand raised her when she was a young kria.
The vines are thirsty and water stressed and at this very moment when we need the water most urgently the main water pipe had to burst. So we spend the day digging out the damaged pipe and repair it.
Harvest is just around the corner now and we are getting the cellar ready, the yeasts ordered and the mind set for this time of the year again when all the efforts of the year are coming together again.


Wednesday 06 January 2010

New Year 2010

It has been a while, but CHristmas and New Year took up so much of my time and energy. Time seems to rush faster in the last quarter of the year than in the rest of it. In the organic vineyards we have been hard hit by Downy mildew (a fungal desease), wheras the conventionallyt farmed blocks are less effected. The grapes are growing, the weather has been cooler than last year and somewhat unpredictable with massive winds and cold spells.
Meanwhile the clock is ticking for the Soccer World Cup. Our first bookings are coming in but not in the amount predicted.
We can proudly present our first 10year old brandy. Unmistakenly flavours of hazelnut and very smooth. 100% pure potstill brandy, unaltered, no additives just water. Our range covers now a 3,5 and 10 year old distinguishable by their colour green for 3 year, black for 5 year and blue for ten year). I had planned the entire packaging in detail like labels (top, front, back, tunnel, tunnel top)to match in colour with the collar ribbon and tunnel colour. But in the Cape before Christmas the entire province goes into hibernation. Even on official days open no work is done, calls are not returned and urgency is spelled S-L-O-W. Needless to say that we did not receive the ribbons nor the tunnels in time for the Christmas trade. Well, all should come up to speed before end of the month ... I hope.
Sydney also made our first natural sweet wine which we call "Dolce" (Italian for sweet or desert).


Monday 17 August 2009

The winner is ...

Today we did the lucky draw of our "win a weekend at Oude Wellington" and the lucky name that was drawn as the winner is Lana George and partner for a weekend in our honeymoon suite.
We had so much interest in our competition that we even added a second price being a one night "sleep over" at Oude Wellington. This price goes to Lynn Coetzee and her partner.

Congratulations to the lucky ones and good luck to all the others for the next competition, which starts from today.


Wednesday 05 August 2009

Marketing department

The newest member of Oude Wellington Estate and in charge of marketing, hospitality and research is Lizel. With loads of experience and ideas she single handed created the "marketing department" here on the farm. Since she took over this well neglected "department" sales have increased significantly as well as our data bank. She is also the one that can with enormous patience get through to Government departments - unlike us common mortals who fail to get past the first friendly "The lady who deals with your query is on training leave" leaving us wonder when she will be trained to attend to our problem. Lizel is always in a good mood even when it gets busy and hectic. With one word it is a pleasure to work with Lizel and our customers are full of compliments about her. As you can see it does get cold in South Africa and I added this picture to make my European friends feel better about their own summer.


Wednesday 15 July 2009

Festival time

The attached picture does nor really belong to the Oude Wellington blog but is just a snippet of the exiting and colourful world of Grahamstown during the National Arts Festival. We spend a week indulging in paintings, plays, comedy, ballet and street crafts. All though the spirit was not as high as last years (the traders and venue owners complaint about over regulation and the new alcohol laws prohibiting night trade)it was again most enjoyable and some extraordinary gems of performances were on offer. I had a whole week with my little daughter who came from Johburg's stress factory to spend the time with me. With one word I enjoyed every minute of the festival and can only enthusiastically recommend this wonderful event to anyone interested in art and theater.


Sunday 28 June 2009

Koos Kombuis

My dear Australien friends the Ross family send me the attached Afrikaans language article from Rapport online. It is the experience of a well known singer who travelled to Wellington wine and brandy route and stopped by Oude Wellington. So click here for the text.Media/Rapport-2009.pdf


Monday 22 June 2009

Winter Time

What are we doing at the moment besides hiding with a glass of red wine in front of the fireplace? On Oude Wellington we are busy with fencing as our neighbour is bringing in sheep to graze on some of the land to keep vegetation low as a fire prevention for the coming season. Sheep arn't the brightest of animals and love to stray away getting into trouble in dongas (deep furrows) and other places of no return. The last few weeks not much else had happend besided the sad story of one of our workers was caught stealing and a dear friend Hannes Adendorff died just last Saturday drowning in a river. He was a skilled thatcher and sole breadwinner of a very large family and employer to many other folks of the area around Bredarsdorp. He will be missed and the tragedy will touch many families
Not easy to lead over to happier events after this one, so here it is. The Country Life magazine published a long article about the Cape Brandy Route including us with a picture of the Oude Wellington kitchen in full page format. If you like you can click here.
The winter rains have come in long and strong with the usual erosion of good soil and blocked drain pipes. It rained into my office and my landrover (but that is part of the Landrover experience).
We started a competition for all wine buyers: one weekend for two on Oude Wellington for wine purchases over 200Rand. For every 75 entries there is a draw. So take the chance and pop in, maybe it is your treat next week.
Todays picture is the proof of Sydney cooking.


Monday 18 May 2009

Finally released

Todays blog are our winemaker Sydney's words.

Being the spirited people we are at Oude Wellington, we tend to have a cheery glass of wine or two in the evenings while watching the sunset with it's pastel rays that infuse the sky before passing into the underworld behind the Paarl Mountains.
Sitting beneath the historic gable of Oude Wellington Manor, on the veranda, we envisioned a wine that would offer an experience to accompany this wonderful atmosphere.

Like we pair food with wine, we set out to pair our fond sunset social with an appropriate wine. The problem we had though was that this wine we sought, which we could almost feel in our soul, could not be found. Evening after evening we set out on the same journey, always to come up with imperfections.

We tried to imagine what this wine could be like and so after many sunsets and many verses spoken we endeavored to try and discover what it may be that which we lacked and so it came to pass that we turned our social senses to what we thought may be good.

We did not have much time, as this was mid-January and the harvest was on our doorstep and so a few more sunsets, a few more glasses of wine and a hive of conversation about a thing we could not completely comprehend we finally came to a sort of theory.

We determined that this perfect wine to pair with our evening delights should at least share properties of crispiness, softness, lightness and suppleness but it should not be flat. That it should be a white wine for summer and in some way be like a Sauvignon Blanc or light-style unwooded Chardonnay, but this was all too much to ask for in one wine. How does one do this, we thought?

The problem with Sauvignon Blanc is that it is far too acidic and generally far too aromatic. This would not be appropriate for our evening social wine paired with this awesome and wonderful setting. Like food with wine, we wanted the wine to feel like a natural part of who we were and a part of what we were experiencing.

Chardonnay on the other hand was just far too rich and very much a "one glass full" type wine! That just wouldn't do, but Chardonnay is a naturally lower acid wine compared to Sauvignon. It was almost like we needed the best of both personalities.

The other problem with most wines is the alcohol content. We most definitely did not want to pass out before the sun had set!

We set ourself goals to avoid these pitfalls and so we stamped out a plan. The plan was to use our organically grown Chardonnay with it's potentially lower acidity and pick it earlier. This would give us lower alcohol levels and avoid over-richness or ripeness. In the cellar we then treat the Chardonnay as if it were Sauvignon Blanc and ferment it accordingly. This was all theory and very untested ground.

We were not sure how it would all turn out, but at least we resolved to drink it all, even if it flopped!

It all sounded like a good plan! Well, like all things, it's easy to dream about something than to actually realize it.

Our first obstacle was unripe tannins. How do we get passed that? Ok, so there is maybe a solution. Let us crush the berries and use only the free run juice but that is wasteful! There is so much juice still in the skins. Ok, so what we can do is make a secondary wine which has still got lower alcohol and use it as a blended partner for one Cap Classic. Brilliant! Ok, now we have it all sassed. Low tannin, low alcohol with clear setting we have suppleness and finesse. It all looks good to go. All we would then need to do is treat it as if it were a Sauvignon Blanc in the cellar. Right!

Not so fast! If you want to make Sauvignon Blanc, you need good cooling in order to make a crisp wine with lower glycerol development so that the wine is not too heavy. Some Sauvignons are fermented at higher temperature for ageing purposes but this is definitely not the route we wanted to take. Our goal was light, crisp and fresh with finesse.

The problem was that the cooling system at Oude Wellington was geared towards red fermentation, thus higher temperature fermentation.

It was too late to change the system. The grapes were coming in. The picking contractor was becoming impatient and I was sitting shoulder-high in grapes, not quite sure where to look for an answer.

The solution finally came from the same source as the grapes. The vineyard.

Instead of installing a new set of fixed cooling lines, we rigged up a temporary solution using vineyard irrigation pipes. After a half day quick fix we were ready to roll!

We crushed the berries off, drained the juice immediately to a tank, chilled the juice to 5 C and settled for 2 days until the juice was crystal clear. We racked the juice to a new tank, leaving the hard-settled solids behind and then brought the temperature of the crystal clear must to 15 C. We innoculated the tank with a european yeast "Eno Aroma K7", a good gentle fermenter which promised elegance for the final wine.

As the wine started to ferment we brought the temperature of the wine gently down to a constant 12 C. The wine gradually fermented for a period of 3 weeks at which time the sugar level had dropped to 5.8g/liter natural sugar.

Acidity and sugar have an inseparable marriage and so it is important to harmonize the natural sugar with the acidity in the wine.

The wine was racked and stabilized and on doing this we excitedly discovered the first signs of what we set out to achieve.

There was still one more major hurdle to pass. Put the wine into the bottle without breaking it!

Bottling is the single most important step in all of wine making! It is the final part of making wine. Do it wrong and you have wasted time, money and effort.

We chose to have full control and bottle in-house. The wine was given a light bulk filtration and then sterile filtered to bottle. After bottling the wine goes into a phase called bottle shock. This can last a day to a year. It is always a nerve-wrecking thing, waiting to see if all your hard work paid off. We were lucky, only a week and it was showing a promise of more than we expected.

We were pleasantly surprised when we received approval from the wine and spirits board with the note that said "not typical cultivars character". This was of course a cause for celebration. We achieved our goal and had created something very special. After all, we married the best part of 2 worlds, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc and all from only a single cultivar Chardonnay.

We cracked open a few bottles at sunset with a crowd on the veranda under the historic gable of Oude Wellington, to celebrate. We realized what we sought to achieve and paired this new wine with our awesome evening experience!

by Sydney Burke


Thursday 02 April 2009

happy guest

Don't these pictures say it all? Our little guest, 3-year-old Emilia, earned her promised Nutella breakfast as a special treat because she and her brother volunteered to dive for the acorns in the swimming pool which regularly stuff up the creepy-crawly.


Saturday 28 March 2009

"Blind", but determined ;-)

I would have loved to add a picture, but I didn't want to embarrass the man. The story is this: I eventually got around buying the proper visor to replace the safety glasses we use with an edge cutter, you know that motorized grass cutter that makes the noise of a giant mosquito. The manufacturer covered the perspex transparent shield with an opaque white plastic for scratch protection.

While I was working in the office, I saw my gardener walking with his head bent far back while cutting the grass in order to peek underneath the shield onto the area he was working on. He was so relieved when I simply took off the protective layer and voila! A clear shield appeared underneath. Which taught me to not take anything for granted and even the obvious has to be taught and explained sometimes. Having said that, I do admire the determination of the gardener to protect his eyes with what must have been the most stupid invention ever from his viewpoint. So let us make life easier and share information, often the little things count.

Yesterday the Brandy Foundation sent a video photographer around to shoot a short introduction to the making of brandy. Soon I will show the result on the website or here on the blog. Today's photo is a mushroom growing on one of the oak trees. Does anyone know if it is edible or what its name is?


Sunday 22 March 2009

Harvest Festival

Two busy days with hundreds of visitors. It was a great success both in fun and sales. We saw many faces from the last years and more and more local people, as well as a smattering of Capetonians. Margret did wine tastings and simultaneously spread good vibes all around. She was a real gem. The parking lot has never been fuller and the restaurant did well with live music and ala carte meals. We heard from many visitors that this event was well-published and advertised, so well done to the organizers and all involved.


Saturday 14 March 2009

Another day in paradise

Something funny doesn't happen everyday for me to write about. Observing the little details and events on the farm sitting on the stoep (traditional veranda) and watching the peculiar behavior of our peacock trying to charm the alpacas was the entertainment of a lazy Saturday morning. This is a wonderful time of the year, right after harvest the swimming pool is sparkling blue and inviting and one can enjoy a hearty breakfast on the stoep watching animals.

Life is bearable -- it is those moments I realize why so many guests come to see and feel South Africa. I felt like a tourist myself today having a sundowner with Vanessa's Vasecco. Cheers to all readers of my silly blog and friends. I wish you could all share this moment.

The harvest festival is on Saturday and Sunday this week. We did a whole day clean up work and finished plastering the new door to the winestore. A few barrels for decoration and generous amounts of whitewash and all looks much brighter again.


Wednesday 11 March 2009

Thirst and lost golfbags

Scary moments when the wine store was open all night because we couldn't finish the fitting of the new barn door in time in the face of very many and very "thirsty" farm labourers. ;-) So today I finally could install the new padlock and reconnect the alarm.

In the cellar the cold stabilisation is under way which is a part of the wine-making process to chill the wine to about freezing to be able to filter out the cream of tartar which are the crystals sometimes found at the bottom of a bottle of wine. These crystals are not harmful. They just don't look pretty. We are also preparing the cold room to become the new brandy store.

My good friends the Sauers from Germany arrived while their golf bag did another round of travelling the world. Finally, after a good night cap (definitely the last drink before bed time ;-)) a miracle happened and the bag ended up arriving before midnight. Another South African visitor made happy. Well done Emirates Airline!

The famous potjie kos (South African national cooking pot) chef Andries Krogman arrived today with his wife Karin to celebrate their third wedding anniversary on Oude Wellington. He is well known for his cooking classes on the Afrikaans TV channel Kyknet with his program "Maak'n Las" as well as a local celebrity.

As you can see I am "obsessed" with arched doors and when it became necessary to replace the wine store doors (since they were totally rotten) I decided to replace them with arched doors. The cost is almost the same, but they look so much more authentic and pretty, I think. Any comments?