Nature Trails

One of the advantages of staying on a large estate like Galenia is the ability to walk out of your suite and enjoy the natural beauty of your surroundings. This can be anything from a gentle stroll through the olive grove, admiring the one thousand olive trees, to an equally undemanding tour around our main dam. But for those guests who would really like to see more of the estate we have set out a number of nature trails – some longer, some shorter, some easy walking and some a little more demanding. We can provide a map of the trails but really it is not  difficult to lose your sense of direction – especially if you stay on the marked trails – bearing in mind that you have the mighty Langeberg mountain range behind the estate and the main R62 to the front of the property and clearly defined fences on both the eastern and western boundaries.

 

The Waboom Trail follows the boundary behind the property and can be accessed from either the eastern or western side. It has great views over the estate and over the Klein Karoo to the east and Montagu to the west. It has a series of steps to get up the lower slopes of the Langebergs (from the western side) but it is well worth the effort.

 

The Lost World Trail follows the Boontjiesrivier (Little bean river) up into the Langebergs. It really does feel like you are entering a ‘lost world’ as you walk up through the forested paths until reaching a spectacular look-out.

 

The Protea Trail heads out to the western boundary fence and is a delight at most times of the year with a number of fynbos species of flowering proteas and leucospermums. Great views, especially looking back over the estate, places for resting and to contemplate the beauties of nature.

 

The Aloe Trail visits our resident donkey (Cesar) and sheep (Rosalie) who are always appreciative of an apple or a handful of fresh grass. This trail then crosses the Boontjiesrivier (usually dry) and passes behind the main dam joining our main driveway at the helipad cottage.

 

The Hill Trail, probably one of the most demanding, passes alongside the donkey paddock and then climbs the hill on the western boundary to the very top. This trail has great views of the entire estate and the Klein Karoo to the east and Montagu town and the neighbouring fruit farms to the south and west.

 

On the Eastern side of the Estate we have a number of trails that divert from the main estate ‘road’ which in itself is a delightful and scenic walk to our eastern boundary fence, passing three dams and enjoying views over the Klein Karoo towards Barrydale.

 

The Forest Dam Trail leads across a small stream (there is a log bridge) and cuts back to the main drive and can also be extended on to the Horseshoe Trail which heads down to Fish Eagle dam near to the main gate.

The Lily Trail passes between the dams and can either join up to the Forest dam trail or head eastwards above the Waboom dam to join up with the main estate road. As can be ascertained by its name the early part of the trail has good sighting of Arum Lilies (zantedeschia) growing wild in their favourite ‘boggy’ habitat.

 

On this eastern side of the estate there is also a bird hide located on the second dam (conveniently called Bird Hide dam) – a peaceful place to sit and watch the water birds on the dam and the ever active weavers in the trees around the dam.

 

Whichever trail (or combination of trails) is chosen guests are sure to enjoy the feeling of being in tune with nature and the beauty of the ‘fynbos’ this unique vegetation of the Western Cape.

Trail Hill

Trail Protea

 

 

Spoilt for choice

Being located so close to the wine farms of the Robertson Wine Valley we are definitely spoilt for choice when it comes to sourcing wines for our wine list. Our biggest problem is how to keep it to a manageable number whilst still supporting our neighbours, but still reflecting the variety and quality that this region has to offer.

 

Recently we decided to ‘go tasting’ and in fact as it was so good we decided that we just had to go again and try to work out which wines to feature for this season.

 

Our selection starts from as far away as Robertson with the ‘Gorgeous’ rosé wine of Graham Beck, then Kranskop on the hilly slopes of Klaasvoogds for their exceptional Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz, followed by our friendliest and most picturesque Springfield Estate for our firm favourites of Life from Stone and The Wholeberry. De Wetshof’s Limestone Hill Chardonnay is a tough choice – they produce six different Chardonnays! then on to Excelsior for their excellent Merlot and finishing up in Bonnievale at Weltevrede for their delicious MCC – Entheos. It really is a tour down the Breede River and a great day out as everyone is so friendly and enthusiastic to show off their wines.

 

This year we also decided to include a few ‘exceptionals’ on to our list – wines that are a little different, for those who are feeling adventurous – starting with Springfield’s Wild Yeast Chardonnay (watch out for Candy Floss) also their Work of Time 2010 vintage blend (complex, Christmassy, fruity and spicy), the De Wetshof’s ‘Nature in Concert’ Pinot Noir (pure cherry delight) and Weltevrede’s Hard Rock Cabernet Sauvignon (dark salted chocolate). An old favourite we just did not want to lose from our list is the magnificent Silverthorn MCC Jewel Box, difficult to find but well worth the effort.

 

There are so many wine farms, producing such excellent wines it is really difficult to choose, but we think that we have chosen a good selection of some of the best wines available and hope that our guests will agree.

map

Winter is over and everything is blooming.

At least this week we have had one day with temperatures of 35 degrees!!

It has been a cold winter here in Montagu with night time temperatures down to zero following not one but two ‘cold fronts’ which headed our way. But whilst the days have been sunny it is obvious that the flowering fynbos is not as advanced as it was last year at this time.

We are surrounded by nature and cannot fail to be affected by the seasons, delighting at this time of year with everything waking up and coming into bloom. Here are a few pics of the early bloomers.

 

We are also pleased to see flower buds appearing on our olive trees – we are hoping for a good crop this coming year following our ‘fallow year’ caused by the reduction in height of the trees to make for easier harvesting – it’s a relief to see our ‘super healthy’ trees getting ready to fruit again.

flower-olive

Our Namaqua Daisies at the main entrance have really done well this year and are a bright and cheerful welcome to our new season’s guests – this pic also shows our ‘discreet’ additions to the kitchen and administration office – we feel that it really blends in well and possibly enhances the main house. No doubt we will be hearing the comments of our returning guests.

flower-building

 

When I’m calling you ……….

A recent innovation for our new season – beginning 14th August – will be an internal phone system.

Whilst upgrading our internet reception to create a much more reliable signal for WiFi in the guest suites we became aware that we could also install a VOIP internal system which will allow our guests to not only contact the main office but also to contact other rooms as well.

We see this as a great improvement which will be much appreciated by our guests – and whilst the exercise of walking to the main building when needing service or information was probably good for their health – there is now a technological alternative!

Wifi2.jpg

Water, water – everywhere!

Followers of this blog will know that we have been praying for water to fill our new 50 million litre dam in front of the property. Well it seems as though our prayers may be being answered.

 

In this area of low rainfall – just 250ml per year – we have already had more rain this year to date than in the whole of last year. Our rain gauge is proving very useful in providing this information. Of course it is not the direct rain falling into the dam that causes it to fill but the run off from the Langeberg mountains behind us – this vast expanse of rocks and kloofs act as a huge catchment for the surrounding farms and estates.

 

In a further attempt to find additional water sources we have been ‘flushing’ the existing bore holes on the property and are very pleasantly surprised to see that they are ‘alive and well’ and so by means of solar pumps we are able to have an additional source for irrigating the olives and also for filling the dam.

 

Speculation is rife as to how long it will take to fill up the dam – watch this space!

 

These ‘before and after pictures’ tell their own story. Also for those of you familiar with Geneva – it seems that we have our own ‘Jet d’eau’ here on Galenia Estate – as they were ‘flushing’ the bore holes.

Dam---Before

Dam---after

Galenia-bore-hole

 

Time for a break and a little additional construction

Our first season of operating as Galenia has surprised us all, as we have been far busier than we anticipated. So it is with a sigh of relief that we approach the South African ‘winter’ season and our decision to close for three months (we reopen on 14th August). This is not because we think that the estate is not suitable for winter stays – in fact the South African winter can be very similar to some northern European summers – with bright sunny days, but cool evenings and cold nights. Galenia is well designed for the colder season with log fires in each room and electric blankets on the beds and for those not brave enough to cope with the outdoor shower there is a free standing bath in each bathroom!

 

However this year we have decided to close in order to address a few issues that have arisen whilst operating with such high occupancies. Our kitchen is far too small and whilst we have tried to keep to a well thought out, but restricted, menu – behind the scenes has been pretty chaotic to say the least. So we are in the process of extending the kitchen area to include more storage, preparation and cooking space. Similarly our administration area/store/wine cellar just cannot physically fit in the number of people and the demands made upon it, so it is also a good opportunity to extend that as well. Work is well under way – and we will soon be ready for the thatchers and then Galenia will truly have a new ‘look’.

 

Hopefully all will go according to plan, and time schedule, and it will be finished and fully operational for when we are ready to welcome our first guests of the new season.

building

Galenia Extra Virgin Olive Oil receives International recognition

To say that we were delighted to win two gold and one silver awards in The South African Olive Association 2016 competition is an understatement. As this was our first year of producing our estate pressed oil, we were ‘doing it by the book’ literally, as well as calling in favours from friends and colleagues from near and far to give us their best advice. Well it certainly seemed to pay off.

 

Encouraged by our first year’s success we decided to enter our oil on an international platform by submitting it to the prestigious New York International Olive Oil competition. This is a truly international competition with Extra Virgin olive oils being submitted from most olive oil producing countries around the world. We were quietly confident that our South African produced oil was top quality, but reticent about how it would stand up internationally.

 

You can imagine our response to discover that we had been awarded a silver medal for our Directors Blend. This is particularly gratifying as this was our own blending of two of the three cultivars produced on the estate (Frantoio and Mission) to our own –now secret – formula! As each of the cultivars produces oil of its own particular ‘personality’ and that appears to change each year depending on weather and growing conditions we decided that the Directors Blend would be our selection as to which of the season’s oils complemented each other. Yes there was a fair amount of discussion – less of this, more of that – is it now too pungent? too bitter? – do we need that? In fact a group of amateur olive oil enthusiasts trying to engage their senses of smell and taste to produce a Galenia Estate oil we could all be proud of.

NYIOOC

Well we are certainly proud now!!!