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

 

Galenia africana

Galenia is a genus of plant, occurring within the Fynbos and Karoo biomes, but has a wide distribution, from Northern Cape through the Western Cape into the Karoo. The species found on the estate is called, Galenia africana, which can be easily overlooked, as there are several similar looking shrubs. However, it has quite a bright narrow, aromatic, greenish-yellow leaf, and same coloured inconspicuous flowers appearing from October to December. After two days of good unexpected rainfall in January, everything started shooting out and green returned to a lot of the drab wilted looking plants, which hadn’t received enough rain in the last year. This included the Galenia on the property, which were quite drab looking, and suddenly burst into life again, revealing itself all over the estate.

 

As you know Les Hauts De Montagu, went through a name change to Galenia – see blog of 27th June 2016 – but why Galenia?

 

The decision to change the name came about as not many people around the Montagu and surrounding areas, including our own guests who weren’t French speaking, could pronounce it correctly. This led us to play around with several name ideas, possibly Boontjiesrivier? The name of the stream originating and flowing through the property, but Boontjiesrivier is no easier to pronounce than Les Hauts De Montagu. It took us a long time and a lot of pondering to come up with the name, but in fact the name already existed on the property. Whilst out on a walk around the property, we stopped and looked at an old, historical staff cottage called, “Galenia cottage”.

That is when the name came to us, Galenia, it is pronounced exactly as you read it, (Ga-len-ear) without any silent letters, or guttural sounds.

 

The name Galenia, has Spanish origins and means, “small intelligent one” and is used medicinally for the treatment of wounds, eye and skin infections, whereby it is made into an aqueous infusion and then applied. In the Montagu region, this infusion is also drunk, to help with bladder infections and prostrate problems, however, in all pharmaceutical trials no evidence was determined that this is indeed a successful treatment against any of these ailments. So perhaps Galenia africana is still holding on to its secret, but whatever it is – we have plenty of it here on Galenia Estate.

Galenia

Our favourite bubbles

One of the most pleasurable duties of launching the new Galenia is the sourcing of supplies for our guests from this incredibly rich and varied region of the Western Cape. It really is difficult to decide amongst the many growers and producers of food and wine in our immediate area just who to feature on our menus and wine list. Of course we try to support as many of our neighbours as we can as we feel that there is something extra special about consuming food and wine in the location where it is grown and produced. In Italy they call it Kilometre Zero – eating as close as possible to the point of production. We cannot claim to be Kilometre Zero (our guests might be munching on ‘Fynbos’) apart from our own estate-produced Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but certainly the majority of our supplies come from the Langeberg area.

 

It is really a delight to meet the diverse and fascinating people so passionately committed to producing such high quality food and wine.

 

One of our recent ‘finds’ is a superb sparkling wine (Methode Cap Classique) from Silverthorn Wines called ‘Jewel Box’. In true champagne fashion it is fermented in the bottle and a classic combination of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. It is obviously the creation of a truly gifted winemaker – John Loubser- from grapes grown on his farm located between Robertson and Bonnievale.

 

The handpicked grapes are ‘bunch pressed’ producing a precious, if meagre, 550 litres per ton of grapes. The Chardonnay is then given its primary fermentation in stainless steel tanks and also French oak barrels whilst the Pinot Noir is fermented in stainless steel only. This separate fermentation process gives a selection of wines to build a complex blend of the 60% (Chardonnay) and 40% (Pinot Noir) that is then bottled for its secondary fermentation. This wine then stays in the bottle (on the lees) for a minimum of 42 months before ‘degorgement’.

silverthorn_jewel-box-02Jewel Box is described as ‘dry, rich and full on the palate with a soft toasty creaminess – a nose of complex roasted almond and marzipan with a hint of cherry compote and strawberry with a zesty citrus finish’. We agree with all of this, even though we might not be able to be so articulate. Suffice to say that this superb quality MCC wine would leave any champagne aficionado confused but delighted to find that it comes from our native South Africa.

 

We recommend a glass or two as a sundowner or as an aperitif.