What’s on in FebruaryFebruary 23rd, 2023
Midsummer is the season of abundance on the farm – the annual grape and almond harvests are in full swing, and our gardeners are buzzing around between the vegetable patches and fruit orchards to gather their summer bounty.
February is notoriously known as the hottest month in the Boland, so we invite you to come and find some reprieve from the heat. Sink your teeth into fresh summer produce, and keep cool in the shaded spots, ponds and streams in the garden.
This year’s harvest has kicked off somewhat earlier than the previous two years and the berries are showing a beautifully consistent high quality. To beat the heat of the sunshine-drenched days, our team heads to the vineyards in the cool of the early morning, harvesting the grapes by hand. The first blocks of chardonnay and chenin blanc are already fermenting in the tanks where they will slowly transform into our new 2023 vintages. This is also the first year that our winemakers are using two cellars: the Babylonstoren cellar is dedicated to red wine, while our white wines and rosé are made and bottled in a new cellar across the road.
Elsewhere on the farm, the abundant summer harvest is also under way. The prickly pears are ripening and the fig trees are flourishing with their sensual fruits, ready to be picked and devoured in a myriad of ways – freshly sliced with breakfast at Babel or turned into a frosty sorbet for dessert.
Our gardener’s baskets are overflowing with summer staples such as string beans, basil, peppers, and eggplant varieties including Rosa Bianca, Solanum Melongena, Florence, Violet Listada and De Gard. In the nursery tunnels, specialist grower Elzé Bresler and her team are gathering armfuls of heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons, snacking peppers and micro herbs.
5 THINGS TO SEE AND TASTE
◗ On balmy summer days, seek out the shaded spots like the vine pergola, the clivia path along the stream, the bench under the old weeping mulberry tree and the nests around it for little ones. You could also take a seat on the swing under the giant eucalyptus tree near the Puff Adder. Dip your feet into the stream or in the shallow ponds in the citrus block. The Old Bullfrog water spiral is another fun way for littles to keep cool when the mercury soars.
◗ In the Puff Adder walkway, you’ll find dozens of wild fig bonsai trees displayed – some even bear the most adorable miniature fruits.
◗ We’re gearing up for pumpkin season and these golden gems are ripening under their large green leaves in the garden. See if you can spot them, or take a walk through the Snail, the metal-framed trellis tunnel behind the fish ponds, where calabashes like Caveman’s Club and Speckled Swan hang heavy.
◗ The carob trees are shedding their sweet pods – taste their delicious, date-like flavour (just mind the hard seeds) or feed them to our donkeys as a treat.
◗ Next to the apiary, our walnut tree is bearing fruit for the first time. See if you can spot these bright green globes. Inside the apiary the macadamia nuts are dangling below the trees with promise.
Our farm’s almond orchards with their generous yield are an annual highlight at Babylonstoren. The almond harvest has kicked off in earnest and the team is still gathering these precious kernels. We cultivate three varieties – Nonpareil, meaning “without equal” and prized for their soft shells, naturally sweet and buttery taste, and incomparable versatility, as well as Ferragnes and Soleta varieties for crosspollination.
Even though our climate doesn’t always offer the balmy weather required for macadamia trees to flourish, we’ve managed to keep them happy enough to bear their delicious nuggets. After cracking open their tough shells (the hardest shell of all nuts) we extract the rich, buttery cores for an array of treats.
If there ever was a perfect time to discover our winemakers’ secrets, it would be now – during the peak of our 2023 grape harvest. Journey through our underground wine tunnel for a unique cellar tour experience and see the cellar in full harvest swing. Tours include a tasting of our wines in the underground cellar, paired with farm-grown and handmade delicacies. Two-hour long tours start daily at 10h00, 13h00 and 16h00.