What’s on in JuneJune 13th, 2023
Winter has arrived in full force on the farm, bringing big, wet spells and signalling a time of rest in the garden.
Winter has blown in with all its might over the Simonsberg, leaving in its wake plenty of muddy puddles where children can happily splash around on those unexpectedly beautiful sunny days. While the first snow is yet to fall on the surrounding mountains, the kapokbos or wild rosemary (Eriocephalus africanus) is coming alive on the Babylonstoren koppie, a dusting of soft, white blooms among the fynbos.
Even while the garden retreats under the covers for the chilly season, it is a busy time of year for our gardeners. We are sowing and planting for the season ahead – cabbages, peas and fava beans – and harvesting the bountiful brassicas in the Moestuin for the farm’s restaurants. In between the slumbering vineyards, we are planting cover crops to replenish the soil in preparation for the next harvest.
Our cellar team has returned from a very successful trip to London where they rubbed shoulders with royalty at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show alongside our sister estate, The Newt in Somerset. The Babylonstoren team poured glasses of rosy-cheeked Mourvèdre Rosé – the official rosé of the show for the third consecutive year – to visitors donned in floral-hued frocks. In fact, they did their job so splendidly that we sold out of rosé before the week’s end and had to fly over a few extra crates.
Out in the Babylonstoren orchards, slowly ripening citrus fruits bring happy pops of yellow and orange to liven up the grey sky. Farmer Ian and his team have already started harvesting the first sweet taste of the season in the form of Nules naartjies, while freshly harvested Eureka and Lisbon lemons bring a tart addition and healthy dose of vitamin C to our restaurants and produce selection. In the coming months we look forward to Valencia and bitter Seville oranges, citrons, kumquats, limes, blood oranges and more.
Under the watchful eye of our green-fingered queen of the nursery tunnels, Elzé Bresler, we’ve been nurturing golden-hued rhizomes in the form of ginger and turmeric. The torch-like turmeric blooms have now toppled over, with summer’s warmth snugly nestled in the tubers, and we have begun unearthing our very first crop of these golden nuggets. They are ideal for stirring into curries or slicing into steaming, cold-busting infusions.
5 THINGS TO SEE
On a dreary winter’s day, few things lift the spirits like a stroll through the garden. Pack your umbrella and wellies and look out for these highlights on your next visit:
◗ Pick a ripe guava and get your vitamin C boost as you enter the garden. At more than 70 years old, our Fan Retief guava trees are among the oldest fruit-bearing trees in the garden.
◗ Come meet the farm’s growing herd of water buffalo that produce the milk we use to make our traditional-style buffalo mozzarella and creamy gelato. Babylonstoren’s cheesemaker, Alta Eybers, and artisanal ice cream maker, Carla Hills, share their secrets in a hands-on dairy workshop where you’ll get to stretch your own mozzarella and try out your own flavours of gelato. These two dairy queens were recently honoured at the South African Dairy Awards where they received top accolades for our Jersey halloumi skewer as well as the chocolate and almond gelato.
◗ Spend some quality time with your braai-loving Dad and celebrate Father’s Day at one of Babylonstoren’s Carnivore Evenings on Wednesdays and Sundays. Gather the whole family for this meaty, six-course extravaganza in the Old Bakery Restaurant. It is an unforgettable experience complete with welcome drinks, red wine and mampoer distilled from our own blood orange harvest.
◗ Follow the sunbirds, orioles and bulbuls into the Garden of the San where the flush of flowering aloes provides bountiful nectar at a time when many of their other food sources are limited.
◗ Make the most of the cold weather by cosying up next to the fireplace in our Tasting Room. Book a wine tasting to sip on our flagship wines, including the 2020 Nebukadnesar, which has just been named red wine of the year at the National Wine Challenge. Cheers!