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From Grape to Glass

Signal Hill and de Trafford make the headlines

Here are some unusual and exciting news about two of our South African winemakers. First Jean-Vincent Ridon from Signal Hill who wins the bid for the first Cape Town City Bowl Winery! He is to set up the first winery in the City centre of Cape Town in collaboration with Laurence Buthelezi from Tukuta wines.
David de Trafford and Rita, his wife, went in search of adventure and climbed the highest mountain in Africa, The Mount Kilimanjaro. To finish it all off they celebrated with a bottle of de Trafford Straw Wine 2001.
Their stories follow.

Signal Hill Winery a first in Cape Town City Centre:

Jean Vincent Riddon of Signal Hill Wines has won the bid for Cape Town’s first inner-city working winery that forms part of the R 1 billion Mandela Rhodes Place Development.
The decision was announced yesterday that the French winemaker-who started producing wines in South Africa in 1997-will move Signal Hill from its city vineyard premises, Clos d’Oranje, in Oranjezicht.
The move will be complete in time for the 2006 harvest.
The full production process will take place on-site, including de-stemming, crushing, fermenting, barreling, bottling and packaging.
The micro-winery will also produce Tutuka wines on site. Tutuka is the only fully black empowered operation in the wine industry, produced by Burgundy-trained Laurence Buthelezi.
The winery is near to Signal Hill’s city vineyard, Clos d’Oranje, in Oranjezicht, which was established in partnership with the Andrag family.
Ridon said: “The vineyard was the first step in our vision of regenerating what was, in the past, a city of vineyards”.
The winery at Mandela Rhodes Place is very close to where South Africa’s first vines were planted in 1655.
Making wine in a city is not new to Ridon who was selected by the mayer of Paris to be in charge of the 2001 vintage of the famous Paris vineyards, Clos Montmartre.
He also operates a similar operation in Istanbul using the same city-winery concept.

Man at the Top – David Trafford Conquers Kilimanjaro

There’s more to winemakers than just making wine. Last year, David Trafford rose to the challenge of Mount Kilimanjaro. Here’s his story.
School parking lots are dangerous places – where obscure thoughts are bandied about after the relief of getting the kids to school on time. This was where my wife Rita and a few others developed the notion that a group of unfit middle-aged parents should drag themselves up the highest mountain in Africa. The group of nine, mostly Moms and Pops from Somerset West, spent several nervous weeks preparing for the big expedition - mostly in the Cape Union Mart change rooms, but also with a few strenuous walks around and about the Boland mountains. Eventually we took our first steps in the massive rainforests that forms a verdant base around the mountain. I was quite excited to see a group of Colobus monkeys for the first time, but we didn’t really have the time to identify many of the interesting forest birds that flitted about. After 6 hours and 1000 vertical metres, we were still in the rainforest for our first evening on the mountain, Umbwe Cave.
Day 2. After an hour the forest began to thin out and we got our first glimpse of the magnificent mountain peak. We could only now appreciate the height we had already reached, with dramatic gorges falling away on either side of us as the Umbwe route winds its way over a rather narrow ridge. The vast plains of the Serengeti lay far below in the hazy distance. The vegetation changes again to tall, bearded heather just above the mist belt. Eventually the Barranco camp beckons with the subtle whiff of several long-drops dotted around the rather bleak camping area. The effects of altitude start taking their toll and smiling required a degree of effort. One of our party, after using the tent as spittoon once too often, decided to head back down the following morning.
Day 3 was our first real struggle – “pole, pole”, slowly, slowly the guides tell us (concentrating on every step) up to Arrow Glacier camp. Plant life had given up at this altitude and we felt much the same. We stayed at Arrow Glacier camp, what is interesting is the virtual lack of glacier – many of the glaciers covering the peak have melted over the past 10 years or so due to global warming and it is predicted that they will all have vanished within the next 10 - 20 years.
Day 4 we reached the crater rim and it was overwhelmingly beautiful in an eerie sort of way with dramatic glaciers and a moonscape of glacial scree.
The morning of the final ascent began at 4:00am with a tea tasting and a dry war biscuit and at -15°C, no-one was keen to be the first to venture out of their tents. Of course, all routes lead to the summit and everyone tries to get there around sunrise, so it was something of a shopping mall atmosphere when we eventually got there. We had a welcome sip of (specially packaged) De Trafford Straw Wine 2001 (Wine 5 stars) and enjoyed our achievement and the beauty around us. The soothing thought of some downhill and the trip to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater that lay ahead drove us happily and safely back down – on our 10th wedding anniversary!. Tanzania was a wonderful country to visit and this was certainly one of the highlights of my life. Perhaps there are some good things that come out of school parking lots!