Thursday, January 5, 2017

Pot of gold

Michael - Thursday

Everyone knows that there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow—indeed you can never even reach the end of the rainbow. Well, it’s not true. My cousin Ingrid and her husband Jacques have proved it. They discovered the end of the rainbow, and if there wasn’t a physical pot of gold there, they found something more valuable: one of the most beautiful spots in South Africa - Rainbow's End. Nestled in a horseshoe of the Jonkershoek Mountains, the manor house looks out over the vineyards and proteas across the Banghoek basin. I’m not going to try to describe it; I’d rather show you some pictures taken by Francois Malan.

View to the valley

Francois' son admires snow on the mountains 
First oak barrels
View from the mountain proteas
Wine appreciation must be learned young!
Tasting with Anton and Ingrid
Jacques and Ingrid Malan raised their family in this gorgeous place, farming a variety of crops. Quite an undertaking while Jacques was running a full-time successful engineering practice. Farming isn't for the faint of heart. There is drought, changing markets, uncertain prices, export problems, and plenty of hard work. Then there are fires. The summers here are dry and hot, and they have had several close calls. This picture shows how the fire last year came over the hills behind them and miraculously stopped on the border, just short of their vineyards. 

With the well-known and successful Thelema vineyards across the road, over the years I several times commented that excellent wine might be a real possibility, but many other opportunities offered themselves. However, two of their sons—Anton and Francois—became fascinated by the possibilities of growing grapes and studied viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch. Anton followed up with a spell in St. Emilion. Eventually, at 57, Jacques saw the light, left his engineering practice, and planted vines, celebrating their maiden vintage of Shiraz in 2002. That vintage won a silver medal at the South African young wine show. The 2004 vintage followed with a gold medal. After that their wines have won many awards. I admit I’m biased, but in my opinion they deserve them all.

Francois and Anton
Anton is the cellar master and marketing manager, and brother Francois is the viticulturist and winemaker. Now supposedly retired, Jacques keeps a finger on the pulse. There's plenty about the wines on their website

I’m in the Cape to work with Stan and attend a wedding in Stellenbosch, and that gave me an opportunity to avail myself of Ingrid and Jacques’ generous hospitality.  I wish I could offer you a taste of Rainbow's End's excellent Merlot (not a uniformly successful varietal in South Africa), their Cabernet franc (one of the best in South Africa in my opinion) or their luscious Bordeaux blend—the Family Reserve. Since I can’t, I’m going to have another glass myself. Cheers!


  1. At least bring a bottle or two for our brainstorming, and another two or three for our writing! Please.

  2. Cheers, Michael. What a beautiful place. Wishing you and Stan Buon Lavoro and many yummy glasses at sundown each day.

  3. Stan, now I know why you write with Michael - it's the wine!
    I was interviewing Ian Rankin in mid November- he was telling us about tramping the grapes completely naked. Have you been invited to do that Michael?

    1. Indeed, why else would we write together?
      As to crushing grapes completely naked, all I can say is that the subsequent alcohol will kill most things...

    2. Including people, if taken in excess. Not that any of us would be guilty of such a thing.

  4. Until the Ian Rankin observation I was going to write that Michael's post was almost enough to make me want to start drinking again.

  5. The thought of anybody dangling anything into my drink that wasn't supposed to be there is enough to put me off, I'm afraid! Looks an idyllic place, Michael. Love the name, too.