Matjieskuil Farm has a long history spanning over 300 years, with vines and viticulture a constant theme. The current owners purchased in 2004 and have meticulously restored , under the guidance of “Heritage Western Cape” most of the farm’s historic buildings, including the main Cape Dutch house.
Apart from being a full working farm, Matjieskuil also offers 14 guest rooms (all en-suite) trading under the name “Hawksmoor House” (www.hawksmoor.co.za) Full “event” facilities are offered and Hawksmoor is increasingly popular as a wedding venue, and has previously been awarded the status “wineland wedding venue of the year”. Although there is a resident chef, Hawksmoor is not open to the public as far as a restaurant venue, however, for groups (minimum 12 people) Hawksmoor can offer a wine tasting lunch, either in the historic dining room or on the lawn under the oak trees, in front of the Cape Dutch house. These tasting lunches are offered only by prior arrangement (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In the wine industry it is normal for Estates to buy in grapes from other farms to assist with our wine range. Although we do not make the wine ourselves on site, we have access to the skills of excellent wine makers and generally only use our own grapes. Despite being located in the “postal” locality of Stellenbosch, we fall into the wine region of “Paarl” because our climate is nearer that of Paarl and our grapes tend more to be Rhone varieties, as opposed to Bordeaux. The one exception is our Cabernet Sauvignon, where we sourced grapes from a neighbour, since we do not have this variety and it is also very popular, along with our main reds mainly Shiraz, Pinotage and Cabernet Franc.
Before we start with the tasting we would like to ask you all a few questions as well as to give you a little background about the Farm and History of the property.
The farm was deeded to the by Simone Van der Stel in 1692 . The formation of the farm buildings and main family house is known as the “werf” of the farm. The main, Cape Dutch House being the central feature.
The tradition for these houses is that they started with the single front long section, and as the family/house hold got larger – it would become a “T” shape and then an “H” shape – the property at Matjieskuil is an H shape. Since the Dutch had been used to living it tall thin houses with lots of stairs (those of you who have visited Holland, particularly Amsterdam, will be aware of this)- here they preferred to keep the properties they built, generally as single storey, the top gable window floor, being for show….The gable, however, is not only decorative, it serves a useful purpose, should there be a fire: The roof is thatched, so fire would spread quickly and burning thatch fall to the ground around the house, making it difficult to escape. The gable “fronts” an area where there is no sloping thatch, an therefore acts as a shield to allow the occupants “dodge” burning thatch, and often the “brave” would also hastily use this point of egress to carry out items of value, particularly paintings and furniture.it may be. Often out of 20 people we will get only two people who are able to identify all of the above. Wine can be deceiving and it is amazing how tricky it can be, even to the most educated, and often even to the wine makers themselves! So the answer is that wine is there to be enjoyed, and enjoyed by all, whether the drinker has “the knowledge” or not. As above, the best wine is always the wine you like, and as you learn more, you will enjoy wine more!
Matjieskuil has a lovely view of Table Mountain, albeit Cape Town is about 30 km away. Cape Dutch houses, where possible, generally will face Table Mountain and the reason for this was that when overseas ships arrived at the harbour, a cannon would be fired and farms all around could see the smokes from the top of the mountain, and therefore know that they should load up their wagons with the items they would like to trade, and head for the city.
Matjieskuil is a full working farm, not only producing grapes for sale and production of wine , but also grows oatshay to sell as cattle and horse feed, and has c 60 head of beef cattle. The farm is some 220 hectares in total, c 23,5 hectares being under vine.
On the wine tasting list you will see reference to a behind the scenes documentary of life on the farm, particularly focusing on the life of the farm worker families, who have lived here for generations.
The name Hawksmoor was adopted by the current owners who take particular interest in the architectural work of Sir Nicholas Hawksmoor ( 1661-1736) , a British Architect who designed many famous London landmarks. In particular, Hawksmoor was part of Sir Christopher Wren’s team when designing London’s distinctive Saint Paul’s Cathedral.
At Hawksmoor we are firm believers that the “best wine” is the wine you like!
This should not be governed by price, nor oaking , nor what your “wiser” wine drinking friends may drink! Often our pricing is very much guided by the amount of stock we hold, albeit if we have purchased barrels and had the extra cost of wine making services during an oaking period, then we reflect this in the price, but hopefully succeed in releasing a more enduring wine.
At Hawksmoor tastings lunches, we generally taste wines in sets of three, and then ask those attending to close their eyes and put their hand up when asked which is their favourite wine. If we do this without “blind folded guests” we definitely see a balance in favour of one particular wine- showing a fear of guests to give their true opinion, since, when “blind folded” generally there is an equal balance of “likes” between the wines.
At the end of the tasting, we will often introduce a “mystery wine” and ask guests to choose whether it is one of three varieties that we name; if it is oaked, or unoaked, and what year it may be. Often out of 20 people we will get only two people who are able to identify all of the above. Wine can be deceiving and it is amazing how tricky it can be, even to the most educated, and often even to the wine makers themselves! So the answer is that wine is there to be enjoyed, and enjoyed by all, whether the drinker has “the knowledge” or not. As above, the best wine is always the wine you like, and as you learn more, you will enjoy wine more!