A FOUNDLING IN THE MOUN­TAIN SIDE

Von­del­ing Voor-paarde­berg

Road Trip - - CONTENTS - Story by Paula Ra­bel­ing | Cap­tured by Ryan Ab­bott

From be­ing a win­ery be­long­ing to a Swedish im­mi­grant in the early 18th cen­tury to a sought-af­ter wed­ding venue and con­ser­va­tion area, while still keep­ing the wine­mak­ing tra­di­tion of the es­tate in­tact and of top-qual­ity, Von­del­ing is a fas­ci­nat­ing stop, as Paula Ra­bel­ing found.

Along the N1 be­fore trav­el­ling through farm coun­try on the R44, my­self and a few col­leagues ven­tured into the Swart­land to visit Von­del­ing, a 300-year-old es­tate that mixes wine, wed­dings, and con­ser­va­tion, to re­sound­ing suc­cess.

Our trans­port, a Re­nault Duster 1.5 dci with rugged mus­cu­lar styling, an ar­ray of ad­vanced fea­tures, im­pres­sive fuel con­sump­tion, re­mark­able off-road abil­i­ties, and com­fort­able in­te­rior, was the ideal SUV in which to take on the Swart­land roads, and its 475-litre boot space en­sured we did not have to leave any­thing be­hind.

The Dutch word von­del­ing means “foundling”, the name given to a child who was aban­doned by their par­ents and found and cared for by others. A word more com­monly used in the 18th cen­tury and ear­lier, the farm was named af­ter the foundlings that per­haps trav­elled to the Cape hun­dreds of years ago. To­day, it is still easy to see why peo­ple would have been at­tracted to this land. The man­i­cured lawns that sur­round the tast­ing room, Manor House, and church of Von­del­ing sweep the es­tate in green, and the slopes of the Paarde­berg meet this well-kept na­ture with wild beauty.

Be­sides mak­ing fan­tas­tic wines, the other pas­sion of Von­del­ing is con­ser­va­tion. The es­tate is a proud sup­porter of many con­ser­va­tion ini­tia­tives and has re­ceived awards for its own con­ser­va­tion ef­forts. While some of the land is ded­i­cated to vine­yards, a mas­sive por­tion is re­served for the nat­u­ral fyn­bos of the area, which in­cludes four species unique to the re­gion. Also, a new species

of fyn­bos, the Mi­cran­thus, has been dis­cov­ered on the land.

Af­ter a fire spent through the Paarde­berg in 2011, a botan­i­cal sur­vey was com­mis­sioned by the Paarde­berg Sus­tain­abil­ity Ini­tia­tive (PSI) to­gether with Von­del­ing Wines to record the plant species grow­ing on the moun­tain. From the plant records col­lected, 900 species of fyn­bos were doc­u­mented, of which 10% are threat­ened. Not only did this record aid botanists and plant en­thu­si­asts, the pho­to­graphs were put to­gether into a beau­ti­ful cof­fee ta­ble book, Fire to Flower; A Chronol­ogy Af­ter a Wild­fire in Fyn­bos.

A na­ture walk in the grounds of Von­del­ing brought us up close to its nat­u­ral beauty. Up the moun­tain we went, to hap­pen upon a Dutch East In­dia canon from a by­gone era once used to sig­nal the ar­rival of ships, over­look­ing the ocean in the dis­tance.

Due to its sus­tain­able farm­ing prac­tices and its par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Bio­di­ver­sity and Wine Ini­tia­tive, Von­del­ing has been recog­nised by the WWF as a Con­ser­va­tion Cham­pion, some­thing that the es­tate is proud of, and there­fore con­tin­ues to up­hold a con­ser­va­tion con­scious farm­ing phi­los­o­phy. This phi­los­o­phy has trans­lated into a range of wines en­joyed both lo­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

If you find your­self on the R44 and wish to take a breather among gor­geous sur­round­ings, while sam­pling a few wines, Von­del­ing is a foundling in the moun­tains you will be happy to spend a few hours with.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.von­del­ing­wines.co.za.

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