Stomp and Sip: Backstage at Beau Joubert Vineyards and Winery

“Caramel popcorn!” Claire shouts gleefully. “I taste caramel popcorn.” Toomuchloveliness, sitting on her right, nods enthusiastically. Baas, the Beau Joubert viticulturist, sits on my left. He cocks an eyebrow and takes a sip of the Sav Blanc in question. He doesn’t seem entirely convinced by the caramel popcorn hypothesis.

Saturday dawned warm and sunny in Cape Town, after a week of premature winter rains. Beau Joubert had invited me to join them for a stomp and sip day on the gorgeous farm near Stellenbosch, which lies at the end of a long oak lane. Hence their ‘Oak Lane’ wine range. Clever, no?

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We were told we would need to work for our lunch and they weren’t lying. Baas handed us each a crate and a pair of shears and gave us twenty minutes to fill it with bunches of the plump, purple grapes which hid amongst the rows if vine leaves in front of us. He may have said something about watching our fingers because the scissors were sharp. Listen, he wasn’t kidding. I took a nice chunk out of my finger and fairly shortly afterwards gave up on my crate. If it’s full enough for Simba, it’s full enough for me.

 

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A tractor came to carry our (heavy) crates down the hill and we all traipsed into the cellar to watch this super interesting contraption at work. The grape bunches are fed in one end of the machine, the fruit stripped off the stalks and the branches spat out one end while the grapes sent off to the big tanks. The light in there wasn’t great, but I attempted a video and you’ll get a pretty good idea of the process.

The big tanks holding the grapes are about chest height and big enough to swim in, which is exactly what happened next. Foolishly, I had (legitimately) left swimming things at home so I stood on the sides snapping pictures in the gloomy light and trying not to get caught in the inevitable grape fight which broke out. Any photos from inside were utterly useless but Nikki is both braver and far more talented than I am, and she got close enough to get some pretty great shots.

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Finally, we got to the important part. The part with the drinking and the eating. My favourite part of any day. I’m not a big wine drinker, despite having parents who wine lovers and who spent much of my childhood in the tasting rooms of various wine farms, while I played on the grass outside with the farm dogs. Happy years. Natalie is much better at wine than me, so if you’re looking to get into this fine art check out her myth-busting tips here. Despite my inexperience, I was really chuffed to be part of the first group of people to ever taste their newly bottled sparkling wine. It needs another year or two in the bottle before it will be ready for sale, at which point you should jump for a bottle because it is amazing.

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Me, I was just happy with a plate of good food, endless cheese and great company. Super thanks to Beau Joubert for hosting us, it was a really beautiful day. Next year, I’ll be the first one on that tank! Thank you to Andrew, Lydia, Baas Ian, Christian and Elzanne for a being such good sports and gracious hosts.

Be sure to check out their website, they also have a stunning cottage and are close enough to Cape Town for a quick weekend getaway which won’t break the petrol-bank. You can find them on the Old Polkadraai Road in Stellenbosch, near La Provence.

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Short and Sweet: The Secret, Pop-Up Cinema Evening

Last night, my good friend Jade invited me along to Short and Sweet‘s secret pop up cinema event at Deer Park Cafe in Vredehoek.

We live in an incredibly beautiful city. The mountain loomed gracefully above us and the sky over the city turned peachy pink and pastel blue and purple. It was an absolutely stunning evening, sitting on blankets on the grass surrounded by an incredibly diverse selection of people. I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of people who came down, many of whom (I’m ashamed now to admit) I would never have expected to see there. From dedicated hippies to families with small children, groups of jocks and one sweet couple who looked like they probably worship at the altar of Kanye. You know. Flat brim peak caps and a diamante manicure. While I sat there, wrapped up in my Tibetan blanket made of 100% yak wool. It was great.

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Short and Sweet is an experiental cinema company who specialise in short films. We watched a selcection of five shorts and a music video, covering a range of genres and topics. Something for everyone’s tastes.

I’m afraid I’ve forgotten entirely the name of the music video and of it’s director, but the others we watched were:

Jonah (directed by Kibwe Tavares)
A new live-action Tanzanian film about a man and a big fish. It debuted at the most recent Sundance Film Festival. Stunning cinematography, plays with surrealism.  Check it out here.
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This Way Up (created by Smith and Foulkes)
“Laying the dead to rest has never been so much trouble.”
An animated dark comedy about two funeral directors, which won an Oscar in 2008.
 
 
Solipsist (Directed by Andrew Huang)
Solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s mind is sure to exist. This one, I’ll be honest, was my least favourite of the films. The woman mext to me kept proclaiming it was brilliant but, frankly, I just didn’t get it. Watch it here and then come back and tell me how uncultured I am.
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Twig: A Calculated Madness (directed by Derek Dunfee)
A surf film following South African surf legend Grant “Twiggy” Baker as he surfs his way around South Africa. Look, I dated a surfer for some years. I have seen plenty of surf films and many of them were phenomenal. This was not. It felt like a half hearted attempt. We have some of the most incredible waves and landscape in the world, they could have done something much more impressive. Step it up guys. (See it here).
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Manipulation (created by Daniel Greaves)
A really fantastic animated film which won an Oscar in 1992. A designer creates and discards a stick figure. The stick figure, when the designer turns his back, suddenly comes back to life. When the designer realises he starts manipulating the stick man. By the end of it you feel bad for the stick man, because the designer is being such a douchebag. Very sweet little film and really amazing animation. My favourite of the lot.
 

The secret pop up cinema is happening again on the next full moon, which just so happens to be 14th February 2014. A little Valentines day celebration with a group of mates? Yes please. Click here to join the event on their Facebook page and watch out for the clues, the venue is revealed at the last moment!

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Bring a blanket and a picnic. The Deer Park Cafe is open and serving drinks. And with Woodlands Eatery and D’Angelos right next door, a fresh pizza is the best picnic.

Lock ‘n Load: The False Bay Firearms Training Academy

I don’t like games.

It’s a weird thing, because in every other aspect I’m totally a joiner. But I just don’t like games. I don’t like 30 Seconds or poker or Kings and I really don’t like team-building activities.

Enter the False Bay Firearms Training Academy!

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I am the most junior person in my office. Still. A year later. But as soon as I heard “department team bonding”, I jumped. And somehow, god knows how, I managed to convince my entire department that learning how to shoot guns was the best team-building activity everrr.

And then I convinced the big bosses and finance too.

CAREER HIGHLIGHT.

If you are looking to learn to shoot a gun and you don’t mind a scenic drive, I highly recommend the False Bay Firearms Training Academy which is located in the beautiful Glencairn Quarry. We were looking for somewhere pretty and nearby to good food and this place ticks all the boxes.

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It was an overcast, damp day which began with a quick lunch at Dixie’s (fresh mussels, monster racks of ribs and juicy steaks). Our instructor, Keith, met us at the quarry for two hours of loud, adrenaline-pumping fun. There are several different options available and we picked option 4, at R350 a head for a minimum of six people, which included the following:

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20 x handgun (at paper scoring targets or steel plates) — Pistol 9mm
10 x rifle (at balloons and steel plates) — M16 or Ak47

The shot makeup is as follows:

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15 x handgun (at scoring target) — Pistol 9mm – Glock and CZ75 –

Shot count made up of —   10 x slow shots for accuracy.

10 x shots “gangster style” – also for score
10 x rifle (at steel plates and scoring paper targets) – LM4 or Ak47
5 x shots per rifle – LM4 has std sights and AK has a red dot tactical sight — so score = X steel plate hits + paper scoring

Plus 10 clays pigeons using a semi-automatic shotgun.

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Packages include the following:

Club entry, Use of safety equipment, use of firearms and ammunition (under supervision), Instruction (Training program – safety and shooting techniques ) – followed by shooting for fun and then for a score.

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If you’re looking for something different to do for your year-end function, I highly recommend this and Keith. He was awesome. The whole day was awesome and so much fun. The biggest skeptics turned out to be the best shots and the biggest mouths (me) turned out to be the worst.

But hey, no black eye this time!

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For more information, contact Keith on keith@firearmtrainingacademy.co.za or check out their website here.