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The Great Winelands Shark!


Written by Udo Lütge (pastorshark)

Posted in :Original Content, Reader Submissions, Sharks on 26 Nov 2014 at 10:41
Tagged with : , , , , , , , ,

So the other day I was in that impressive metropolis of Malmesbury for a conference! For all those who have no idea where exactly that is, Malmesbury lies about 70 kilometers north-east of Cape Town. And if you’ve ever actually spent a bit of time there you’ll probably have noticed that it’s not precisely a metropolis. Nor is it really all that impressive. It is charming though; and there are a few noteworthy features to this town in the “hart van die Swartland”:
• It is the home of Bokomo. There is even a Bokomo Street!
• It is basically also the doorway to Namaqualand and its famous flowers.
• And nowadays it is surrounded by winelands – it has a super wine and olive route!

So, what is any self-respecting Lutheran Pastor to do on an afternoon off in a distinctly non-metropolis little town somewhere north-east of Cape Town? Well, I did say there was a good wine and olive route to be explored! So I gathered all my self-respecting Lutheran Pastor friends and off we went. First stop: Riebeek Kasteel! I like to describe it as the Pilgrim’s Rest of the Cape – it is apparently the fourth oldest town in South Africa and its own version of the Royal Hotel the oldest hotel in the Western Cape. It really is a stunning place to visit.

However, it was what we found on the slopes of the Kasteelberg just outside of town that got this Sharks supporter’s heart in a flurry. You see, the first wine farm we found on our expedition was called Kloovenburg. It is beautiful, it is big and it produces wine by the barrelful! Our jovial and distinctly pastoral group was keen to get going with the wine and olive tasting and rushed off to the stunningly appointed tasting room set aside for that sort of activity. I spent a few moments taking photos of the homestead in the lush surroundings and – believe it or not – was the last one to stroll through the doors of the tasting room.

At this stage I had no clue who this wine estate belonged to, but I did immediately notice a range of historic rugby jerseys hanging on the wall between the first set of glass doors and the second. There were 10 of them in all and a closer inspection revealed a set jerseys from the 1950’s and 60’s that made my jaw drop: Ireland, New Zealand Maoris, British and Irish Lions, France, Wales, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand…and of course the jewels in the threaded crown: a green and gold and a navy blue Springbok jersey! Surely there had to be a story behind those!!

So I started investigating – of course, only after having helped myself to a glass of wine and an olive or three. While I was doing that I looked at the big family pictures on the wall and saw a happy and proud father and mother with four strapping young boys with grins on their faces. At that stage I was concentrating more on the excellent wine I was tasting for the first time and didn’t make any sort of connection. But once I got the bit between my teeth and got cracking with my investigation I soon found a series of pictures of 1950’s and 60’s rugby teams behind the door.

Several pictures were of the University of Stellenbosch 1st XV (my Alma Mater for my first career as an engineer!) and several of the Springboks. I went through the names: Jannie Engelbrecht, Piet du Toit, Mannetjies Roux, Frik du Preez, Keith Oxlee – a veritable who’s who of Springbok greats! But which one of them did those jersyes belong to? Aha, there is a message written by the coach or manager on one of those photos…addressed to…Piet! CLUNK! The penny dropped! I turned around…and there – the eldest of the four grinning boys – was our very own Pieter-Steph du Toit. The farm Kloovenburg is owned by the du Toit family. As wine farms go, it is big! It has produced award winning wines and olives. I’ve tasted them all and I can confirm that they are worthy recipients of those prizes.

Of course for us as Sharks supporters, the more important products of that farm are the du Toit brothers. All four of them attended (or still attend!) Hoërskool Swartland – the youngest of them came home and greeted us in his full school uniform. I remember playing against Hoërskool Swartland in 1991 when they had 6 Craven Week players in their side – it remains one of my highlights in High School rugby that our little-known Wartburg side (featuring two players who would go on to play for the Sharks in Ryan Strudwick – who is now in charge of our junior squads at the Sharks – and Carl van der Linde) beat that top side 9-6. Anyway, I digress. Pieter-Steph started his rugby life at that school. He played for Boland Schools at Craven Week in 2010 and for SA Schools in the same year. The Sharks did a top job to get him to come to Durban and he played for both the u19’s and u21’s in 2011. By 2012 he was in the Super Rugby and Vodacom Cup sides and, of course, won the Junior World Champs with the SA u20’s. 2013 saw more Super Rugby, a call up to the Springboks (he has 2 Tests to his name so far) and a Currie Cup winner’s medal. In short: he is a star! His younger brother, Johan, is also in our fold now. Clearly Kloovenburg produces much more than just good wines!

It was tremendously exciting to be at the family wine farm of one of our favourite sons. I had a good long chat – over several glasses of wine – with the very friendly chap who talked us through the range of wines. His name is Willie and he is in the process of helping me get several cases of wine up to KZN. The wine is truly excellent and I will be making use of the very friendly offer that PSdT’s dad is happy to bring a case up for me every now and then when he comes to watch rugby in Durbs! The next time I am in the Cape I will definitely visit Kloovenburg again. You can find out more about them at www.kloovenburg.com – and if you enjoy the odd glass of red wine, don’t be shy to support them!



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