Asian Wine Judge, Sherwin Lao, Visits South Africa

South Africa (April 2013) 071I just returned from another trip to South Africa where I spent a few weeks touring and tasting with Sherwin Lao, a leading wine journalist, judge and consultant from the Philippines.  An expert on Asian wine markets, he has visited most of the famous wine regions of the world but this was his first trip to South Africa.  He wrote a four-part series of articles for Manila Standard Today about what he saw and learned in South Africa’s wine country.  Here’s his first impression…

My first trip to South Africa has been nothing short of astonishing, and I have just been here less than a week. From the time my plane was just about to land at the Cape Town International Airport, I was already captivated by the unparalleled aerial beauty I saw from my window seat. One thing that was so obvious from the onset was how much space there is in this country. South Africa is a huge country with a land mass area of over a million square kilometers, four times the size of Philippines. Yet the population is just 50 million, or half of our population.  Excerpt from “The South African Wine Road Trip Part 1” by Sherwin Lao.

Introducing Sherwin to the history and achievements of South African grape growers and winemakers was a highlight of my 30+ years in the wine business.  Sherwin’s articles and upcoming role as a judge at the annual Michelangelo International Wine Awards of South Africa will help wine enthusiasts from many Asian countries to discover great South African wines from the Western Cape.

The number of wines I tasted in my recently concluded Western Cape trip is more than that of all my previous total South African wines drunk in my entire wine drinking life. Since I have been drinking wines circa 1994, it seems like I have practically ignored South African wines for almost the last 20 years. And honestly, it may not be simple snobbery but more on South African wines’ availability and appeal in my little world here in the Philippines and the neighboring Asian countries I visit frequently. (The South African Wine Road Trip Part 2 by Sherwin Lao)

Our tour loosely followed the itinerary that I designed many years ago for visitors to the Cape and to Silkbush Mountain Vineyards.  We spent a few days at Silkbush where Sherwin stayed at our luxury guesthouse in the unsurpassed Breedekloof district. With his customary attention to detail and comprehensive coverage of each place we visited, Sherman summarizes some key facts about Silkbush:

Silkbush Mountain Vineyards – Silkbush is the English translation of the Sybasberg Mountain in Western Cape. Silkbush Mountain Vineyards has been supplying [the] majority of its grape juices to top South African wineries for over a decade now. The Breedekloof vineyards have been a favorite source for highly priced premium South African Pinotage, Shiraz, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. But now the company is gearing more towards forward-integration and building their own brand equity. The company has the right size (tonnage), excellent vineyards, and a gifted viticulturist in Anton Roos. Silkbush also has a luxury self-catering cottage in Kingsbury Cottage, where I stayed for a few nights, and was blown away by its scenic surroundings, backdrop of the Sybasberg Mountain, idyllic vineyards and indescribable sunset and sunrise views.

I am pleased to have had the opportunity to meet Sherwin and be his tasting buddy and guide. Sherwin’s genuine enthusiasm and appreciation for South Africa’s wine regions will help introduce South African wine to wine drinkers in Asian countries.  In fact, anyone with even a remote interest in South African wine should read his well-written four-part series of articles for Manila Standard Today where he writes eloquently about what he saw and learned in South Africa’s wine country.


How to Get to Silkbush

Here are four routes to get to Silkbush from East, West or South. Start at the lower left corner of this map where is says N-1, then proceed to R101.  From there you can take one of three wine routes (WR): WR1 (to the left), WR2 and WR3. The route labeled R43 is how you get to Silkbush if you miss an important turn. Continue reading “How to Get to Silkbush”

Stay at Our South African Wine Farm

Our Guest Cottage

The overall feel and appointments of the Kingsbury Cottage are viewed as First Class. To start, there are two bedrooms with one King-sized bed, the other, two twins, separated by the two bathrooms, all with new linens. In the air-conditioned cottage, we have a cast iron stove in the living room, heated slate floors, an outside braai (BBQ), firewood, and outside chairs and table, as well as an  and a large hot tub. In short, we believe anyone enjoying a stay with us will feel like they own Silkbush Mountain Vineyard, even if it is only for a few days. Most days, the sunrises are spectacular, the birds are your alarm clocks, and the sunsets take your breath away. Continue reading “Stay at Our South African Wine Farm”