14. Dogs and Cats

Our dogs No tale of the farm would be complete without mention of the various dogs and cats with whom we have shared our lives, and more sadly, the dogs and cats that live around us in the neighbourhood. We arrived on the farm with our beloved Staffy called Jessie and our Burmese cat, Jiminy.…

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13. Staff and Volunteers

Staff at Fynbos have always played an important role in the running of the farm. We employ six or seven permanent farm workers (three or four men and three women), as well as an office manager. The women take care of laundry and cleaning, setting up the guest houses, and providing staff at our events.…

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12. Food, Wine & Dragonridge Products

Luckily for me, Johan is not only a very good cook, but he also loves to cook. This is also lucky for everyone else, as I am truly lousy at it. For many years, where our bookings have included meals, Johan has made the food, while I have done service preparation and front of house.…

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11. The Farmyard

In keeping with my dream of having animals on the farm, I started the farmyard with assorted ducks, geese, and chickens. These lived in the big hoenderhok, which eventually became our Pavilion. I must say we enjoyed this noisy unruly brood, and were especially happy to have fresh, daily eggs with bright yellow yolks. Next…

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10. A Long History

In 2013, I received a call from a Mrs. de Waal with an unusual request. She told me that she was the daughter–in-law of old man de Waal who had grown up on our farm. He was turning eighty, and the family thought it would be a treat for him to visit the farm. We…

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9. The Fire of 2011

Wild fire Paardeberg 2011

The big fire of two thousand and eleven ravaged the Paardeberg for five days and five nights. It was reputed to have started on the north side of the mountain, but with twenty-five years of growth just waiting for fire, it quickly spread and consumed 75 percent of mountain vegetation before it was done. Everyone…

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Swing Dancing Festival

Fynbos was in festive mood this weekend when 72 swing dancers came from all over the world to the farm for a swing dancing festival. They danced their hearts out, had a fabulous Saturday night party with a live jazz band and ate delicious meals from Lise Marie’s kitchen. Happily they are back in March…

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8. Snakes

A boomslang

Like many other city dwellers we arrived at the farm with what can only be described as a pathological fear of snakes. They were for us the archetypal embodiment of terror and evil, and we lived in heightened apprehension that we would encounter one in the garden, or worse, in the house. And quite soon…

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Staff Changes at Fynbos

Last year Virginia Nyamayenedenga, (featured in this post), left the farm. Replacement staff are Monet Goliath, Rowena Goliath and Vinnie Swarts. Monet and Rowena come from near us in Joubertskloof and Vinnie comes from Atlantis.

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Three Years of Workshops

We last posted workshops in 2019, and since then have had all kinds of workshops and events, including weekends of swing dancing, yoga, meditation and plant medicine, as well as numerous university workshops. Most recently we have had two workshops from Stellenbosch University, the first a SRC retreat and the second a workshop of post…

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Priscilla Chigwedere and Charles Gondo

A discussion of `Our People’ would be incomplete without talking about Priscilla and Charlie. A husband and wife team, they have worked for us for over ten years, and their contribution is of such value, that we would not manage the farm without them. Charlie runs the men’s staff contingent and manages vineyard work, winemaking,…

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7. The Wild Land

The Wild Land Paardeberg South Africa

The Paardeberg, some four thousand hectares in size, is a granite mountain range which is host to a unique biodiversity of flora and fauna. Botanically the Paardeberg is part of the smallest and richest plant kingdom on the planet, known as the Cape Floristic Region. Sadly, it is increasingly threatened, with close on two hundred…

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6. 2004 – 2012 Winemaking, Hospitality and the Nature reserve

Winemaking We made our first wine in two thousand and four with friends and much hilarity. We stamped the grapes in plastic buckets on the farmhouse stoep, and then transferred the buckets to a barrel, which after standing a year, produced surprisingly nice wine. The following year we insulated and kitted out a single garage…

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5. The Early Years

It took us at least two years to become fully accustomed to living on the farm. And we were very busy. Johan was still doing some teaching at UWC, and I spent two days a week in Cape Town seeing clients and teaching. The rest of the time, we attended to the myriad of things…

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4. The First Harvest

We were pretty clueless that first harvest. We had close to thirty hectares of grapes – Chenin, Pinotage, Columbard, and Chardonnay – which we somehow had to get from our vines to the Swartland Co-op. Following the advice of our neighbours, we organized to pick up a group of harvesters from the `coloured’ township of…

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3. The First Year

Our first few months on the farm saw us excited and overwhelmed. It took quite a while for us to gather ourselves. Rubbish Our initial activity was to attend to the rubbish on the farm, and to this end we bought a bakkie – a Toyota diesel – and began carting rubbish to the Malmesbury…

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2. Arrival

The morning of the 27th June dawned bright and early. It was a glorious day with glistening sunshine and cerulean blue skies. The pantechnicon arrived in park Villa Street, Observatory, at nine am, and by midday had loaded the possessions we had spent two weeks packing. This included amongst other things the giant elephant Johan…

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1. Beginnings

The farm saga began one Saturday afternoon in our small Observatory house. It was a warm lazy day and Johan and I were sitting in bed surrounded by newspapers. The phone rang. It was the excited voice of our friend Jinx. “Guess what?” she exclaimed, ”Shilo has gotten a scholarship to the architectural school in…

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Pictures from the Wild

Cape Leopard on the Paardeberg SOuth Africa

From the cameras on the mountain there recently came exciting photos of our wilderness inhabitants. The Landmark Foundation (1), devoted to biodiversity conservation in the Western Cape have set up fourteen camera stations in the Pardeberg and Voor Paardeberg. From these cameras have come, amongst other animals, pictures of leopards, a serval and a caracals.…

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Osama Ben Kitty

Osama Ben Kitty, alias Fitz, alias Stripey Pants, came to us as an infant kitten in the arms of a little girl who had found him in the hollow of a fallen tree. He was so beautiful and so vulnerable we immediately got to work feeding him with powdered milk in a small opaque bottle.…

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Harvest & Winemaking 2022

Crate of Vionier grapes

This week we began harvesting and making wine. The grapes are good quality this year but the baboons, growing in number on the mountain, have taken tons off the crop. Here the team is picking viognier which is then taken to the winery to be destemmed and crushed, before being pressed. After settling overnight the…

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After School Programme

After School Game Changer workshop at Fynbos Estate

Closing the Opportunity Gap “After School Programmes enrich learners’ lives and grow dreams.” This amazing programme for learners is run by the department of Western Cape Government, in partnership with the City of Cape Town and a number of NGO’s. They recently held a second workshop at Fynbos. Everybody worked really hard and said our…

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Year End Celebration Specials

Year End Functions near Cape Town Swartland

It is that time of year again and Fynbos is offering four inclusive packages to make it easy for you to book a magical function to suit your budget. Fynbos has a reputation for its delicious country food and farm fresh, locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. Dragonridge Wines, made on the farm, are delicious organic…

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UCT Critical Urbanism Workshop

Research and Design Workshop for Masters Students in the Critical Urbanism Program. This group has come to us twice before – each time with different students. It is a joint program between UCT and the University of Basel in Switzerland. Students spent each day in session in the Pavilion covering the awnings with different colour…

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BDI Tiny Home Project

The Biodiversity & Development Institute  – a non-profit international organisation – has chosen Fynbos Estate for their Tiny Home Project. The BDI team headed by Pete, Dieter and Les designed an extraordinary small mobile home to put up international students coming to do biodiversity research.   The project was launched a few weeks ago with…

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BEST MOVE Pilates Workshop

BEST MOVE Pilates Workshop

BEST MOVE Pilates based in Cape Town brought a number of lovely women to Fynbos for a weekend of rest and restoration, plus two extended pilates sessions in glorious weather in the Pavilion. They enjoyed specially chosen meals and wine, and since many are mothers, they celebrated mother’s day while they were at it .…

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Vinpro / Winetech Workshop

Vinpro Winetech Workshop in the Swartland at Fynbos Estate

Vinpro and Wintech ran a workshop at Fynbos Estate directed predominantly to Swartland grape growers, to assist them in their production. They chose De Perdestal as a venue. They said it worked excellently and the food was delicious. Actually, they were especially treated to a sweet and savoury high tea.

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UCT Research and Design Workshop

UCT Research and Design Workshop for Masters students in the Critical Urbanism Program

Masters students in the Critical Urbanism Program This group has come to us twice before – each time with different students. It is a joint program between UCT and the University of Basel in Switzerland. Students spent each day in session in the Pavilion covering the awnings with different coloured bits of paper and had…

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A wonderful week-long workshop for The Engine Room

The Engine Room workshop at Fynbos Estate

14 members of the organisation The Engine Room spent a week on Fynbos for their annual staff meeting, team building and strategic planning. They describe themselves as follows: “We are an international organisation that accelerates the fight for social justice by advancing civil society’s strategic, responsible and effective use of data and technology. We are…

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The underneath of things

Farm work at Fynbos Estate in the Swartland

I often think about what people want when they leave home and come to the farm, and it seems more than anything they want the perfect and the surface and not at all the underneath of things. They don’t want to see the cleaning of houses or laundering of linens, the weeding of the garden…

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An AIMS group of students spent the week at Fynbos Estate

AIMS South Africa workshop at Fynbos Estate

Photo above, clockwise from top right: Irene Kyomugisha (PhD student), Funmilayo Lydia Makinde (PhD student), Samuel Ofosu Mensah (PhD student) and Mhlasakululeka Mvubu (Masters graduate).Front left: Bubacarr Bah (Research Advisor), Emmanuel Kabuga (Masters student) and Shankar Agarwal (Postdoctoral fellow). African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) is an academic network that enables Africa’s talented students to…

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The death of a precious giant and a tragic story

Quiver trees

A short while ago one of our giant quiver trees keeled over. We are not exactly sure why, but we do know that this is not their natural habitat. They are happy in Namibia and Botswana and further north too. In fact being concerned about them some years ago we had a discussion with the…

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Fabulous volunteers

Mathilde, Martina and Caroline - all volunteers from Germany

Mathilde, Martina and Caroline, all from Germany. Our last volunteers have just been fantastic. One from Switzerland and three from different parts of Germany. All brought the same mix of hard work, flexibility, enthusiasm, warmth and humour. Lisanne from Swtzerland was the first with a gentle energy and ready laugh, and she gardened and cooked…

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A very busy, happy weekend

Tour groups visiting Fynbos farm near Cape Town

This was one of those busy weekends with different groups in different houses, wonderful meals in De Perdestal and swimming and walking and feeding of donkeys. Lots of happy faces. Syngenta To kick things off on Thursday the Syngenta company came for a workshop using the Pavilion and De Perdestal for their sessions. We had…

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A gorgeous country garden wedding

Country garden wedding at Fynbos Estate near Cape Town

Amelia and Doug had a truly wonderful garden wedding here at Fynbos. They were here for many days together with friends and family. They spent time preparing and relaxing and having lots of fun. The wedding itself was gorgeous with people enjoying a happy event in the garden and later partying in the Pavilion. We…

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Lil and Nick’s Garden Wedding

Country garden wedding venue on a farm near Cape Town

Lil and Nick married here at Fynbos this weekend and it was such a delightful wedding. With just 48 people attending it had a really intimate feeling and the love and warmth of this family and their friends could be felt from the start of the event on Thursday till they left on Sunday. Lil…

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After School Game Changer Team

After School Game Changer workshop at Fynbos Estate

The After School Game Changer Team, a project of the Western Cape government, joined at Fynbos for a writing retreat in preparation for their symposium on after school programs, to be held in June 2019. The team is working to build acknowledgement of the work of after school programs as an important educational intervention –…

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Bird ringing at Fynbos

Wild bird ringing at Fynbos Estate in the Western Cape

The BDI (Biodiversity and Development Institute ) exists to create opportunities to do fundamental and applied biodiversity and development research, incorporating both science & humanities perspectives. Their field ranges across all mammals, insects reptiles and birds. The latter is where we have been most fortunate to intersect with BDI. This is the second year that…

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The Art of Living Retreat

The Art of Living Retreat at Fynbos Estate

This weekend we once again hosted an Art of Living retreat at Fynbos. As before this was a retreat based on physical and emotional cleansing, meditation and yoga. Trusha Lakana, the teacher from Durban, again ran the retreat which took place primarily in the Pavilion The Art of Living, now in its 35th year of…

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A wonderful weekend wedding

Country wedding at Fynbos Estate venue

Such a wonderful intimate wedding. Guests, mostly from Germany, enjoyed a wonderful relaxed and playful weekend. The De Haans held their ceremony in the farmhouse garden and moved to the Pavilion for a delicious wedding meal. The couple were joined by their most delicious baby.

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8 Years On

What a delight for us this weekend to have Michele and Brian and their two little girls here for the weekend. 8 years ago they married here at Fynbos and have wanted to return for years and have finally done so. Catching up we heard about the two little girls 6 and 4, their work…

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Cosmic Bubbly Feast!

Sparkling Wine Tasting

Dragonridge is increasingly being recognized for its spectacular bubblies and this year we are celebrating this with a bubbly tasting and canape lunch. Sunday 24 February 2019 at 12h30 It will include a tasting of 3 Pét-Nats (Supernova) and 2 MCC’s (Orion’s Belt) and with 4 Platter Guide stars for our first bubbly submitted, you…

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Amelia & Doug’s wonderful wedding

Right at the close of the year has come the wonderful wedding of Amelia and Doug currently living in Dubai. Guests were here at Fynbos for three days, chilling and prepping for the wedding. The day before the wedding , while the boys went off to play golf, the women (and some men) dressed themselves…

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Fire on the Paardeberg

Fire on the Paardeberg

A few days ago across the back of Sonkop a plume of dark red smoke emerged. We know that kind of smoke very well: it spells fire much too close for comfort. Fortunately the South Wester was blowing the fire away from both us and our neighbour at Uitvlught, but wind easily changes direction. The…

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A fantastic Year-end Party

The Duxbury IT company had a fantastic year end party and stayover at Fynbos The CEO reported: We had a fantastic time. Hope we will be welcome back. Please say a big thank you to Diana and Johan. They were the best hosts.

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The origin of our Dragonridge logo

Dragonridge Natural Wine logo

We are sometimes asked what our logo symbolizes and where it came from. The answer is both simple and complicated, as all things with Johan Simons, our dear winemaker! Johan first fell in love with the concept of the Japanese Ensō circle and recognized the similarities between that and the ancient symbol of the Ouroboros.…

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Elaine Seidel’s wonderful Yoga Weekend

Elaine Seidel's Fusion Vinyasa Yoga Retreat at Fynbos Estate

It was a fabulous success: everyone loved the yoga (and Elaine is a seriously good teacher) We were complimented, the energy of the farm and the venue raved about. Proof of their satisfaction is another booking this time next year. If you like yoga, keep in touch.

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