We have become regular visitors to Stanford, a village about 15 minutes’ drive beyond Hermanus. The main street, with its typically platteland (country) architecture, is dominated by the steepled Dutch Reformed Church – much like a French village, actually, except that the church is not Gothic. In the side streets one can find some pretty houses from a vaguely Victorian era.
Additionally, dozens of houses have been built in the past 10 years, or so. Fortunately for all concerned, Stanford appears to have been adopted by city dwellers with a slightly alternative and more creative bent. One would loosely describe these newer houses as low-budget Cape vernacular, and they hang together quite well.
Sadly, most of the construction in Hermanus (as with just about every coastal town in South Africa) is the most grotesque mish-mash imaginable. Stanford has clearly dodged a bullet.
I arrived in Stanford last night, just in time to join the rest of the group in attending a cabaret-type show by Angels on Horseback. At first I couldn’t believe that a group of sane-looking young people would want to put on a country and western show, but we soon warmed to them. The highlights were Jamie Jupiter’s covers of a couple of Johnny Cash numbers and their performance of the parody song Can’t Buy a Dildo in Texas.
One of the good things about Stanford is its proximity to a number of high-quality wine producers, the nearest of which is Raka. Having knocked back the complimentary Glendower whisky on arrival (very nice), we got stuck into a bottle of Raka’s Quinary, which went down well. The real find of the evening, though, was a Bordeaux-style blend from Hermanuspietersfontein, called Kleinboet. At R99 on the wine list of the Stanford Arms it is one of the most amazing wine bargains I have ever bought. It was so delicious that – despite our advanced state of inebriation – we felt compelled to buy another bottle. By this point they’d picked up a pricing error, but even at R120 it was still a bargain.
Kleinboet is an affectionate Afrikaans word meaning “little brother” and it is so named because it is the understudy to a wine they call Arnoldus. Given our experience of Kleinboet, Arnoldus must be pretty damn amazing.
Hermanuspietersfontein was the original name for Hermanus, thankfully shortened by a prescient postmaster. The wines are made by Bartho Eksteen, who is one of the more eccentric of the ‘interesting’ people who have made the choice to become winemakers. One can’t dispute, though, that he makes really, really good wine. Interestingly, the label copy for all their wines is in Afrikaans only (an extension of the winemaker’s quirkiness, perhaps?).
Hermanuspietersfontein (the winery) has become known as HPF (clearly Hermanuspietersfontein is a name that is destined never to stick). The touch of marketing man Gerrie Heyneke is evident in their excellent website http://hpf1855.co.za – for all the doubts that Afrikaans back labels may raise about their ability to communicate, the website is attractive, easy to navigate and tells the story well.
Kleinboet and I are getting on slightly less well this morning, but I have no doubt that the friendship will be rekindled soon.