Chris Harvie discovers that, although Hazyview has yet to produce its own wine, the winegrowers are already serving the menu that will accompany the first bottle.
If wine can be produced from grapes grown in Zimbabwe and Tanzania (although the latter’s production from the wine estates around Dodoma leaves much to be desired), why shouldn’t suitable vines grow in the hills of the escarpment between Hazyview and Sabie? After all, wine-making is no longer the exclusive preserve of the Western Cape. Everybody’s doing it, and this will be Mpumalanga’s first foray into the high-falutine world of viticulture.
Truth be told, though, the northernmost vineyard in South Africa, near Hazyview, has yet to bear any wine but the future wine-growers, Thomas and Jacqui Bohm, are already serving tastebud-tantalising lunches with spectacular views over the lines of vines, dozens of ‘other people’s’ wines and the insights of two of the most knowledgeable foodies (and wine-fundis) in the region. And, if wine’s not your bag, there’s beer from the local Hop’s Hollow Brewery on the Long Tom Pass.
Thomas is a scion of the well-respected Bohm family, Lowveld hoteliers of distinction, and Jacqui is an expert chef with experience reaching back into the early boom days of Lowveld tourism. They combined their skills as long ago as 1993 and ran several very popular hostelries together, not least among them the iconic Scrumpy Tom’s Pizza Pub, before climbing a few kilometres up the hill towards Sabie and putting down roots for themselves (and for their vines) on the hillside which will one day doubtless make them famous.
We were feeling somewhat under the weather the day we went, too much wine and not enough sushi after watching Slumdog Millionaire in the rarefied atmosphere of White River’s Casterbridge Cinema the day before, and found the ideal antidote immediately. A bottle of Groote Post Old Man’s Blend, a Thai Pizza and a Windmill Platter to share between four of us. And then another bottle of Groote Post. And then another.
Thomas’s wood-fired pizzas are justifiably renowned. In addition to his spruced-up version of the old Margherita and 4 Seasons favourites, he has a repertoire of interesting Bohm originals. Our Thai Pizza had just the right zing from its chillis and coriander and was the perfect pick-me-up. And how about Sabie Smoked Trout Pizza with capers, cream cheese and chopped chives, for example? Or the deliciously simple Supreme Pizza with brie cheese and green figs.
Jacqui’s Tapas platters are made up of scoops, snips and slices of delicious deli creations, you can create your own or stick to one of the recommended ensembles. Our Windmill Platter was served with home-made bread and listed home-glazed gammon, a gorgeous chunky chicken liver pate, a couple of perfectly-matured cheeses and some local trout. We could equally have supplemented this with peppered beef, pickled fish or any number of other pickles and cheeses.
And still we found space for Jacqui’s malva pudding, I defy anybody to find a better one, served with thick fresh cream, a cup of the local Sabie Valley Coffee and a potstill brandy to wash it all down.
So all we have to do, when the vines finally come up with the goods, is move permanently into one of the Windmill Cottages behind the restaurant and live off Chateau Mpumalanga, chunky chicken liver pate, classy pizza and malva pudding for evermore. I can’t wait.
The Windmill Wine Shop – 15km from Hazyview, Mpumalanga, on the R536 to Sabie
Telephone 013 737 8175 Fax 013 737 8966
Email email@example.com Website www.thewindmill.co.za
Wine shop open 9am to 5pm Mondays to Saturdays
Restaurant open 11.30am to 4pm Mondays to Saturdays
Cottages from R390 per person bed and breakfast