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In this month's news from Asara - May 2018

14 May 2018  -  Asara Wine Estate and Hotel

At Asara Wine Estate & Hotel we regard our staff as our biggest asset. Apart from the challenges we face, each department has wonderful stories to share and achieves many successes - often without sharing them. Bells & Whistles is a monthly newsletter - for the staff, by the staff which aims to give a voice to the Asara team, and to enjoy and celebrate good news in our own quirky way. Please enjoy

An exciting first step
Exciting news from the farm is that we will be planting a new vineyard this winter, and preparations are already well under way. The one hectare block, which is situated above the top dam, has been cleared and will be planted with 3000 Pinotage vines. Planting is due to start sometime in August. The block was chosen for its hardy soils and good sun exposure, and because there is an established block close by which is already producing excellent Pinotage grapes. Alan Cockcroft of the farm team says that it will take four seasons before the vines are sufficiently developed to produce fruit suitable for wine-making.

The new vineyard is important in itself (Pinotage is a component of many of our red blends and we need more of it) but even more so because it is the first step in a programme of new plantings that is planned for the next 15 years. The programme, which was developed after extensive soil analysis and in consultation with wine producer body VINPRO, will include approximately 85 hectares of new plantings, and the introduction of some interesting new varieties. Estate Manager Pete Gottgens says: “The programme of new plantings is vital to the future of Asara wines, and it’s exciting to be taking this first step. It reflects the success of Asara wines in recent years, and our commitment to a longterm vision.”

Water: moving to self - reliance
As autumn draws to an end, hopes are high that we will have lots of rain this winter, and we’re off to a good start with over 35mm of rainfall in the final week of April. The estate has now reduced reliance on municipal water by 90%, and a decision on adding a new borehole will be taken in coming months.

A new drainage system has been installed to capture run - off rainwater from the hotel roofs and direct it into the dams, where it will be available for irrigation on the farm (as with the water used in the hotel, 100% of which is processed by the SOG water plant and goes to the bottom dam). Whatever rains we get this winter, Asara’s drive to save water, and everyday waterwise awareness by all, remains crucial.

Taking care of buddy
Housekeeping has supplied extra towels to the security office at the entrance to the estate, so that Buddy, our Alsatian patrol dog, can get a rubdown when it’s wet. Buddy does a number of long patrols of the estate every day with one of his handlers, starting in the afternoon and going through the night, and he enjoys a rub - down afterwards, especially when it’s rainy. One thing that our one year - old canine colleague may be lacking is treats. If anyone wishes to drop off a treat or two for Buddy at reception - please go ahead. They’ll be great for after the towel rub.

Garden team's winter mission
White iceberg roses are an essential part of the look and feel of Asara with an amazing 7500 white iceberg rose bushes lining the driveway and in the gardens and, when they are at their luxuriant best, the roses create an exuberant, uplifting atmosphere at the hotel. White icebergs are indigenous to South Africa, and known for their ability to thrive in hot and dry conditions. Even so, Head Gardener Tommy and his team have struggled to keep the roses at their beautiful best through the current dry spell.

Now Tommy has come up with a new three - point plan to fortify the roses this winter that, he says, will pay off in spring. Tommy says: “I’ve done my research and I’m confident that our new strategy will make all the difference. We will definitely see the roses back at their best in spring.” Sounds good - we look forward to seeing the roses in full bloom again come springtime.

A month of Shiraz & Venison
We liked the Shiraz SA “Seven Days of Shiraz and Venison ” campaign from 7 - 11 of June so much that we’ve expanded it to the whole month!  Join us at our Sansibar Bistro in June for a glass of Asara Vineyard Collection Shiraz paired with Springbok knuckle slow-cooked for six hours in a Shiraz base.
It’s R195 pp, and all participants will go into the weekly draw for a free case of our VC Shiraz (priced at R600) - and get 10% off any purchase at our tasting room (valid only in June).

Harvest 2018 is done
The last batch of grapes for harvest 2018 was harvested and brought into the cellar on the 10th of April. In the cellar pressing, fermentation and pumpovers are also complete. The malolactic fermentation of the red wines, and the fermentation of grapes for our Sun - Dried Sauvignon Blanc, were completed at the end of April. As harvest ended we said farewell to our 2018 ‘harvest winemakers’ (aka interns) with a festive dinner in the vinoteque that featured some notable wines, and an unusually expert group of drinkers to appreciate them! Danielle le Roux, of the winemaking team, says: ‘We had a great group of harvest intern this year - talented, hardworking and full of fun. We enjoyed working with them and making friends, and we will stay in touch.” Farewell to Schalk, Christin, Patrick, Matthieu, Antoine and Vincent, and best wishes for a successful future - and ongoing friendship with Asara.

New focus for events
There will be some exciting things happening in events in coming months, with a new focus on creating unique, tailor - made guest experiences. Asara already offers some unique events such as vineyard dinners and barrel cellar dinners, and Raphael’s offers a stylish ambience with breath - taking views for small to medium - sized functions. The mission for our talented events team - Heidi, JP and Cecil - is to create more similar events, whether for corporate days or special occasions, that celebrate our beautiful estate and its amazing vistas. Heidi says: “The brief from Mr Gottgens is for us to come up with different experiences from those available elsewhere. It’s exciting and incredibly challenging, but, as he always says, ‘nothing is impossible, some things just cost a bit more’”.

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