Time to play boules


An award-winning Stellenbosch wine-farm, a perfect summer’s day, a whole lot of magnums and sixteen determined teams of boules players: the 2013 annual boules day at Warwick Wine Estate dawned on the last Sunday in January.

Despite three unsuccessful attempts by international sporting bodies to get boules included as a summer Olympics sport, Warwick MD Mike Ratcliffe had no bones about admitting international Olympic superstar Ryk Neethling as a contestant. However, much to the ladies’ disappointment, no swimming gear was forthcoming.

However, Neethling, marketing director at Paarl estate Val de Vie, was instrumental in the final team of winos who claimed eventual victory over the foodies, a win which surprised regulars about as much as the findings of the Task Team on President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home caught South Africans unaware. As in the previous three years, Andy Fenner captained the Foodies while Ratcliffe headed up the winos.

Lunch, at long tables under the oak trees, was salad, steak from Frankie Fenner with rolls from Jason Bakery to make up the Prego. With this lot of conscious foodies and hands-on winemakers, it’s possible that the person responsible for catching the yellowtail was present.

frankie fenner Time to play boules

The festivities were enjoyed with magnums supplied by the contestants, and with people like winemakers Adam Mason, Adi Badenhorst, Norma Ratcliffe and Jasper Wickens, and sommeliers like Luvo Ntezo, Neil Grant, Josephine Gutentoft and Ewan Mackenzie numbering just a few of the crowd, the flow of excellent wine was as steady as the conversation and cheers of joy (or despair).

For those who might want to improve on their game before next year’s tournament, or if you’re just looking for a fun way to spend a relaxed afternoon with friends or family, Warwick offers boules to its visitors year-round. If you’re lucky enough you might be in time to try the Warwick White Lady 2011, due for release soon. Ratcliffe said this wooded chardonnay has been three years in the making, and it shows with this delicate and fresh wine which has notes of white peaches and keeps bringing you back to the glass for another sip. This feminine wine showed that it doesn’t always take
balls of steel to be a winner.


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Lauren Cohen
Newspaper journo turned PR guru-in-training; wine aficionado. Lover of life and laughter. Pragmatist. Single.