Spier, Infinitely better.

Thursday, 7 March, 2013
Shante Hutton, wine.co.za
I may have found my new home at Spier where history, art and sustainability are combined.
I will be the first to admit that I have overlooked Spier in the past. It was always densely populated by tourists so I stayed away thinking that it didn’t have anything to offer me as a SA resident. I love being corrected.

Invited to experience Spier in a renewed way, we arrived at the Spier Hotel on the Saturday with itinerary in hand and camera at the ready.

Spier is all about the figure 8 and by that I mean the sign of infinity. The concept that we should all be living in a cycle that benefits society and the planet; everything is intrinsically connected.

The hotel is bedecked in art work from local artists and it is vibrant and pulsating with color and textures. “Why look abroad for art when we have such a wealth of it here” commented Annebelle Schreuders, Spier’s marketing director. Art and Spier go hand-in-hand and Spier Arts Academy encourages employment-based training which enables students to ‘jumpstart their creative careers and run their own successful enterprises”. Merging both wine and art together brings us the Creative Block wine range, based on the Creative Block art project which sees artists covering a 18 x 18cm blank block however they choose as part of a contemporary art collection. These blocks are then sold for R1200 with collectors able to purchase and then construct and arrange these blocks to produce their own personal finished pieces.

It was only fitting that our first activity of the day should be about the history of Spier Estate which was established in 1692. Researched and written by playwright Brett Bailey, the Gables Audio Tour is a dynamic history lesson narrated by Sannie de Goede, a slave woman on the Spier Estate in 1836. It takes you through the farm’s history and the building of its 21 unique Gables –"the greatest number of beautifully preserved Cape Dutch gables of all the historic farms in the Cape" - and is both amusing and haunting. Though it is a fictionalized account, I can imagine, not far from the truth and walking the steps that others did 200 years before you was humbling.

From the telling of the Gables to the drinking of Spier’s 21 Gables range with a food pairing, the estates tasting room is an ode to the ‘Spier Way’ being modern yet eco-friendly and featuring recycled materials and energy-saving lighting. It’s practical, functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Lunch at Eight followed as well as a quick change into some elastic waistband trousers. There is something about the words ‘locally-sourced’ and ‘grown on the farm’ that can really rev up a girl’s appetite. Eight is a farm-to-table restaurant meaning that it operates on a cycle of infinity – taking from the earth and recycling back into the earth. Where produce can’t be taken from the farm itself, they look to local suppliers but they must offer proof that they operate bio-dynamically and sustainably.

When you visit Eight, ask for Dominic. He’s the restaurant manager and currently studying at the Cape Wine Academy. He’s brilliant. We spent almost two hours chatting about wine with him and having an in-depth tutoring on the Creative Block range. Furthermore, you must not leave the restaurant without having a huge slice of their flourless chocolate cake. I couldn’t have baked anything better and I assure you, I did not share one bit of it.

The pop of bubbly corks and the clink of glasses brought the evening to a close at the hotel’s restaurant with more fabulous food to round off the day.

In the morning, it was almost too much to bear to have to wake up and leave the hotel but the lure of a Segway tour of the vineyards drew us out. These tours have been in operation since 2010 and offer a green way to explore the farm’s protea garden, water treatment facility and vineyard. I felt a bit like a crazed mall cop in the beginning but once I had my balance right, it just seemed ‘natural’. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Described as “The one hotel that’s doing it all” by Conde Naste, when Spier took the Traveler World Savers Award, Spier really offers everything. In addition, I’d like to be pretentious and quote myself, “Spier is epic. More chenin please.”

Favorite wine of the weekend:
21 Gables Chenin Blanc – creamy but still bursting with potential, I would buy now and save for later…if I had stronger willpower.
The modern-look tasting room
The modern-look tasting room

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