Feeling lonely? Imagine what it was like 300 years ago

Friday, 6 September, 2019
Judy Brower - wine.co.za
I was delighted when Janno Briers-Louw invited me to visit Eenzaamheid farm. I must say I knew virtually nothing about the farm - apart from the fact that Janno's aunt was the head-girl of the boarding house at Rustenberg High School for Girls which I attended for 5 dreadful years!

'Eenzaamheid' is derived from Dutch and means solitude or loneliness.  The farm was apparently so called as Sarah Tas, sister of the more famous Adam, owned and lived alone on the farm, and it is thought this is why it is named Eenzaamheid. She subsequently sold the farm to her brother Adam. Funny how there is nothing new in the world, as Adam Tas was an active protestor against state corruption by Governor of the Cape, viz. Willem Adriaan van der Stel.  
The Briers-Louw family have owned and been farming there for 7 generations over almost 200 years, with the well-known Meerlust Myburgh family also having owned the farm at some point.

I had recently met Janno, who I knew as a very knowledgeable Cape Wine Master and also had tasted his delicious Cinsaut which seems to be his calling card.  After a typical stormy wintry week in the Cape, a most gorgeous day presented itself on Friday 2nd August, and off I went, to the middle of nowhere - or so it seemed!  If you travel north from Stellenbosch past Beyerskloof and Villiera on the R304, go over the N1, and turn right at the next 4-way stop - the farm is about another 9km down the road - set in the middle of farm land in the Agter-Paarl area. Just gorgeous.  A solitary windmill is a recognisable marker for the farm.

The Briers-Louw family farms with cattle (we drove past such beautiful Black Angus), sheep (for wool and meat) and wheat and they have 390 ha under vines, with a delicious fraction going into the Eenzaamheid label, Janno's own baby.  A large quantity of the grapes and wines go to Perdeberg into wines such as their Dry Land Collection, as there is no irrigation, just sensible farming to manage the water and moisture.

We wandered through the oldish bush vines (almost Old Vine level which need to be 35 years old) and I was intrigued as they were experimenting with various types of cover crops. The most popular is Korog which is used extensively outside viticulture as a source of energy feed for animals. When it is rolled flat and mulched in-between the rows of vines, it decomposes well and re-moisturises and energises the soil efficiently. 

Korog is also known as Triticale, which is a cross between wheat and rye, with wheat providing a good fibre, and rye contributing to its long growth cycle. They are testing out a few other crops but this takes years of analysis to see which works best.  Farming really is long-game stuff.
It is pruning season, and much attention is paid to being super-efficient, ensuring the vines grow and produce optimally.

Eenzaamheid must be one of the very oldest farms in the Western Cape - dating back to 1693 - with the same old simple gable in their tasting room which was an old shed.  A very refined, classy, and beautifully decorated tasting room is open by appointment only, as Janno seems to be very much ''man-alleen'' and mostly is found on the farm. 
The farm is apparently called Eenzaamheid because it originally belonged to Sarah Tas, sister to the more famous Adam Tas (after whom the famous Tassenberg and OomTas wines were named). 

Janno and the Briers-Louw family are very committed to the growth and development of their staff and the entire farm is Fairtrade accredited, which is no mean feat. Janno's right-hand man Danwill Arries (fondly known as Danny) has successfully completed SKOP 3, the Cape Wine Academy’s South African Wine Course and busy with SKOP 4. Danny has been attending the Winetech Study Group sessions since 2013 and was one of the top 10 students in 2018. He and Janno do a wonderful job making the wines at Eenzaamheid.

I was lucky enough to take home a few bottles of his wines and opened the 2016 Shiraz which we had for supper with our steak and chips and wow!  We all wanted more when the bottle was finished! I look forward to enjoying the Cuvée  with my waterblommetjie-bredie soon - and this is a very small batch wine - less than 5 000 bottles made - a unique blend of Shiraz, Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsaut and a dash of Pinotage

I must say, eensaam (lonely) it may have been, but in today's crazy world, it felt like a bit of heaven out there

Judy Brower

Judy has been running wine.co.za alongside her hubby Kevin Kidson since 1996. She takes photos, attends functions, writes occasionally, sells wine.co.za services, is Mrs HR at the company, cooks yummy lunches from time to time and generally is the glue at wine.co.za

The solitary windmill
The solitary windmill

Janno Briers-Louw in the vineyards
Janno Briers-Louw in the vineyards

Tasting room
Tasting room

Janno Briers-Louw, Santi Basson (Winetech Study Groups) & Danny Arries
Janno Briers-Louw, Santi Basson (Winetech Study Groups) & Danny Arries

Bush Vines
Bush Vines

Bush Vines
Bush Vines

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