Kalmoesfontein in the Paardeberg, Swartland, about an hour’s drive northeast of Cape Town, is home to AA Badenhorst Family Wines. Here Adi Badenhorst has carved an internationally recognized wine brand on a farm with luxurious but laidback accommodation and farm-style meals on the stoep (verandah) overlooking the vineyards and mountains. Slow living at its best.
The Old House
The Old House as the original farmhouse is now called, is still the heart of the happenings and the place where visitors relax over wine tastings and meals and functions are held. The cellar with its old open-top fermenters was a mechanic’s workshop when the Badenhorsts took ownership of the farm.
A Team Effort
AA Badenhorst Family Wines is a team effort. Adi and his team make wine; wife Cornelia and sister-in-law Semma and their team run functions, events and weddings and Semma’s husband, Charl, Adi’s brother, runs the kitchen. There is no shortage of creativity and under Cornelia’s décor expertise every event and corner on the farm is curated to bring slow living to its full potential.
Cornelia is the overall creative director of everything that happens on the farm. The family connection goes further: Her brother Hannes is the farm manager while his wife Yvette looks after all the animals. Their cousin Helena is the brand’s copywriter and runs all the social media and web and helps as a wedding coordinator and florist most weekends (and her husband is an impact player in the cellar every harvest).
Charl gets his love and talent for food from Mother Judy who still helps preserve fruit, inspire menus and grow produce.
On one of the farm’s web pages, the pronunciation and meaning of Jomo – the joy of missing out (a feeling of contentment with one’s own pursuits and activities) is given. Wide open skies, farm animals, renowned wine and food, what the team calls Swartland scapes, bring on the Jomo.
Adi, one of the original Swartland Independent Producers that started the revolution transforming Swartland into one of the most dynamic wine-producing regions in the country, believes in natural wines with minimum intervention. It is Jasper Wickens from Swerwer Wines who worked in AA Badenhorst Family Wines for nearly 10 years, who describes Adi best when he says he is an enigmatic man with inspirational – but often crazy – ideas that makes some of South Africa’s best wines.
His latest venture, the Paardeberg Papegaai-2021 Dry Red encapsulates Adi best: He has been described as many things, but near the top of the list is always farmer, winemaker and parrot breeder. This wine brings together those three things in one story, one bottle.
All the components are equal quantities and all the grapes, red and white, were picked together and fermented on their skins. Adi has always had a dream of only making one wine, but started making two, the Family White and Family Red blend. Fast forward a decade or so and he has included the Secateurs range and Single Vineyards ranges too. Shop AA Badenhorst wines here.
But Papegaai is a nod towards that old dream of making just one that screams Kalmoesfontein and Adi Badenhorst. There are many animals on Kalmoesfontein, so many animals that the team has compiled a separate little booklet for visiting guests.
But, up on the hill near Adi’s house is the parrot hotel, a private piece of property where he breeds with parrots. The critically endangered Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus robustus) is closest to his heart. But fewer than 1800 remain in the wild. That is why Kalmoesfontein will always give a percentage of the proceeds of this wine to The Cape Parrot Project, working in research and conservation.
Under his Single Vineyard range names such as Dassiekop-, Kelder-, Klip Kop– and Piet Bok se Bos Steen (Chenin Blancs); Sout-van-die-aarde Palomino; Sk’windjiesvlei Tinta Barocca; Raaigras Grenache; Ramnasgras and Ringmuur Cinsaults pays homages in Afrikaans to their terroir and vineyard sites.
“Not all of these will make it into the range every year. A vintage must shine to get bottled as a Single Vineyard wine,” he adds.
He says their vineyards are mostly old bush vines planted in the 1950s and 1960s to Chenin Blanc, Cinsault and Grenache. Read all about the Old Vine Project here. The vines are unirrigated and farmed as biologically as possible. “The vineyards are planted on the north, east, and south facing slopes bringing tremendous variety to the fruit. Fruit from other selected sites within the appellation are also purchased to complete the Secateurs and Family ranges.
“All grapes are whole bunch-handled so no crushing or destemming takes place. For fermentation and aging, the white grapes are transferred directly into old casks or concrete tanks. The red grapes are fermented in concrete tanks and open wooden kuipe. No additions are done to the grapes other than sulfur before and after fermentation.”
Adi adds that the great old wines of South Africa and the discarded varietals, the bottles of which can be found in the forgotten corners of old cellars before modern methods and fame came along and changed the purity of the wines, is his inspiration.
Charl and Semma’s recipe for Bread-and-Butter pudding
Best served with A.A. Badenhorst – Secateurs, Chenin blanc.
Prep time: 1 Day (if serving cold); 1 hour (if serving hot)
300g castor sugar
8 soft rolls or slices of white bread, preferably a day old
Large handful of sultanas soaked overnight in whiskey or brandy
2 vanilla beans, split (vanilla paste will also work if you can’t find the whole beans)
6 large eggs
Apricot jam or marmalade
Cream for serving
Combine the milk, cream and vanilla beans in a pot and bring to the boil. Meanwhile beat the castor sugar and eggs until creamy. Very slowly add the hot vanilla cream mixture to the eggs and sugar, beating constantly until all incorporated.
Butter a deep oven proof baking dish well; brush rolls or bread with remaining melted butter. Layer buttered rolls/bread in the oven proof dish, while sprinkling sultanas throughout the layers (bottom, middle and on top).
Pour over custard mixture, making sure all the bread bits are submerged. Allow to soak for at least an hour before baking. The pudding will souffle a bit while baking, so take care not to overfill the dish and leave a small space at the top.
Place dish in a Baine marie / or water bath. Fill with boiling water up to halfway of the pudding dish. Pre-heat oven to 200 Deg and place dish in the middle rack. Bake for 30-40min (or until dark brown and crispy on top). Remove from oven and water bath, discard water & brush apricot jam over top.
It’s delicious served cold with cream or ice cream after refrigerating overnight. Alternatively, serve it hot after brushing on the jam.
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