When two iconic families join forces, the result can only be described as spectacular! This is true of the successful collaboration between Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve and the Stellenrust Estate in Stellenbosch, a relationship which has lasted for many years. Sabi Sabi is famous for over 35 years of safari excellence while Stellenrust, one of the largest family-owned estates in Stellenbosch, has been operating since 1928. Having Stellenrust wines as the Sabi Sabi lodge wines was a natural choice and this relationship was cemented in 2010.
The two family-owned brands share many of the same principles that make them both leaders in their respective fields – community upliftment, true hospitality and a passion for, and commitment to their environment and their people.
Innovation runs through both families, and in 2012 Sabi Sabi and Stellenrust came together at harvest time and took a calculated risk, deciding to experiment with a “Bush Maturation” process – an undertaking that seemed impossible and with naysayers saying it would never work! Bush maturation meant maturing wine in a somewhat tropical climate but within a controlled environment. The process – as overwhelming as it was – was accomplished with the transportation and subsequent proper tapping of the wine into two 225 litre French oak barrels. These were housed in the Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge wine cellar at a temperate 18˚C – one barrel containing a Shiraz and the other a Cabernet Sauvignon. Not knowing what the end results would be, samples were regularly sent to Stellenrust for testing and they were given a consistent thumbs up.
The culmination of this pioneering journey was celebrated at the end of June 2016 with the bottling of these wines. And what better way to share this occasion than by inviting a niche group of journalists and friends to witness this resounding success! Stellenrust and Sabi Sabi hosted the event and spent many hours bottling the wine from the two barrels using an ancient and authentic hand press method. This proved to be messy at times, but a huge amount of fun was had accompanied by much laughter. Everyone was given the opportunity to manually fill their bottles, followed by the corking, capsulating and labelling of the bounty with a specially designed label. The final sampling was undertaken and both cultivars were deemed worthy to be part of the Earth Lodge Private Collection – hand-bottled on site and ear-marked to stand the test of time. In essence, the message from the cellarmaster at Stellenrust was “this wine has aged beautifully and gives tremendous drinking pleasure”.
Coupled with this historic event, Sabi Sabi’s Earth Lodge provided a gastronomic feast of exceptional dining, fine wines and inimitable 5-star hospitality.
Only South African wines are stocked in the cavernous Earth Lodge wine cellar, and a detailed selection process is undertaken when choosing the best of the best – unique wines to complement a unique experience. Boutique style wineries that produce award-winning wines take pride of place on the Sabi Sabi wine list – one of the reasons why Sabi Sabi was recently awarded 2-stars on “The Best Wine Lists in the World – 2016”.
This week we introduce you to Brett and Ashleigh Heasman – management couple of Selati Camp. Brett started his career as a ranger, whilst Ashleigh joined us as a spa therapist many years back – they met at Sabi Sabi, got married and have two young children. Under their expert care and leadership, Selati Camp continues to be one of the world’s most loved and romantic private lodges.