Last week at Cathy Marston's Wine Course, we were introduced to JD, the winemaker at Steenberg. Steenberg is actually famous for being the oldest farm in the Constania region and has, I think, one of the most interesting stories of all.
The farm was originally owned by one 22 year old widow (!) Catharina Ras. When Catharina first arrived on Africa soil Jan van Riebeek had only been here for 10 years, and women were more for seeing than for hearing, ifyaknowwaddamean. What she found was a harsh landscape with even more harsh ways. Hangings, lashings and brandings were all going down around her and she was the lone woman in a village of men.
Times were tough for a lonely lady, so Catharina immediately married her second husband Hans Ras. Hans wasn't exactly a catch, and he had a bit of a penchant for female slaves. Nonetheless, he had a house on the Liesbeek River and Catharina became his woman.
She was no sooner married, than Catharina's life began to take a turn for the worst. On the evening of her wedding, Catharina and Husband #2 were leaving the ceremony in their carriage, with their guests not far behind in another. Weddings being weddings, the boys decided a carriage race was appropriate. (Some things never change) Obviously, the roads of Rondebosch weren't exactly what they are today, and the race became a little too dangerous for Husband #2's taste.
Outraged by the behaviour of his guests, he jumped out of his carriage and got caught up in a fist fight with them, when one of said guests whipped out a knife and stabbed him in the ribs. He survived this incident and fathered several children before ultimately being killed by a lion (this is Africa, people) some years later. Legend has it that Catharina grabbed her shotgun, mounted her horse and chased down the offending lion, killing it herself.
Poor Catharina suffered greatly under fate's whip as her third husband was murdered and her fourth was trampelled by an elephant! It's hard to believe men were still willing to marry her after all this, but a German called Matthys Michelse became Husband #5.
The Widow Ras, as Catharina was known requested a portion of land from Simon van der Stel which was granted to her for the purposes of cultivating, ploughing, sowing and "to possess". Baron von Rheede tot Drankenstein described Catharina as a fiercely independent woman, "riding bare-back like an Indian and her children resembling Brazilian cannibals!"
So that's the story of Catharina. I think she's probably my new hero. How awesome does she sound?!
To read more about the history of Steenberg, click here.
Steenberg Vineyards is just 20 minutes from Cape Town and offers wine tastings, two amazing restaurants; Catharina's and Bistro1682,
a hotel, a luxurious spa, an eighteen hole golf course and a catalogue of award winning wines.
Steenberg have been super generous and are giving away an awesome prize for Daydrinking Friday!
- A cheese and wine pairing for 10 people.
Taste four beautiful wines paired with four cheeses:
* 1682 Chardonnay MCC - Belroni
* Sauvignon Blanc - Goatsmilk Cheese
* Nebbiolo - Parmesan
* Catharina - Witzenburger
- A case of their Catharina Red 2009 - named after the amazing Widow Ras"The wine is full-bodied and reflects a fusion of the best red varieties on Steenberg: the dark earthy tones of Cabernet, the fresh minty character of Merlot and the perfume notes of Cabernet Franc. Beautiful notes of dark cherries and spice lead the nose with a subtle hint of aniseed. On the palate the wine delivers a complex but elegant structure, with hints of vanilla and cedar oak and a savory character which makes you long for more."
HOW TO ENTER:
- Like Steenberg Vineyards on Facebook
- Follow @Steenbrg on Twitter
- Tweet a link to this post, including @NatalieRoos and @Steenbrg in your Tweet
- Comment below with your name, email address and Twitter handle
*Competition only open to the Western Cape
*Competition closes at 12:00 on Friday, 20 April