A recent invitation to attend a wine launch literally stopped me in my tracks – it was from Bellingham Wines. Why did it have such an effect on me, I hear you ask?
In the late 1950s, my parents and I “looked after the farm” by staying in the Guest Cottage, while the iconic and pioneering Bernard and Fredagh Podlashuk made their annual trip to Mozambique.
Bellingham is not generally open to the public and I had not had visited the farm since, so the prospect of going there after a nearly 60 year absence was exciting to say the least. Would everything there seem familiar, or would the decades have erased the memory of much that I had experienced there?
Happily, much was familiar and remembered. Of course the Bellingham Manor House and its rock swimming pool, its guest cottage, and the view of the mountains from the garden, on which we used to play croquet. These were my most vivid childhood memories of Bellingham…..
On arrival, my first view of the homestead took my breath away and although touring its interior brought back no particular memories, it feels like a home and is filled with beautiful things. Missing was my vivid memory of its sunken marble bath with a bunch of grapes-shaped Venetian glass lamp in each corner. The bath was large and one had to walk down a step to get in to it. It left a lifelong imprint in my memory. What happened to it? No one seems to know.
At the kind invitation of that genial giant, Niel Groenewald, Bellingham winemaker and brand manager I paid a return visit to Bellingham, this time accompanied by my 96 year old mother. She too hadn’t visited the farm since the late 50s/early 60s.
Would the visit trigger any Podlashuk/Bellingham memories for her? Well just a few…she remembered the Podlashuk’s as being very generous and caring and that Fredagh always wore extravagant eye make-up. She also confirmed my memory of that glorious sunken bath.
We sat down with Niel for lunch and talked about a whole variety of things, and of course, wine.
My Bellingham memories were not of the iconic Bellingham Johannisburger or their Premier Grand Cru……I was a tad too young to have tasted them all those years ago.
The Bellingham wine range of today has reached heady heights indeed and we enjoyed the opportunity to savour two of their best with our lunch.
Source: Julian Richfield