There’s no doubt that 2020 has been a year like no other. Between an unprecedented pandemic, national lockdown, ban on alcohol sales and months spent isolated indoors and working remotely, we don’t blame you if you find yourself triple checking the dates in your diary to confirm that yes, it is in fact, December.
Yet, it’s certainly not all doom and gloom. The onset of warmer weather means more time outdoors in the fresh air and Level 1 means we can return to relishing so much of what perhaps was once taken for granted such as family gatherings and even going out for lunch. While 2020 will no doubt see a different kind of seasonal celebration taking place due to necessary social distancing, that doesn’t mean you can’t start looking forward to enjoying life’s little joys!
Here at Bellingham, the festive season marks the winding down from a busy year, giving us a moment to rest and reflect before the new year brings with it the hubbub of harvest. In honour of our favourite seasonal shift, we sat down with Bellingham Cellarmaster Richard Duckitt and Winemaker Arlene Mains Hailey and asked them to share the wonderful ways they celebrate Christmas.
From Team To Family Traditions
At Bellingham, before the majority of the vineyard and cellar team clock out for the year, Richard and Arlene help arrange a very special annual end of year gathering for everyone. “Each December, the cellar team go on a day trip, where we first start out by visiting either another winery or a vineyard for an educational tour, just to see what else is going on in the industry or to see what other wineries are doing,” explains Arlene. Richard adds: “It’s an intimate affair, and it often involves a bit of swimming – be it in pools, rivers or the sea. It’s always something to look forward to!”
Of course, once the ‘out of office’ is set, Richard and Arlene both look forward to returning home to spend some well-deserved time with their friends and family. For Richard, this means a rather large family gathering. “It’s that one time of year when everyone gets together. From aunts and uncles to cousins and in-laws, it ends up being a lot of people. Typically we get together at Bainskloof just outside of Wellington, other times on our farm in Darling along the West Coast. I suppose the tradition is simply to be together and enjoy lots of food, gesels and kuiering!” he laughs.
For Arlene, Christmas day is also focused on family – and presents! “When there are kids in the house, it is definitely all about opening presents! It is very important to see what Father Christmas left under the tree. Afterwards, it’s off to church for the Christmas service followed by a hearty lunch, usually filled with the best ‘Christmas wine’, which makes the board games thereafter that much more interesting,” she smiles.
When asked about their favourite Christmas day and Bellingham wine pairings, Arlene replies: “For me, it has to be slow-roasted beef short ribs, in a red wine jus paired with the Homestead Shiraz. It’s an outstanding combination!” For dessert, she recommends trying some almond biscotti served with lemon curd and paired with the Homestead Chenin blanc. Meanwhile, Richard, a self-proclaimed foodie and fan of the kitchen himself says his favourite Christmas Day dish is roast mutton. “It’s actually one of my parents’ specialities. They serve it with roast potatoes and I recommend pairing it with the Bernard Series Small Barrel SMV or the Homestead Pinotage. Another favourite is my mother-in-law’s gammon made in a sweet mustard sauce. It’s beautiful with our Homestead Chenin.” Our mouths are watering at the thought!
A Time To Reflect
As the year closes, we ask Richard and Arlene what lessons they will be taking away with them. Richard is quick to answer: “For me, the greatest lesson 2020 has taught me is to not take anything for granted. We must appreciate what we have. When you have everything, that movement and freedom, you start getting used to it. One thing COVID-19 has taught me is to really appreciate what you have, appreciate the work you have, the family you have, the connections. Every little braai – everything little gathering – it’s all a blessing and we are privileged to have it.”
For Arlene, her greatest learning from 2020 is about people’s resilience. “The human spirit is remarkable! I think with everything that happened over the course of the past year, it would have been easy for people to become pessimistic and downtrodden, however, from what I have observed around me, we didn’t. Rather, we have become stronger and rallied together, and I think that’s amazing!” she concludes.
Savour The Season With Our Homestead Range
For Bellingham, home is where our historical Homestead is, and we couldn’t think of a better way to savour the season than by enjoying one (or all!) of our single varietal offerings from this site-specific, value-driven range. Made in honour of Bellingham’s innovators and socialites Freda and Bernard Podlashuk, we invite you to take inspiration from their hospitable spirit and stock up your cellar for the upcoming festive celebrations.
Whether you’re in the mood for a poolside light and fruity white like our Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc, or something bolder to pair with your Christmas fare like our Chardonnay, Pinotage or Shiraz, our virtual online shelves have been stocked with our entire Homestead Range. This summer season, help to support local by drinking South African wine at the best value and enjoy FREE delivery on all orders within South Africa over R500.
Here’s to closing the chapter on a whirlwind 2020 and looking forward with gratitude for the year to come.
Season’s Greetings from the Bellingham Team!