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Email: sales@htfwines.co.uk

Hard To Fine Wines

  • GlenWood's People, Community and Environment

    In our previous post on GlenWood, we learned about their history, philosophy and award-winning wines. This post will look at their commitment to people, community and environment as well as the awards and accreditation they and their people have achieved in recent years.

    People

    GlenWood is committed to the development of its people and includes this as an element in its business planning and strategy.

    TRAINING AND AWARDS

    Over the past few years the following awards have been won by people on the GlenWood team:

    - Franschhoek Farm Worker of the Year

    - South African Cellar Worker of the Year.

    GlenWood's Assistant Farm Manager since 2011, Cornel Paulse won Franschhoek Farm Worker of the Year in 2013 and 2015 and placed third in the Western Cape's Farm Worker of the Year in 2015.

    "In line with our staff development programme, we are currently training two people who we hope to enter next year," said Zinaschke Steyn, GlenWood's Assistant Winemaker.

    Assistant Farm Manager Cornel Paulse with his award for winning Franschhoek’s Farmworker of the Year

    Assistant Farm Manager Cornel Paulse with his award for winning Franschhoek’s Farmworker of the Year (Photo: GlenWood)

    PEOPLE ACCREDITATION

    GlenWood's farm and cellar have both earned Wine & Agricultural Ethical Trade Initiative (WIETA) accreditation for legislative compliance, working conditions, workers' health and safety, and housing and tenure requirements.

    The WIETA accreditation is clear evidence of the importance GlenWood affords its people development strategy.

    Community

    GlenWood's involvement in Franschhoek industry and community projects includes Vignerons de Franschhoek and Bhabhathane.

     

    GlenWood is a member of Vignerons de Franschhoek, an organisation promoting Franschhoek wines, wine industry training programmes and supports the efforts of Franschhoek Wine Valley, the region's tourism organisation.

    The Bhabhathane Programme was launched by Alastair Wood, GlenWood's owner. Bhabhathane means change. Its objective is educational transformation in Franschhoek and its mission is to make all schools and Early Childhood Development Centres in Franschhoek centres of excellence. Bhabhathane's understanding is that the people of the Franschhoek valley, particularly local farm workers, will be uplifted through education.

    Over the four years that Bhabhathane has been operating, it has achieved success with its Early Childhood Development Project, Principal Enrichment Project and Teacher Enrichment Project.

    Environment

    GlenWood is committed to protecting the environment and as such, have dedicated ten hectares to the regeneration of indigenous Cape fynbos. The farm also only uses environmentally-friendly agricultural practices.

    ENVIRONMENTAL CERTIFICATION AND ACCREDITATION

    GlenWood has achieved the following certification and accreditation in relation to its environmental endeavours:

    - Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) certification: this is a voluntary environmental sustainability scheme, complying with international criteria.

    - Bio-Diversity and Wine Initiative (BWI) accreditation: this accreditation guarantees sound conservation practices, assuring  consumers that accredited vineyards and cellars follow eco-friendly practices and natural habitats are protected.

    - Wine of Origin (WO): this industry certification assures consumers that wines are produced using grapes from a specific district. All except one of GlenWood's wines are produced using their own grapes, qualifying the wines as Wine of Origin Franschhoek.

    All these additional measures go to show that not only are GlenWood wines fantastic, high quality wines, but that the ethos of GlenWood to support local people, community and environment makes these wines even more special.

  • GlenWood's Award-Winning Wines

    We are really excited to be welcoming GlenWood Vineyards' winemaker, DP Burger, to our Shropshire Tasting Rooms this Friday evening. DP will be hosting a food and wine pairing that will feature six of GlenWood’s wines.

    For more information on the event and to purchase tickets, email us on sales@htfwines.co.uk.

    A brief history of GlenWood Vineyards

    GlenWood started it's history as a general farm in 1811 in the Roberstvlei area of Franschhoek. In 1986, Alastair Wood purchased the GlenWood property. His farming dream was to produce wine.

    “This property immediately attracted me because, not only was it suitable for farming grapes to make quality wine, but it also gave me a wonderful sense of being at the very heart of nature while still being close to the village”, Alastair said.

    DP joined the team shortly thereafter and spearheaded the property's development over the following twelve years, until the farm was fully planted.

    GlenWood's wines

    The farm's 30 hectares consists of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Merlot and Shiraz. Semillon was chosen due to it's traditional link with Franschhoek. The other cultivars naturally suit the valley’s terroir.

    Follow this link for a comprehensive list of GlenWood's wines stocked by Hard To Find Wines.

    Awards gained in 2017

    Below is a table showing the awards GlenWood's wines have received during 2017. You can learn more about GlenWood's achievements and their award-winning wines on their website.

    Glenwood award-winning wines 2017

     

    Philosophy

    All decisions taken at GlenWood are processed through a simple grid of Simple, Natural, Quality.

    Simple

    Simplicity governs taste, design, architecture, business decision, production and so on. In simple terms, the team will always err toward focussing on the basics.

    Natural

    From viticulture practices to winemaking materials and techniques, GlenWood prefers eco-friendly, natural approaches. They are also deeply committed to regenerating and preserving the indigenous Cape flora, fynbos. Learn more about this in our next blog post.

    Quality

    All aspects of the business are underpinned by the concept of quality and this governs every interaction and decision taken at GlenWood, from the cellar to the office to the vineyards.

    Our blog post next week will take a look at GlenWood's focus on people, sustainability and community. Sign up to our blog posts at the bottom of the page so you don’t miss the next installment. Or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for all our news.

  • Meet Mark Davies - an interview

    We caught up with Mark Davies, Director of Hard To Find Wines recently and put some questions to him about the business, wine and life in general (well, as it pertains to wine of course!).

    Question: Please briefly explain your role at HTFW.

    I am currently a man with many hats. From sourcing new wines and liaising with existing suppliers, keeping the website up to date (as much as possible) and boxing and sending the wines from our warehouse. All in all very much a plate spinner and juggler!

    Question: How did you get into the industry?

    Out of university I spent several years working in the catering industry as a chef, so was always surrounded by wine and people with a thorough knowledge of wines. Having worked unsociable hours in a hot and steamy kitchen for 5 years it was an easy decision to jump ship and enter the world of wine importing.

    Question: What convinced you to start HTFW?

    A friend had been working in the wine industry specialising in South African wines and operating on a local basis and was looking to expand his business. In partnership Hard to Find Wines was established.

    Question: How did HTFW begin?

    After 2 days locked in a small office with no windows and lots of awful name ideas, the name Hard to Find Wines was finally settled upon. We felt it concisely summed up what we wanted the company to become, specialising in quality wines from small boutique producers from around the world rather than the commercial alternatives in the big supermarkets and wine outlets.

    Question: What sets HTFW apart from other retailers?

    Although increasing in size year on year, we are still family-owned and run with the ability to offer truly personal service to all of our clients. I think unusually for the wine retail industry, we sustain incredibly close links with all of our suppliers, who in the main part are more like family friends. We also hold stock of all the wines we list so are able to offer next day delivery on the vast majority of our wines.

    Question: How do you choose which vineyards to work with?

    When looking for new vineyards to represent in the UK the search generally begins with some background homework online before jumping on a plane to visit. We usually focus on smaller vineyards with an ethos to quality and craftsmanship much like that of Glenwood Vineyard, where the winemaker DP Burger has been ensconced for over 20 years and is very much hands on.

    Question: Tell us about a highlight since starting HTFW.

    A highlight was actually quite recently when I was asked to organise a re-enactment of the Judgment of Paris from 1976, a famous blind tasting hosted by Steven Spurrier where Bordeaux was pitted against the best of California. In our tasting the US wines came out on top yet again, but was fantastic to be able to taste side by side the likes of Chateau Haut Brion and Ridge Montebello, some of the top wines in the world.

    Question: What is it like working with family?

    Based on our family farm in Shropshire, we have just completed building our new 6000 sq ft storage facility and offices and our old barn and farmhouse converted into a luxury guest house and function venue. Between Harriet and I we handle all aspects of the business, from travelling around the world sourcing new wines to boxing them up and shipping them out. One of us is always on the end of the phone to help customers with friendly and expert advice having generally sampled all of the wines we list.

    Question: What do you do on your day off?

    Being a small family-run business, days off are a rarity, but when I can and the sun is out I am not too shabby knocking a ball around a golf course.

    Question: Tell us about a wine related challenge or failure you faced and how you overcame it.

    Over the past decade it has been an incredibly steep learning curve, with wine being such a huge and complex subject. From not knowing my Claret from a Bordeaux, extensive tasting of all things wine has got me to possibly knowing 5% of what there is to learn! Who knows by the time I am 70 I may be up to 30%. Anyone who claims to know all there is to know about wine is way off the mark, and every week I learn something new.

    Question: What is your favourite wine? Do you stock it?

    Although a cliché my favourite wine is also our biggest selling wine, but in my opinion for good reason. Haute Cabriere Chardonnay Pinot Noir is produced in Franschhoek SA and has been in our portfolio right from the very start. It is a little unusual in that it is a blend of red and white grapes to produce a white wine, but is incredibly versatile and utterly delicious.

    Question: Are you a collector? If so, what is your most prized bottle?

    Through Hard to Find Wines I am incredibly fortunate that I am able to taste a whole range of wines, including En Primeur releases from around the globe. With my work hat on I purchase numerous wines for laying down ranging from the obvious French Bordeaux and Burgundy to Tuscan, Rioja and Napa wines. Personally my budget is a little more conservative, however, I do have a few nicely aged bottles tucked away and a case of Taylor’s 1977 vintage Port which I am yet to delve into.

    Question: What wine do you favour for a special occasion?

    Every Christmas I scour the warehouse for something special for Christmas day lunch. As a treat I always plump for a magnum as there is something a little more indulgent about opening a big format bottle, plus they age more slowly and develop often more integrated and subtle flavours. Last year was a magnum of Bodegas Hermanos Pecina Gran Reserva Rioja 1998 which was superb.

    Question: Where do you enjoy travelling to most for wine related matters and why?

    South Africa is where we started and still represents around a third of the wines we import and is without doubt my favourite wine destination. Wonderful weather, food, wine and people make the Cape an unforgettable experience every time you visit. I very rarely have to book a hotel and instead am welcomed on to the farms themselves to stay with the owners and winemakers. The other major advantage is that within a 2 hour drive of Cape Town you can tour all of the principal wine growing areas of the Western Cape.

    Question: How do you keep up to date with wine trends and industry news?

    For much of the year tastings are on a weekly basis and I often taste over 300 wines per week. Mingling with peers in the industry is by far and away the best way to keep up to date, along with following blogs and websites of some of the top wine journalists like Jancis Robinson and Robert Parker.

    Question: What are the biggest perks of your job?

    Without a shadow of a doubt the biggest perk is the people that I meet and work with. The wine industry is full of individuals all with a passion for what they do and each has their own specialities which you can learn from. The travel and wine tasting is a bonus too.

    Question: What advice can you offer wine novices on choosing wine?

    The most vital thing to remember when choosing a wine is that you must enjoy it personally. Every one has different tastes so do not worry what others think. It is also important to remember that the higher the price does not necessarily mean you will enjoy the wine more. However, with duty and VAT in the UK making up at least £3.50 of the cost of a bottle, for every extra £1 you spend the quality goes up exponentially. Also check the back label, often you will find wines at the cheaper end of the spectrum are mass bottled here in the UK and have lots of sugar and other additives such as egg or fish protein.

    Question: Tell us an unusual/memorable wine tale.

    Even though friends and family know what I do for a living, it still astounds me the number of people who, when invited around for dinner will bring wine! On occasion they will surprise me with a good choice, but invariably the opposite. Recently a friend brought a bottle of artificially flavoured Echo Falls which I promptly tossed out of the kitchen window.

  • Which Event? Where to find Hard To Find Wines

    We have four events currently booked during the months of September and October.

    Oxford Wine Festival

    In September, we will be showcasing our wines at the Oxford Wine Festival as part of a group of the UK’s leading wine merchants. The Festival runs from Friday, 8 September to Saturday, 9 September at the Oxford Union. You can buy tickets to the event on the Festival’s website. If you take a look at the Oxford TV footage on the website, you will see us representing Hard To Find Wines at the 2015 Festival.

    Wozani Three Wine Men

    Also in September, we will be attending Wozani Three Wine Men. The event will be held at South Africa House on the evening of Tuesday, 12 September. You can buy tickets on the Three Wine Men website. Make sure you come and say hello!

    GlenWood Food and Wine Pairing

    Hard To Find Wines tasting room at High Grosvenor

    On Friday, 15 September at 7pm, we will be presenting a food and wine pairing at the Tasting Room of our newly renovated, 16th century Tudor house, High Grosvenor. The South African inspired menu will be paired with GlenWood Vineyard wines and the evening will be hosted by GlenWood's winemaker, DP Burger.

    Join us for this intimate evening! To purchase your tickets, or learn more about the evening, email sales@htfwines.co.uk. Our accommodation package is already sold out, but the food and wine packages are still available. We can recommend accommodation in the area.

    Festival of Wine

    The final event that we currently have booked in 2017 is the Festival of Wine being held in London on Saturday, 14 October in the Grand Hall of One Great George Street. Tickets are almost sold out for this event, so buy your tickets quickly. And make sure you visit our stand and learn more about the wines we will be showcasing.

  • An Evening of Food and Wine with GlenWood

    You are invited to an intimate evening of food and wine pairing hosted by GlenWood Vineyard's winemaker, DP Burger

    at Hard To Find Wines' Tasting Room in Shropshire

    on Friday, 15 September 2017 at 7pm

    UPDATE: all the accommodation packages have been purchased. We do still have food and wine packages available and we can recommend other local accommodation. Just email us on sales@htfwines.co.uk to enquire.

    The evening will include a South African taster menu accompanied by the wonderful wines of GlenWood Vineyards based in Franschhoek, South Africa, and will be hosted by DP Burger.

    DP has been winemaker at GlenWood for 25 years. His family has lived in Franschhoek for five generations. His great-great-grandfather witnessed and recorded the departure of the last elephant from the Franschhoek valley in 1868.

    Venue

    High Grosvenor, our beautiful, newly-renovated, 16th Century Tudor

    High Grosvenor, our beautiful, newly-renovated, 16th Century Tudor house

    The evening will be held at Hard To Find Wines' Tasting Room with accommodation available in our beautiful, recently renovated 16th Century Tudor house, High Grosvenor, for those who would like the option of accommodation on-site.

    Menu

    Fresh and Lush Ltd have created an exquisite taster menu with South African flair that perfectly complements the GlenWood wines.

    Charred mielie & smoked pancetta soup
    GlenWood Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2016

    Biltong croquettes with pepper & paprika salsa
    GlenWood Vigneron’s Selection Semillon 2013

    Chicken & apricot sosatie, lemongrass rice & chimichurri
    GlenWood Vigneron's Selection Chardonnay 2015

    Ostrich, thyme & parmesan ravioli with pickled cabbage & GlenWood merlot jus'
    GlenWood Merlot 2014

    Kameeldorn smoked rump of lamb, roasted butternut, pomegranate & tahini
    GlenWood Vigneron's Selection Shiraz 2015

    Amarula tiramisu with Cape gooseberries & clementine biscuits
    GlenWood Grand Duc Noblesse NV

    Tickets

    Tickets for this event are priced as follows:

    Food & Wine Package - £70

    SOLD OUT: Food & Wine with B&B Accommodation Package- £135

    For tickets and enquiries, please email sales@htfwines.co.uk.

    Do not delay! Places are limited.

     

  • Bladen's Award Winning Wines

    A lineup of Bladen's wine selection including pinot rose, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, gewürztraminer, riesling

    Photo: Bladen Wines

    It is winter now in New Zealand and Christine and Dave Macdonald of Bladen Wines, based in the Marlborough area are hard at work on the results of the 2017 harvest.

    "The 2016 vintage wines have been fantastic and we are thrilled to still have enough stock to run us through a little longer as the 2017 harvest was smaller than we had hoped for.  However, this last vintage is showing great promise from the tanks and barrels we are sampling and the first of these wines will be bottled very shortly," said Christine.

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  • Food and Wine Pairing: Haute Cabriere Pinot Noir Reserve

    Once you have your bottles of Haute Cabriere Pinot Noir Reserve ready to open, why not consider serving them with a dish created by Haute Cabriere's very own chef’s Nic van Wyk and Westley Muller.

    "As chefs, it’s easy to go to a restaurant and be able to know exactly what went into making
    the particular dish you are eating. Sometimes it’s complicated and if we were not chefs, we
    would not even attempt or begin to know," said Nic van Wyk.

    The style of this dish is classic French with a South African twist.

    "Our style of cooking also means that yes, perhaps things take time, but an average home cook can recreate the flavour," said Westley Muller.

    Grilled venison, vegetable pave, sauce cassis paired with Haute Cabriere Pinot Noir Reserve

    Haute Cabriere's Grilled Venison paired with Pinot Noir Reserve

    "A misconception about venison is that it tastes ‘funny’ or wild. With all natural produce, the flavours vary depending on a lot of things, but with most proteins as well, as soon as you add a sauce to it, only the seasoned palate would be able to pick up if a piece of steak was fed grain or organic food." commented Nic.

    Despite the three elements in this dish being rather simple on their own, it will take longer than a stew on the stove, but the chefs assured us it is a relatively easy dish to be able to recreate at home.

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  • Haute Cabriere - Part 3: A sustainable future

    Sustainability and Community

    Achim and Takuan von Arnim’s wine growing philosophy is set out on the sides of a sundial at the entrance to the Haute Cabriere Cellar: Sun Soil Vine Man. This represents their understanding that the elements of nature: sun and soil, work together with the vine to produce great wine, with man gently and respectfully orchestrating these elements as they create the eventual outcome and expression of the vintage. “Great wines are grown” summarises this perfectly.

    The three building blocks that form the foundation of Haute Cabriere are: family, focus on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and Franschhoek.

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  • Haute Cabriere – Part 2: Innovation

    Innovation

    With as distinguished a history as that of Haute Cabriere, it is impressive that the estate has such a passion and drive towards innovation, whilst still showing a great respect and wonder for the past.

    Pioneering has been with Haute Cabriere since the beginning. So what stories of innovation surround where Haute Cabriere is now? There are many, so here we focus on just a small selection that show what makes Haute Cabriere a wine estate that is constantly innovating and developing.

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  • Haute Cabriere - Part 1: A Taste of History

    The Cellar at Haute Cabriere

    The Cellar at Haute Cabriere

    The Past

    The first thing that becomes apparent when arriving at Haute Cabriere in Franschhoek, South Africa, is the immense weight of history that the wine estate bears, going as far back as 1694. To put that date in perspective, in the UK that year, both the Bank of England and Greenwich Hospital were established and according to legend, the year before in France, Champagne was created for the first time by Dom Pierre Pérignon who it is said infamously declared "Come quickly, I am drinking the stars".

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