“if you love what you do you will never work a day in your life”
I agree, but I also don’t. I love what I do for a living (even though it is very hard to explain it to people) But I have also never worked harder in my entire life. I have never worked longer hours, learned more, managed more and I have never felt more accomplished.
I have touched on what I do but never really explained it. I am Lydia Afonso and I am the Ops Manager for Kap Vino Estate, Kunjani Wines. (And accommodation and restaurant). Oversee all operations of the estate, from the wine-admin to the running of the day to day all the way through to exports and the accommodation and venue hire. I do, well, a little of everything with the help of an amazing team.
Just over 2 years ago, a friend (who also works in the industry) sent me a tweet with a link to a new wine they found. The USP was “A wine made by men, for men” and I was too intrigued not to pick up the phone and hear if it was for real. Turns out it was and it was actually being run by an AMAZING woman. I asked her if she was crazy with a slogan like that. It was actually an export brand and she was dying to change it.
Fast forward 6 months and I found myself saying yes to opening up a “small, intimate wine tasting” that will never serve food.
That didn’t happen. Instead, we built something amazing. My incredible bosses, the two owners had crazy idea upon crazy idea and I just ran with it.
In the past two years we have made it through every obstacle you can imagine. Really, every obstacle. Unimaginable loss, lost vintages and massive learning curves. But two weeks ago it happened. On the 17th of November, we opened the doors to Stellenbosche’s coolest new sundowner spot.
I could write many a book on what I have learned and what this place and this work mean to me. But instead, I am going to leave you with our official press release and a few photos.
Kunjani Wines was conceptualised in 2011 when a chance encounter between a German Entrepreneur (Paul Barth) and a South African Businesswoman (Pia Watermeyer) birthed a vision for a cross-continental wine. A team was quickly assembled to make Kunjani Wines a reality. Pia is a new winemaker, with Carmen Stevens as her mentor. Carmen is an award-winning winemaker from humble roots. The Operations Manager is Lydia Afonso, with more than a decade of experience in all facets of the wine industry.
The Kunjani hands represent a greeting between friends. “Kunjani” means “Hi, how are you?” and that is exactly how great relationships start. A simple greeting and a great glass of wine between new friends.
Kunjani opens with a selection of great-tasting and carefully crafted wines, including:
2017 Sauvignon Blanc with beautiful & enticing summer expression that exhibits passion fruit, cut cucumber and freshly picked coriander, kept fresh with a dollop of lime zest.
2017 Chenin Blanc with a tropical and a fusion of ripe papaya fruit served with a squeeze of lime on a biscuit crust
2015 Red Blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec. Expect ripe, red cherries and tobacco notes with a lush mid-palate.
2015 Dry Riesling with tasting notes to follow.
2014 Shiraz that can only be described as spicy, meaty, with notes of blackberries and ripe plum.
2017 Pia Noir, also known as The Stolen Chicken. Perhaps a personal favourite amongst the staff, this wine was crafted in honour of James and his mom, Pia. It encapsulates the story of the boy who stole the chicken, but tried to convince his mother that he had found them. Who leaves chickens on the side of the road? Imagine a bowl of beautifully ripe straw and raspberries served with a sinful drop of toffee apple syrup.
James passed away on 5 June 2016, and as a way to honour his legacy and let his spirit live on, Pia and Carmen developed this rosé- a blend of our Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot. Seeing as pink was James’ favourite colour, Pia felt it fitting to put his face on their prized rosé. Enjoy this incredibly special wine whilst you laugh with your friends, dance with your partner, discuss the meaning of life with your family – just as James always did. And when you drink this wine, remember to be silly, to be caring and to be adventurous- just as James always was.
Kunjani Wines’ interior was created by Pia Watermeyer and the iconic Haldane Martin. As a designer, Haldane has been instrumental in the emergence of a new South African design language and identity. He successfully transformed Pia’s concept and brand essence in to an innovative, stylish and soulful interior with a unique character. This included custom fittings, luxurious finishes and custom-made furniture paired with selected artworks by local artists, Krisjan Rossouw and Peter Pharoah
Kunjani’s delicious wines and breathtakingly beautiful interior is best paired with their carefully curated menu – designed to be a FUN dining experience. Enjoy a variety of dishes and tapas on their set menu, including the Asian Braised Crispy Pork Belly; served with baby onions, apple puree, baby carrots and a red wine dressing. Another favourite is the Mushroom Ravioli, with pan seared spinach in a tomato and basil sauce topped with parmesan shavings. There are a variety of pizzas, burgers, platters and desserts to choose from. The prices range from R85.00 – R160.00 per dish, and Wine Tastings are R75.00 per person, which includes a selection of 5 wines.
Kunjani also offers elegant and luxurious cottages on their estate. The cottages all feature a patio with a view over the Kunjani vineyards and Stellenbosch mountains. The four self-catering cottages are aptly named: Shiraz (sleeps 4), Merlot (sleeps 2), Cabernet (sleeps 2) and Stolen Chicken (sleeps 4). Prices range from R1900.00 – R3500.00 per cottage, per night.
Private downstairs tasting area.
They say don’t mix love and work, too late.
Paul Bath and Pia Watermeyer
I mean, just look at that.
Kunjani Wines’ official opening date was Friday 17 November and trading hours are Wednesday to Sunday: 11:00 – 17:00, and closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Find Kunjani at Farm 90/20, Blumberg Drive, Devonvale, Stellenbosch. Tel: +27 87 630 0409
Enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org. Wine Sales: email@example.com.
Social Media: @KunjaniWines and #KunjaniWines on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.