The exclusive Saartjie Semillon.



Saartjie, the Jack Russell pup that became my best mate…

It’s become somewhat of a cliché. All farmers have a little Jack Russell farming alongside them on a daily basis, but I believe that Saartjie is still an exception.

I remember the first day I met her, she was the smallest and the most cautious of all the puppies, and I instantly knew, she would become my little baby girl.

When most people hear Saartjie’s name, they always make the joke or assume her name comes from Saartjie Baartman, the most famous Khoikoi women who lived in the eighteen hundreds. But Saartjie is an old Family name. A Great aunt of mine, a fierce old lady, that also cautiously observed and assessed from a distance and then when needed to intervene or to stand her ground, she would make herself known and silence all the wrong say- or doers, just like Saartjie does.

She has become somewhat off a celebrity amongst the people in the valley as well as our loyal supporters. People visiting our restaurant even bring their dogs with to have regular playdates with the Friendly Saartjie. Don’t make a mistake, with your first visit to Hillcrest, Saartjie will come and investigate, maybe even bark three or four times, just to let you know, this is her turf.

Saartjie never leaves my side, she’s a pro Quad bike driver, and a master in picking the best grapes and even makes better wine than I can.

Saartjie even eats grapes, early in the mornings when I sample the Vineyards to establish which grapes must be harvested next, Saartjie runs by my side waiting for a grape to fall out of my hands for her to scoop it up. She always seemed to enjoy the Semillon grapes the most.

So I decided to experiment a little with making a Semillon, Semillon is mostly used in blends, most common blend is with Sauvignon Blanc. I harvested a ton of Semillon grapes and decided to ferment it in old French oak barrels, using a technique called wild fermentation, that simply means no commercial yeast is added to help with the fermentation process, it all happens naturally. After fermentation the wine was matured in French oak barrels for a further 6 months with added neutral French oak staves to insure a fuller rounder mouth feel.

To my surprise the wine came out phenomenally, with rich aromas of honey, toffee, vanilla and citrus flavors persisting on the pallet. Lingering finish.

I decided to dedicate this wine to Saartjie, so that her name will be forever remembered. With only 460 bottles made, selling at R150.00 per bottle, stock is limited, so I suggest you head to our Cellar Door and that while drinking the Saartjie Semillon, you be reminded that there is no better friend than a four legged one.


Arno Smith
Hillcrest Estate Wine maker

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