In 1902 the Postmaster of Hermanuspietersfontein deemed the name too long and shortened it to Hermanus; the coastal town at the center of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and home to the Sondagskloof wine ward.
Today the full name, Hermanuspietersfontein, is reserved for the winefarm based here, boasting the longest Afrikaans name of any cellar in the world (not that there is much competition - though if there were, we’d be interested). Their wine labels are done solely in Afrikaans and we adore the tongue-in-cheek names bestowed on each. Die Kaalvoet meisie (The barefoot girl), Die Skoonma (the mother in law), Die Kat met die houtbeen (the cat with the wooden leg), Swartskaap (Black sheep), Stertswaai (Tail wag)… the gifting opportunities here are endless should you wish to say something without ACTUALLY having to SAY it. As our frame of reference (in LIFE) was established a long time ago by a young Julie Andrews, with an enormous bag and a duck-headed umbrella - the idea of the longest Afrikaans name (to our minds) obviously drew a comparison to the longest English word - Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (it’s even included in spellchecks). It means the “extraordinarily good”, or as Mary Poppins, flush from a horse racing win put it, it’s the word you use when there simply are no words to express your triumph. Case in point: Hermanuspietersfontein.
Hermanus Pieters was a Dutch farm school teacher in the 1800’s. He was primarily situated in Caledon but liked to herd his cattle down the ‘Elephant’s Pass’ (Hemel-en-Aarde Valley) in the summer time. He had found a waterfall he liked camping at. The local community soon caught on and moved to the area that was to become the seaside town of Hermanus, where they paid Hermanus Pieters in sheep to teach their children Dutch. In 1855 the town was named Hermanuspietersfontein in honour of the man and the waterfall he found. The Sondagskloof wine ward is a cool climate area, almost always 2 degrees (Celsius) colder than the rest of the Walker Bay district. The grapes here therefore benefit from the cooling breezes off the Atlantic ocean, making for European style wines with an emphasis on Sauvignon blanc and Bordeaux-style red blends.
Together the wines make up an unlikely group of personalities with very likely ties to real life. Die Bartho for instance having been named in reference to former winemaker, Bartho Eksteen, a Cape Winemakers Guild member known for his Sauvignon blanc. Now while we’d love to know who the ’Swartskaap’ (Black sheep) is in reference to, we are more than content to merely savour the blend and suggest you select yourself a cast of members from the Hermanuspietersfontein troupe and draw your own conclusions, even better set your own scene. Alternatively we suggest you attend their weekly market day, where food and wine collide, every Saturday come wine, hail, sunshine or rain. But for now, as Mary Poppins was wont to do: “[She] then poured out another dose and solemnly took it herself. “Rum punch,” she said, smacking her lips and corking the bottle.”