How many small dozen persons enterprises are you aware of that is privately held, with an active social responsibility commitment, and operates a foundation that passionately gives back to their local community?
When I established my website, I had no plans to write about restaurants. That was before I met the creative, charismatic, generous, caring hospitality executive Richard F. Weilers, owner of BluVines in Montagu, Western Cape, South Africa. Richard opened his establishment in April 2019 after remodeling a farmhouse into a restaurant, wine tasting venue, and conference room facility. More about Montagu here: https://www.johncbarry.com/montagu-western-cape-south-africa/
Previously Richard was Managing Director, Hotels Offshore, Tsogo Sun Gaming Ltd., from July 2011 until his retirement when he took up residence in Montagu. Richard’s domicile was Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where he was responsible for opening and managing Tsogo’s offshore facilities. Tsogo in Setswana means resurrection or new life, a term that mimics the daily rising of the sun.
When driving from Ashton to Montagu on Route 62 as you enter the town on Long Street, on the right-hand side is a charcoal building, BluVines. If you appreciate class, excellent service, and occasional live singing, this restaurant deserves your patronage. The establishment would be welcome on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, Trafalgar Square London, Times Square, New York, or Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi. A place where patrons enjoy first-class dining and delightful entertainment. The vista with a massive mountain nearby is as awe-inspiring as is the service and food. It is a special treat for Montagu. We had lunch for seven family members—and what a special gift. The average cost for drinks, main course, and deserts were R233 (US$15), a steal if ever there was one. Don’t forget to visit the winery, and in all sincerity the bathrooms, as that too is an experience. If you wish to hold a small 14-person conference, the facilities are exquisite. There is off-street parking behind the restaurant.
What makes BluVines so unique? Where to start?
Food preparations are by chefs James Mulligan, Sean Bassett, and Knowledge Jonasi. Waiting service is courtesy of Team Leader Aviwe November (cousin to Siphi—see below), and waiters and singing performers, Mark Stalmeester, Mbulelo Hohlo, and Antonio Arendorf. Ronald Chiripo is the Grand Baristo and Mixologist; Custodians are Preveledge Dimasi and John Zgambo. Elliam Nehama is the gardener, all serving under the watchful eye of General Manager Jonine Erasmus. It is worth noting that with the impressive menu presented to guests, Richard’s name is not reflected. He is willing to have his team get the recognition they so richly deserve.
James Mulligan singing Falling in Love. (Watch for the large photograph of a farmhouse near the end of his song, and see additional photograph information below detailing the Conference Room).
Mark Stalmeester and Antio Arendorf performing All I Want.
Menu items include ten percent paid to the BluVines Vision fund. Staff members receive six percent of the proceeds, with the balance donated to the RAD Foundation. RAD (Rural Arts Development) Foundation believes in M.A.G.I.C (Music and Growing Inspired Children), and introduces the Arts to Rural communities, providing a platform for integration and unity in diversity, through classes and festivals. Helen Gooderson is the inspiration to all for her leadership and direction of RAD. She is referred to as “our mother” and has enormous drive and energy. RAD’s aim is to get youth off the streets and into an environment where they can learn, grow, and achieve manageable goals — working in collaboration with other non-profit organizations to ensure reaching all target groups of youth to introduce them to projects including HIV/AIDS awareness, substance abuse, life skills, recycling, nutrition, and other relevant youth issues.
As an aside, and to reinforce the achievements, benefits, and success of the RAD Foundation, read about Siphesihle (Siphe) November and the late Fiona Sargeant, a past patron of RAD in my 16-day Canadian trip on Day 4. Fiona’s incredible gift was to work with and develop young people so that they may use the opportunities that Dancescape gave them to change their lives through dance. Siphe November’s talent was nurtured to provide him with the privilege and opportunity of continuing his training at the Canadian National Ballet School. “With his debut as Bluebird in Rudolf Nureyev’s production of The Sleeping Beauty last spring, National Ballet of Canada corps member Siphesihle November quickly established himself as the rightful heir to one of the most challenging male parts in the classical repertoire.” Dance Magazine. “Mr. November has danced in such ballet as The Nutcracker, Nijinsky, The Winter’s Tale, The Four Seasons, Emergence, Paz de la Jolla and The Dreamers Ever Leave You.”
Blu Vines feature Mimosa wines that are terroir-driven, with limited quantities to ensure a sustained focus on quality. Terroir (French from terre—land) is a set of environmental factors that affect a crop’s phenotype. Bernhard Hess is the creator and inspiration of the Mimosa Wine Brand.
Richard commissioned the large photograph for the conference room to depict “Create your vision, and keep your eye on the goal.” The conference room can seat up to 14 delegates. Cape Town photographer, Martin Osner created this work. There is a second picture of Martin’s on the patio. I did not take a photograph of this but can be seen in the background on the patio in the video with James Mulligan singing Falling in Love.
Sometimes it is just the small things that add to the class of this establishment. Imagine providing absent-minded patrons with glasses to read the menu, or possibly more valuable to read the bill.
In America, we have a strong view that you can tell how clean the kitchen is by inspecting the bathroom. Here three rooms are provided, a ladies, gents, and a handicap accessible or baby change room. If it does not verify the care, attention, and cleanliness that has gone into every detail, then nothing will. Please notice the small hand towels available for drying your hands, and the receptacle for storing the used towels. I apologize for not closing the door when I photographed and saw my error too late. The video is less problematic.
Please invest the time for your enjoyment to visit and appreciate this fine dining restaurant. I did.