This time we have a quaint oddity that we are writing about …

Typically we do not have the small holding vineyards that were once such a fundamental cell in the urban and rural geography of Europe, and still mostly prevails, although perhaps tenuously now …

There is a little (tiny) vineyard by the sea overlooking Kalk Bay.

Believe it or not it is just to the right of the pines and behind the white building:


Of course it was a European, French winemaker, Jean-Vincent Ridon from Signal Hill Wines, who embarked on this project in 2003.

Verbatim from the website:

“After moving to Cape Town, Jean-Vincent found old maps of the city, which showed that it was peppered with tiny vineyards. He couldn’t understand why Capetonians didn’t make use of undeveloped tracts of land to plant small, boutique vineyards and was enthusiastic when he saw the Kalk Bay plot. It’s the closest vineyard to the sea in South Africa and he recommended we plant Cabernet Franc because it could withstand the wind, salt and lack of water.”

To make sure that you get to the website (as I personally find breaking my read to zoot off to a link is not my natural habit) I have posted the link at the end of the article.

Make sure that you get to it, and please do look it up: even the website itself has this quaint look and feel that you would imagine should be for this tiny vineyard!

I often walk past it, with Julian, as we normally park just down the road from another charming place, the little tiny school The Bay, surely the equivalent of the ‘Little School On The Prairie’, this one by the sea.

One of the greatest school principles that ever lived was in charge of this school … another story, one day, if I can ever give it the dignity that this beautiful person deserves …

Kalkies in the harbour across the main road is just below as well, another favourite spot of ours for good value fish and chips, wine or beer, and where we actually took the shot in the process of …

In the case of Julian, the Olympia Café Take Away is literally on the edge of the tiny vineyard.


So we pop in there for takeaway espresso, and ham and cheese and other ‘nice things’ rolls.

You might think we get commission from these places that we speak of, but actually no, not yet, although one day we will expect something in return like the takeaway espressos at least … and in the case of the vineyard, perhaps one of their expensive wines or a case or two?

Just joking … but not about the espressos though.

Okay, so this is the thing, their wines are expensive, but I would expect that – it is a unique product that they are producing, and good luck to them on this.

Just walking past the vineyard gives me something – my nonni used to have little vineyards, so too my uncles.



It makes you want to peek – which is of course what we did:


Unfortunately, the generations that have inherited their grandparents and parents vineyards in Italy have not necessarily continued with this tradition.

Often they have had the vines ripped up and replaced by crops such as maize and soya and sugar beet produced by terzini! (basically outsourced to small agricultural enterprises with tractors and ploughs … )

What is interesting is that Jean-Vincent Ridon did not just see a pattern of small plots in the old maps, he saw ‘vineyards’ in his mind!

Does that not say something about him, he saw vineyards in these residual cadastral pieces of land , not small plots!

(In Italy we call them campi … so what size is a campo I would ask? There is no answer, the measurement unit is ‘field’, no square metres, nothing, just – campo!)

Life should be like that, it should not be just a mass of plastic refuse swirling around in huge vortexes as in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (see the link at the end of this article).

It should be a rich texture of all sizes interwoven within itself into a fabric that is resilient, sustainable, colourful, eclectic, wonderful … !


It should not be shopping mall parking lots, with weeds in empty disused lots where newspapers and leaves fly around and heap up pointlessly …

It can be a shopping mall with parking lots fringed by vineyards, by flowers, by jazz bands in the sun, craft markets, organic vegetables … has anyone seen that gem of a movie called “Still Breathing” about a marionette man in San Antonio or Santa Fe or San/Santa Something? Yes, buskers and puppeteers too … they should all be there …

Life should be like that … a creative, organic combination of ‘paths, edges, districts, nodes, and landmarks’ as the famous Lynch Elements that Kevin Lynch proposed in his seminal work would have it, with the richness of human creativity afloat on this …

Whether or not Jean-Vincent Ridon sends us a bottles of his wine or not is immaterial … what is more important that you are now reading about something that is as it should be!

The Vineyard:

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch:

Our Sustainability Ethos:

The Lynch Elements:


Copyright © 2015 G. Rigotti



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