Plum picking at Avondale Farm

If there’s a better way to spend a Saturday morning than picking plums, I don’t know what it is.

Funnily enough, Avondale Farm isn’t famous for their plums, nor for their delightful lunches served on the banks of their dam, on red checkered tablecloths, in dappled sunlight. No, Avondale isn’t enough famous for their delicious organic wines, although they are both delicious and organic – a winning combo. Instead, Avondale are famous for the ad campaign they ran a few years ago, featuring naked men and women picking grapes.

The campaign wasn’t meant to shock , but to highlight the fact that Avondale’s vineyards are as close to nature as possible. ‘Extraordinary wines approved by Mother Nature’ is their tag-line, and you can’t help but agree with it. At Avondale they’re getting back to nature, but using 21st century science and technology to do it. That’s why you’ll find ducks eating the snails in all the vineyards, but a very finely researched soil balance –with no artificial fertilizer used and absolutely no killing with chemicals.

Still, much as I loved their ad campaign, that wasn’t why I drove the hour or so out to Avondale one sunny Saturday morning. I was there to pick plums, with the Slow Food Mother City gang (more on that later).

Apparently there are all kinds of variants of plums (who knew?) – not just the red and yellow variants, but a whole display of different sizes, colours and tastes. We spent an hour or so roaming the orchards and plundering any trees we saw with deep red plums (the green ones were not only unappetizing but, well, green and inedible). The plums were warm from the sun, unbelievably juicy and so full of flavour I had to close my eyes to taste them properly… Truly, a heavenly experience. We were able to pick as many plums as we could carry, and as many as we wanted to nibble on along the way (which, in my case, was a lot). There were no sounds but the tweeting of wild birds and the wind rustling through the trees, no companions save my fellow plum pickers and a few ducks gobbling up snails, and nothing to interrupt a deliciously peaceful morning but our rumbling tummies. When we got hungry enough for real food to leave the plum paradise behind, we headed back up to the main farmhouse (on the back of bakkies) and indulged in a spot of wine tasting (the rose was particularly refreshing after a hot morning’s work) followed by a simply scrumptious picnic on said banks of the dam, with said red checkered tablecloths, in the dappled sunlight. A spread of picnic food was laid out for us, and the house slipped smoothly into each other.

I ask you: what better way is there to spend a Saturday morning?

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