Miracle Cave authenticates Orange River wines

Neil Pendock April 3, 2012 5

While Franschhoek may call itself the food and wine capital of South Africa, that appellation is more rightfully owned by the Wonderwerkgat (miracle cave) in the Northern Cape with the news that it is the site of the world’s first restaurant, circa one million years ago.  In its day, troglodytes calling it the One&Only would not have been mistaken.

The world’s first restaurant in the Northern Cape

The use of fire to cook food is hugely important, according to Professor Richard Wrangham, professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University, who argues that “the invention of cooking split the ancestors of humans from the evolutionary path that went on to include modern gorillas and chimpanzees.  Cooking allowed our ancestors to develop bigger brains and, in his hypothesis, is the key reason modern humans emerged.  The controlled use of fire, according to Wrangham, was a more important milestone in human evolution than the invention of agriculture or eating meat” quoted in the Guardian.

Seems that one of the facilities of the Wonderwerkgat was a binnebraai – in-door braai popular in the Swartland – which comes as good news to WOSA, who have devoted most of their marketing funds over the last few years to promoting braai (or braii as they call it in Canada) and (Western) Cape wine.  Although if there was any drinking of ancient Amarula and fiery potations made from vetplante or aloes going on in the gat, these would have been wines of origin Northern Cape.

Which is a huge shot in the arm for embattled producers along the Orange River.  Volumes of harvest 2012 are down thanks to the disastrous floods of 2011 which led to widespread vineyard devastation, but for the first time a single cultivar Sauvignon Blanc will be bottled, made from grapes grown in the appellation.

The calls to rename Cape Wine 2012, Capes Wines 2012 to reflect the increasing importance of the Northern Cape in SA wine production, alongside the Western Cape, has now reached a clamour and surely cannot be denied much longer.


  1. Gabi Williams April 3, 2012 at 8:29 am -

    Do you know where we can buy one of WOSA’s famous braai books? Or is it only sold abroad?

  2. Neil Pendock April 3, 2012 at 8:35 am -

    Gabi, readers of the UK Telegraph get copies for free. South Africans have to pay. The WOSA office in Dorp Street Oak City should have stock after switching from wine to books.

    I heard a rumour the braii boek will be translated into German, so you may want to hold on for that.

  3. Gabi Williams April 3, 2012 at 10:00 am -

    Vielen Dank Neil!

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