Monday, March 1, 2010

Hanepoot grapes

It is late summer here in South Africa, and in the Cape that means one thing.

Hanepoot. (Hah-nuh-poo-wuht)

Time for ex-patriot South Africans to start weeping into their lattes or cups of strong English tea. And to reach for the bourbon/whisky/shiraz. Or whatever they drink in Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi...

Jantjie, kom huuuuuis tooooooe....

When the hanepoots start to turn light, golden-rust brown at the tips of each berry, you know that they are ready. The muscatty-honey taste is swelling inside their skins and the first grape crushed between the teeth crushes your heart just a little.

Properly Muscat d'Alexandrie, hanepoots make supermarket seedless grapes look as stiff, boring and without character as they have been bred to be.

They are best eaten straight off the bunch. Or crushed and lightly frozen, to be sucked like slush from the plastic bottle they were sold in. That was the way I drank them after sweaty, hot horse rides long ago in the Tokai forests. That farmstand is now a golf estate surrounded by electric fencing.

But the hanepoots taste the same.


  1. They do look good too! Thank you for the pronunciation guide - I hope you'll do that regularly for us!

  2. julle is terug ;-)

    juis vanoggend gewonder wanneer jul weer by die huis gaan wees.


  3. Rachel, I shall try!

    Arcadia - lekker om jou ook te sien :-)

  4. my google image search took me to a 'mede' SAfrikaanse diasporian in N Amerika. Memory lane takes me back to those rusty coloured bunches of heuning soet druiwe, then the years pass by, the palate moved to the noble late harvest sippings. Btw The red Long Life pattern bowl if filled with a sweet sour Hannepoort chicken is also delicious. ;-)))

  5. I lived in Muizenberg in the 80's and it was a delight to buy a bag of grapes whilst waiting to go to work on the train to Capey. Hanepoot grapes are heavenly. Lekker!

  6. I am a SA expat now living in California. A couple of years ago I was fortunate to find a nursery that had Muscat of Alexandria (i.e. Hanepoot) vines, so I purchased 4 to plant in my garden. This is now the vines' 3rd year, which will be the 1st year for a crop. I am SO looking forward to the grapes. I suspect that I'm the only South African in America growing Hanepoot.

  7. Hi can anyone tell me how I can buy a crate of ripe hanepoot towards the end of February for delivery in Johannesburg? I cannot bear the limp awful still green Hanepoot grapes we get in the fruit stores here. Thank you kindly

    1. Your best bet Magarietha is to research and contact a farm that grows them and offer to arrange shipping. It will not be cheap. Or do you have friends in the Cape? Maybe they'd be willing to buy, pack and ship.


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