Harvest 2020 barrelling along!

“Can you believe it, we’re at the end of week 3 of this year’s harvest and we’re already more than 25% through with harvest 2020!” Jan van Rooyen, Avontuur’s winemaker seems a little bit surprised about the speed of things this year, especially as a few of the varietals seem to be in a race against time and ripening quicker than last year.

An example is the Viognier, which has come in two weeks earlier than last year. “It’s at the same ripeness and the grapes look very similar to last year’s,” he says. “But for some weird reason that block was ripe a fortnight earlier than in 2019.”  Another strange one was the Pinot Noir which was 8 days early – although harvested for the same wine and with the same end product in mind as the 2019 varietal.

“For the rest we seem to be on track and we’re currently harvesting beautiful Sauvignon Blanc, which will make that popular, crisp style that we’re so well known for,” Jan commented.

Now for the next 75%!

Avontuur beats the odds at 1st 2020 yearling sale.

Avontuur’s “daughter of two champions”,  All that Jazz (Trippi x Val de Ra) was the top-selling filly at last week’s 2020 Cape Premier Yearling Sale and in another first, was also the first yearling to be bought for export to Australia via Mauritius and the UK. 

Another filly who did extremely well for the farm was Live My Life by Gimmethegreenlight out of Muamba.  She was sold for R1.1 million to European interests, but will be raced here first and do well we hope, before being exported.

Comments Avontuur GM Pippa Mickleburgh, “Our horses looked amazing and I think the fact that they did, was our saving grace in a really hard market.  We had 10 different sires for all to choose from and due to that and our quality mares we had a good chance of doing well.”

The difficult economic situation was echoed by chief executive officer of Cape Thoroughbred Sales,  Wéhann Smith who said “Considering the economic climate, both macro and micro, we came into the sale with limited expectations. But all said and done, it’s still a significant amount of money (sales totalled R56,490,000) and we still see a R3-million colt and a R2.2-million colt and two fillies over R1 million, in trying times as positive. “

At this sale 232 lots were catalogued, after withdrawals 216 were offered and 173 were sold. The aggregate was R56,490,000, the average R326,531 and the median R250,000.  In Avontuur’s case, all 10 sold for an average of R585 000 which shows the quality of the group on offer.

Avontuur Estate would like to thank all buyers and trainers who supported us and we look forward to see them perform in future.  A special thanks to all the under bidders, without whom we would have fallen short.

The full low down on each CPYS 2020 Yearling!

“Avontuur Thoroughbred Farm has horses for every buyer at the 2020 Cape Premier Yearling Sale,” said Avontuur’s Estate General Manager Pippa Mickleburgh.

“Some time ago someone remarked to me that the so-called ‘small buyers’ don’t like to come to the major sales because the ‘big” buyers pick up all the best horses. But I’d like to counter that, because we always have yearlings in our draft that suits buyers of all budgets, and we value every client. Visit us at the Avontuur stand and see for yourself.”

The first Avontuur yearling to step into the ring at CPYS this year will be Lot 1, Master Of Law, a colt by Legislate from Jackie O. “He’s big strong and robust,” said Mickleburgh, who was happy to see a single Legislate runner in Gauteng finish second on debut just recently. Snooze and you lose!

Lot 16 is Mayenne, a filly by freshman stallion Rafeef from La Normandie, who has had four winners from four runners including Gr1 Golden Horse Casino Sprint winner Normanz. “She’s a big horse of high quality, if this is the type of filly Rafeef’s going to produce I’d be excited for his owners.”

Lot 29 is a filly sired by the well-performed Master Of Fate, named Call It Fate. She is from the family of Cold As Ice and Mickleburgh said: “She’s strong and correct, a good looking filly I’d place in the ‘smaller buyers’ league, she could be a value buy, well worth a look!”

Lot 32, Spielberg is a cleverly named colt, described as “hunky and good-looking”. He’s by Futura from the fast Gr3 winner Miss October, the sister to August Rush and dam of promising Spring Break. “We named him Spielberg after the famous movie director (of mostly futuristic films), and because in the Spielberg movie ‘Back To The Future’, they travelled to the month of October,” Mickleburgh explained. “Spielberg is an imposing third foal.”

Lot 37 is Live My Life, by Gimmethegreenlight from Muamba (Pure Prize), a five-time winning half-sister to 2016 Durban July runner Mambo Mime. “She’s a dark filly, athletic, highly attractive and from a winning Argentine pedigree. Our fillies are invariably excellent runners, and Gimmethegreenlight is a top stallion.”

Intrepid (Lot 46) is an eye-catching grey son of VAR and super broodmare sire Jet Master’s daughter Pan Amm, whose two foals so far are both stakes-placed. “He’s very pretty, a get-up-and-go type of horse who will run quick, he’s sound and precocious,” Mickleburgh said.

Lot 120 is the pride of Avontuur’s 2020 draft. Named All That Jazz, she is by Trippi from Champion sprinter Val De Ra, whose stakes-winning Frankel filly Miss Frankel was recently exported. “She’s big and scopy, she has her mother’s length, so to speak, and she’s no pushover. She’s big, with a nice barrel, and we all know how the Trippi fillies can run. We decided to put her on the sale, we believe we’ll get a good and deserving sales price for a yearling of this calibre, as we’ve done it successfully with similarly well-bred yearlings before.”

Quiz Master (Lot 123) is another likely to get the tongues wagging. He’s a son of the terrific Silvano and the VAR mare, Varsity Queen. Mickleburgh said this is “a proper horse”, one with the “wow” factor. “It’s hard to produce Silvano’s for the early sales. This one is medium-sized, his half-sister Operetta was bigger. But he ticks all the right boxes. He is strong and will develop into something special, a must-see!”

Stallion Captain Of All is doing the job, and his bay son Goodwill (Lot 131), like Lot 46, is from a Jet Master mare, this one Without Malice, who won eight races. “He’s an attractive, athletic colt with clean legs, another one I’d put in the ‘normal buyers’ league,” Mickleburgh said.

Lot 138 is the final Avontuur ‘baby’ through the ring. He’s West Point, an Oratorio full-brother to Gr1-placed Ancestry,  who was a first foal and Mickleburgh said: “He looks like Ancestry, but has more rib cage – a nice yearling from A Daughter’s Legacy, a good mare we expect to produce more good foals.”

Copy courtesy of Charl Pretorius.

Cape Premier Yearling Sale 2020 planning in full swing!

It’s the last few days before our group of 10 yearlings leave for the Cape Town International Convention Centre for the 2020 Cape Premier Yearling Sale which is set for Thursday,  16 January. 

Pippa and her team plus the stars of the show – our elegant and athletic yearlings – will be on hand and ready to receive visitors from around lunch time on Monday the 13th.  We look forward to welcoming buyers, trainers, owners and interested parties to our stand, not only to view this year’s crop, but also partake in quality wine and snacks, and just in general have a good time!

We’re happy to share our list of yearlings.  All the info you need to make a decision is available and we’ve also got some pics to enjoy on our Stud Sales pages.

Click here to have a look:

For more info or to arrange a private viewing at the Estate before the Sale,  contact Pippa at



Festive Season Opening Times

Avontuur Estate will be closed on Christmas Day (25/12) and New Year’s Day (1/1) to give our staff time to spend with their families.

We are however open daily (except for those two days!).  Visit our tasting room for a tasting, to buy wine, for a pairing or one of our platters.  From 08h30-17h00 during week days or 09h00-16h00 during weekends and public holidays.  To find out more or to book for a specific event, contact Ella or Moerieda at or +27 21 855-3450. 

You are also welcome to join us on Friday evenings for Sundowners on the terrace till 19h00.

Our restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch daily and for dinner from Tuesdays to Saturdays.  Bookings are recommended at +27 21 855-4296 or

New Sarabande paired with FREE recipe

Winemaker Jan van Rooyen is proud to announce the release the 2018 vintage of the multi-award winning Sarabande Sauvignon Blanc Reserve this week.

“Our vision is for this wine to become the flagship white wine of the Estate.  An iconic Sauvignon Blanc-driven “Great White” from Avontuur to show of the best of our terroir and its uniqueness.  Sarabande is not only the name of a stately Spanish dance in triple metre form, but also a tribute to an exceptional race horse and prolific broodmare called Sarabande, graced the pastures of  Avontuur Thoroughbred Stud Farm from 2005 to 2019”,  he says.

The blend contains a tiny amount of Viognier with the Sauvignon Blanc which adds to the full-bodied mouth feel and the flavours of pineapple and yellow grapefruit which is so prominent on the nose.  Ageing will bring out the minerality from the maritime influences on the vineyards and we recommend that some of the wine is stored and enjoyed after a few years.  After tank fermentation the wine was matured in 1st and 2nd fill barrels for 12 months, which makes it a perfect food wine and adds to the maturation potential.

As part of the launch, we are offering a free recipe to pair with the wine when you serve it at home.  The “Snoek Toastie with Citrussy Mayo, pickled Waterblommetjie and Charred Pineapple Salsa” was created by Marcelle van Rooyen, Food Stylist and Recipe Developer – and also the talented daughter of our winemaker! The recipe card can be collected from our tasting room when you visit to try the wine, or downloaded from our website.

Sarabande Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2018 is available from selected retailers, our tasting room at the Estate (Price:  R190 p/bottle) or from our SA Wine Shop at

Visit us this Summer and taste for yourself. The tasting room is open daily except on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.


Stud Farm 2019: The year that was and future plans!

We’ve had a year filled with fantastic performances by offspring of our two sires Var and Oratorio,  experienced some very positive Yearling Sales support from loyal buyers and saw potential champions born on the farm.  

Chatting to Avontuur GM, Pippa Mickleburgh she mentioned that the high point for her this past year was the coming of age of Oratorio’s progeny, who are maturing successfully as expected and have kept him at the top spot for the past season.  

“I am also thrilled that Var is holding his own and although slowing down, he’s been covering well and is still producing the good-looking horses we’ve expected from him.  On the yearling sale side, the 2019 standout was the River Jetez filly called Delta Queen who was sold for a record price for Avontuur at the National Yearling Sale in April.  We look forward to further successes next year and after an extremely successful breeding season with most of our mares safely in foal to some champion sires, I am full of hope,” she says. 

It was a sad moment in September when it was announced that our champion race mare Sarabande was no more, but we like to  think of the beautiful progeny she’s produced and obviously also the award-winning Sarabande Sauvignon Blanc Reserve which carries her name forward on the wine side, and it reminds us of her achievements.   Saying goodbye to Miss Frankel, who is moving to her new home in Europe early in 2020 has been bitter-sweet.  We believe that her future in the wider world  looks bright, but on the other hand,  it’s sad to say goodbye to this Frankel daughter who’s given so many so much pleasure in watching her develop.  

When asked about her expectations for the new  year, Pippa said; “We’re looking forward to the first Yearling Sale of 2020 in Cape Town in mid-January and we have some stunning yearlings to offer.  But if I could have one wish for 2020, it’s that the lifting of the incredibly restrictive export protocols would be sorted out!  This one single event, will turn our industry around for ever in South Africa!”

Miss Frankel leaves SA for exciting future!

From the day we heard that our star speedster and double Equus Sprinter of the Year Val de Ra was in foal to the mighty Frankel after visiting him during her UK sojourn, we couldn’t wait to meet this new addition to our Estate.

And Miss Frankel didn’t disappoint!  Her distinctive facial markings and beautiful chestnut colour immediately made her stand out amongst the rest of the foals of her year.  She spent her youth being visited by many local and international celebrities who made their way to meet her in her paddock.

Her extrovert personality matched her looks and her personal face book page grew organically to nearly 2000 fans who followed her every move avidly.  

When she hit the race tracks under the capable training regime of Dennis Drier (who also trained her mom Val de Ra), she made us proud with 3 wins (One of which was a black type Listed race!) and some outstanding performances in other races after a bit of a health scare which took her off track for more than a year.

Miss Frankel will be leaving South Africa soon for her new home in Europe where she will be exposed to some of the world’s leading sires and we believe that this is the best for her as it opens up opportunities, which she would not have had in South Africa.

Hamba Gahle and farewell Miss Frankel, we will miss you at Avontuur!  However, we look forward to following your fortunes and that of the outstanding progeny you will surely have on tracks around the world in future.


Planning for CPYS 2020 already in full swing

With the annual Cape Premier Yearling Sale set for 16 January 2020, Avontuur is gearing up to get a classy crop of yearlings ready for this first important date on the Sale calender.

“We have 6 colts and 4 fillies booked with some excellent progeny by our own two sires, Var and Oratorio set to wow the buyers,” says Avontuur GM Pippa Mickleburgh. Oratorio recently achieved 55 stakes winners internationally and Var’s achievements speak for themselves as his offspring keep on burning up tracks.

Over and above Avontuur’s own stallions, the list of yearlings reads like the who’s who of SA’s top sires like Silvano, Gimmethegreenlight,  Trippi, Master of my Fate, Legislate and newcomer Rafeef – all of whom make up Avontuur’s crop for this premier event.

“One of my favourites is a grey Var colt called Intrepid who is out of the stakes-winning mare Pan Am.  I think he will attract a lot of attention and look forward to seeing the positive reactions once we get to the CTICC.  Last but definitely not least – there’s All that Jazz!  She is a daughter of Trippi out of champion race mare Val de Ra and therefore a half-sister to Miss Frankel.  What a superb high-quality, elegant filly with outstanding paddock value and certain international appeal ,” Pippa concludes

Oratorio tops the SA sires list!

We’re loving it that our globally proven sire Oratorio,  is top of the pops on the SA sire’s list!  What an achievement for this gentle giant who is lining up the stakes winners internationally and locally at the moment.

He still has some space in his book for this year’s season, so get hold of Pippa Mickleburgh right now at to book your mare for a cover.