Hartford House

The Home of Good Conversation, Fine Wine and Classic Horses.

Award-winning hotel and restaurant situated at Summerhill Stud on the picturesque KwaZulu-Natal Midlands Meander, South Africa.

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Why Twenty Twelve won't be 2012

Entrance to the Hartford Estate / Nicholas Goss (p)

Entrance to the Hartford Estate / Nicholas Goss (p)

"Good Conversation, Fine Wine and Classic Horses"

Mick Goss Summerhill CEO

Mick Goss
Summerhill CEO

Mick GossThere've been all sorts of predictions on how 2012 would turn out, not the least of which is the foreboding suggestion that the world will come to an end on the 21st December. By our calculations, that leaves most of us with about a week to live, but if you believe the movie "2012", there is salvation for anyone living within reach of the Drakensberg mountains. In that context, it's comforting to know that we're just over half an hour from Giant's Castle, and if what they have in mind is a flood of proportions to which only Noah can relate, there'll be time enough for anyone booked into Hartford House to make it up there as well. The point of my note is that if you don't already have a reservation at Hartford, get one because, in the same instant, you can enjoy a "Last Supper" before the curtain call at what is now officially KZN's Number One restaurant!

From an operational perspective though, we'd have to say that the outcome of the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale last month, is the principal reason why twenty twelve won't be 2012. By any stretch, the sale was a miracle, a tribute to good horses, good people and great customers, a convergence of all the ingredients in serendipity, and an alignment of the stars. Unless the Mayans had something else in mind, it seems that what they were predicting was that 2012 would be not so much the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning. In that case, we have much to look forward to in 2013, particularly if the market's assessment of our young stallions is any kind of yardstick. When it came to the Admire Mains, A.P. Arrows and the Mullins Bays, Ready To Run buyers voted with both feet, and the gratifying thing is that they had the benefit of hindsight at the gallops before they did so. For now, we can at least approach the New Year with positive anticipation. Despite a fairly significant reduction in broodmare numbers around the country, we've had an excellent season in the stallion barn, with encouraging demand for the new boys Visionaire, Golden Sword and Traffic Guard, while the vibes on the first of the Brave Tin Soldiers augurs well for their market debuts in the New Year.

Besides the frentics of the Ready To Run, 'tiz the season for awards, and the number of occasions we've had to don our dinner jackets in the past few months has me wondering whether there is time still for a final investment in a new tuxedo. Last time out, I was astonished to discover in my inner pocket, an invitation from the former Administrator of the old Natal, Stoffel Botha, to a function at King's House in 1983, and while that may be a compliment to the jacket's longevity, it's probably more an indication that this Zulu farmer either wears these things as little as possible, or that we just haven't won enough awards in the interim!

We never take these things for granted though, and they always come as a wonderful surprise. Often enough, they are a tribute to two great teams: an eighth Breeders' Championship, an award from each of Highveld and KZN Racing, and a string of podium visits at the KZN Breeders night out; for Hartford House, another national Top Ten Restaurant award, a sixth American Express Fine Dining accolade, the number one spot on the Top 100 SA Wine Lists and a Diamond class certificate from Diners International. That means those of us with a foot in both camps, have attended a lot of dinners lately. None of it possible without the support and encouragement of great friends and wonderful customers.

'Tiz also the season of many visitors, and this is the time when we top up our reserves of good conversation, fine wine and classic horses. If you're passing this way, please join us: we're bound to have other good friends from the neighbourhood. If not, this note comes with the best and the most grateful wishes of two of the best teams in their businesses.

As always, warmest regards,



diners club diamond wine list award 2009

"Diners Club Diamond Class Wine List Award"

The highest accolade a restaurant can earn itself in the beverage league, is a Diamond award for its wine list. For well over a decade, Hartford's wines have enjoyed recognition at the highest level, and it has just earned its eleventh Diners Club Diamond Class award.

We have prided ourselves in providing visitors with an experience which ranks in every division of our business, with the best in the world, hence the adage "the only world class hotel on a world class stud farm in the world". The plaudits on the food side have been many and varied, and Jackie Cameron, our Head Chef, has become a national and international celebrity. We get one chance every year when it comes to the beverages, so there are no rehearsals, and it's a great compliment to the team, Ainsley Williams, Scott Morgan, Mbulelo Mahlungulu and the rest of the front-of-house team, that they should have once again made it to the summit of the mountain.

We are lucky to live where we do, and especially to work with the people around us. Between Summerhill Stud (crowned just a month and a half ago for the seventh consecutive year as the Champion racehorse breeders of the nation), and Hartford House, we have aspired to do nothing more than our best and a bit more, and this is one of the ultimate accolades. That said, without the encouragement of our customers, who give us the chance to serve, none of this would've been possible. To all of you who patronise our business and get us up in the mornings, thank you.

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Paula Mackenzie receives the Diners Club Diamond Wine List Award on behalf of Hartford House

Paula Mackenzie receives the Diners Club Diamond Wine List Award on behalf of Hartford House


James Bond’s originator, Ian Fleming, once proclaimed that “Diamonds are forever”, and whilst you can’t say there is any permanence about your status as holding one of the best wine lists in the nation, Hartford House was on Monday night awarded one of only two Diamond class accolades in KZN, in the revered Diners Club annual contest.

Holders for nine consecutive years of the Platinum Award, Diamond wine lists are as rare as needles in a haystack, and this one comes alongside Hartford’s standing as the only KZN restaurant to feature in the nation’s Top Ten.