Harvest Time Meatballs

Meat was a luxury for the Cape's early settlers and game birds picking between the vineyards, often ended up in meatballs for dinner. For harvest time, Chef Eric's vine leave-wrapped meatballs are made with a combination of guinea fowl, chicken and quail and served with grape sauce and mosbolletjies.

Try these as part of the La Motte Harvest Experience or try the recipe at home!

Meatball Recipe:

  • guinea fowl (skinless, cubed) (about 450 g deboned)
  • free-range chicken (skinless and minced) (about 250 g deboned)
  • quail (skinless and cubed) (about 250 g deboned)
  • If this sounds a bit too exotic and hard to find, replace the game bird meat with 1 kilogram of mince of your choice.
  • 300 g breadcrumbs (fresh) 
  • 2 medium onions (diced)
  • 8 g salt 
  • 5 g black pepper 
  • 200 ml Verjuice 
  • 2 cloves of garlic 
  • 200 g olive oil 
  • 150 ml Marsala wine 
  • 10 g sage        
  • 10 g parsley 
  • 10 vine leaves 

Debone and skin all the birds.

Cut birds into 1 cm cubes and put in the freezer.

Mince the meat when semi-frozen.

Mix all meats together and season with salt and pepper. (Make sure to never break the cold chain - keep your meat ice cold.)

Sweat the onions, garlic and smoked bacon in a pan on low heat till sweet and soft. Increase the temperature and brown till golden.

Deglaze the pan with the Verjuice and Marsala, add bread crumbs and cook out for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. 

Mix chopped herbs into the cooled bread crumb and onion mix and check seasoning.

Mix with the meats. Check seasoning again by cooking off a small piece of the mix.

Reserve mix in the fridge.

To make the meatballs:

Wash the vine leaves under cold water and pat dry.

Roll the meat into 100 g balls and then wrap with the vine leaves.

Place them into a baking tray with the seam side down and let the meatballs support each other.

Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes or until cooked.

Grape Sauce: 

(If you use the game birds, use the recipe for the sauce below. If using other mince, use another meat sauce and only finish off with the grapes, sage and butter as per the below.)

  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stick
  • 1 leek
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 bay leave
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • wings and carcasses of the birds 

To finish the grape sauce:

  • 6 seedless grapes per portion
  • 100 g butter 
  • seasoning
  • lemon juice
  • 6 small sage leaves per portion


Roast the bones in the oven until browned.

Heat a pan on the stove and caramelise the vegetables.

Add the vegetables and bones to the stock pan along with the rest of the ingredients.

Bring to the boil and reduce heat to a simmer.

Cook for 12 hours, pass and reduce to jus consistency.

To finish the sauce, fry sage in browned butter, add grapes and remove from the heat, deglaze with the meat jus. Check seasoning.

During harvest time, serve the meatballs with some freshly baked mosbolletjies to dunk in the sauce. Otherwise, opt for buttery mash and a green salad. Be liberal with the sauce!

Perfect as a summer's lunch with a refreshing white wine such as the 2018 La Motte Sauvignon Blanc or a lightly chilled mellow red such as the 2017 La Motte Millennium.