This year’s Wine on the River festival in Robertson was a great success, showing that wine tourism is growing as healthily as the vines and the grapes in the region.
A leisurely two hour drive outside of Cape Town, the Robertson Wine Valley – made up of the quaint towns of Robertson, Ashton, Bonnievale and McGregor – is a wine-farming region home to some of the most acclaimed family names in winemaking in South Africa. Slightly shadowed on the wine-tourist’s map by the likes of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, the festival aims to put the valley well and truly on the map by offering as many of the varied delights of the region as possible. And in that, it does a sterling job.
Held annually in spring, on the banks of the charming Breede River on Goudmyn Farm, this is one for the wine lover’s calendar. With expansive views of the surrounding vineyards and the rolling Langeberg mountains, it is without doubt one of the most sublime, peaceful venues for a festival of its kind in the country.
This year’s edition included a generous selection of 250 wines from 30 wineries in this magnificent region. Festival goers were welcomely handed a tasting glass for the weekend and were encouraged to taste as many wines from as many of the stalls as they wished. From old favourites to new varieties, wineries were happily sampling their proudly-chosen best selections. Representatives from all of the wineries were all in great spirit as they kept eager tasters interested and informed, while at the same time exuding the festival spirit with plenty of smiles and laughs.
The impressive offerings here really do cater to all different age groups and taste preferences, making it an ideal weekend-away. Families, groups of friends and strangers alike all enjoyed live acoustic and jazz music while picnicking on the spacious riverbank.
Taking a leisurely boat cruise up the Breede was a relaxing way to savour the treats you just got from some of the exquisite food and wine stalls – what could be better than sushi with a crisp, fresh white? Or cheese and biltong with a smooth, chilled red? This was also a great way to meet and mingle with fellow wine lovers and celebrate life in great fashion – in an incredible setting!
While the festival has a focus on friendly, lighthearted mingling, there was every reason for groups of life-lovers to dance and celebrate the weekend – and there was nothing stopping the kids being ultra excited about their turn in the popular zorb ball!
The event – having already been running for 11 years – holds great promise to continue to grow in popularity. Now firmly established on the Western Cape’s festival calendar, it’s worthy of booking a spot on yours, too.
Where to stay
If your over-excited wine palate is already looking forward to next year’s event – and you want to extend the tourist route to include all of the must-see towns in the region – then a stay at the Montagu Country Hotel should be at the top of your planning itinerary.
This authentic, art-deco style bed and breakfast exudes comfort and relaxation and is filled with all the charm and character that makes Klein-Karoo hospitality so touching and memorable. The hotel comes fit with a wellness spa (perfect for winding down after a tough day of wine tasting), a pool area and an elegant restaurant for enjoying characteristic Klein-Karoo cuisine. And what’s even better is that it is Fair Trade Tourism certified so you can rest easy knowing your money is being spent in a sustainable manner!