Living in the Cape, we are spoiled when it comes to gorgeous winelands. From the swanky Constantia Valley, to historical Franschhoek or stunningly scenic Stellenbosch, we really have our pick of the grapes. But for me, the lesser-known and explored Robertson Wine Valley, has always held a special place in my heart.
A little further out of the way than the Cape’s more famous wine routes, the towns of Robertson, McGregor, Montagu, Ashton and Bonnievale combine to make up an area that features stunning scenery with awesome opportunities to wine and dine, all led by the most friendly wine-makers, chefs and farm owners.
The fun and fabulous Wacky Wine Weekend was held recently, and this festival only served to remind me of all I love about this area. Here are just six of my favourite things to do in the Robertson Wine Valley:
1. Learn from the wine masters
A great thing about Wacky Wine is that farms around the valley open their doors to give you a glimpse behind the scenes as wine-makers and chefs let you in on their secrets. This year’s event saw visitors indulge in underground cellar tastings at Weltevrede and De Wetshof, while those in the know explained the finer details of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. And the good news is that many of the farms offer these types of experiences year-round.
Not that into wine? Then try a unique and personal grappa tasting experience at Tanagra with the owners of this boutique style winery, or experience a tutored tour and tasting of the Klipdrift brandy distillery – nothing wakes one up like a brandy and ginger ale in the morning!
2. A plethora of wine pairings
The farms in the Robertson Wine Valley offer an array of delicious pairings that make your wine tasting experiences all that more exciting.
We indulged in a delicious homemade biscuit and wine tastings at Bonnievale Wines, a luxurious chocolate and wine pairing at Rosendal, as well as a decadent array of goodies courtesy of the ‘fan pairing’ at Van Loveren, which pairs wines, a cream liqueur and even a wine slushy with some tasty nibbles. Van Loveren’s newest pairing, the ‘Fiver Party Plate’, also comes highly recommend as you get to pair some uniquely flavoured ciders with candyfloss, cake pops and cookies.
3. Get back to nature in the Breede Valley
The Robertson Wine Valley festivals give the chance for visitors to enjoy the farms in their entirety. During Wacky Wine we enjoyed a 4×4 nature bumble at Jan Harmsgat, while Ashton Kelder was offering game drives, and guided hikes with an experienced mountaineer and horticulturist were available at Wolvendrift. Earlier in the year during the Hands-On Harvest Festival we enjoyed tractor rides and potjie making in the vineyards at Graham Beck, while all year-round the area offers a host of gorgeous hiking trails and scenic spots for picnics and days out in the sun.
The Breede River runs through the valley, so canoeing and swimming are the order of the day during summer time, while boat cruises on the Breede at Viljoensdrift are definitely one of the highlights of the region – especially during the Wine on the River Festival in October.
4. A splash of culture
The farms and restaurants in the Robertson Wine Valley often host fabulous local bands and artists so you can sip your wine in rhythm to a relaxed beat.
At the Wacky Wine Weekend they really pulled out the stops, with each farm seeming to have found some hidden talent. Lord’s Wines in McGregor even offered private concerts and movie nights, while Karen Zoid and Majozi graced the stage at Graham Beck. On a normal night in the valley you are bound to find a budding guitarist strumming a tune at a cozy restaurant while local art brings a touch of colour to the walls of various eateries and tasting rooms.
5. Unleash your adventurous side
At this year’s Wacky Wine Weekend, Robertson Winery and Impact Adventures hosted the 10th edition of their mountain bike event with four exciting routes for riders.
All year round, this area is a firm favourite for mountain bikers while a range of other adventurous activities can also be found in the valley. From kayaking down the river, to hikes in the mountains, or rock climbing and abseiling in Montagu, the Breede Valley offers something for everyone.
Impact Adventures also runs adventure camps and team building weekends for those looking for an adrenaline-filled getaway.
6. Food, glorious food in the Robertson Wine Valley
Last but not least, you can’t have wining without dining! Spoilt for choice in the Robertson Wine Valley, a host of lovely delis and outdoor restaurants offer the opportunity to kick back and relax with a bottle of bubbles. This weekend a braai-fondue experience with a magnificent selection of Namibian meats could be found at Rietvallei, while at Rosendal Winery a twist to the normal dining experience was offered with a ‘guess the meal’ dinner.
Excelsior’s deli offers up gourmet ‘roosterbrood’ sandwiches any day of the week and you can also blend, cork and bottle your own creation in their tasting room before sitting down to your picnic on the lawn overlooking their dam.
Then for those who can’t do wine without olives, Marbrin Olive Growers offers unique, up-close tours of their olive farm and the chance to learn about how olives and olive oils are processed.
All in all, life in the Robertson Wine Valley is about slowing down, enjoying the journey and not racing around from one farm to another. It’s about connecting with the land and with the people that call this area home, and it is well worth the visit any time of year.