Exploring the Robertson Wine Valley
After a pleasurable 2 hour drive from Cape Town, along the scenic Route 62 (which happens to be the world's longest wine route), we arrived in Robertson, a small town located in the Breede River Valley. This area is renowned for its exceptional natural beauty, unique microclimates and, of course, fantastic wines. Apart from being the perfect place for a charming countryside escape, wine lovers can delight in over 40 wineries in this region!
My three day trip to the valley kicked off at Arendsig (Eagle's View) - a small single vineyard winery and cellar. They use only the finest hand-selected grapes which are crafted into exquisite wines with distinct characteristics. The passionate winemaker, Lourens Van Der Westhuizen, grew up on this very land and is the first winegrower in his family. Due to the diversity of soils, a distinct climate and location, several cultivars flourish on his farm. From a fine Chardonnay to their outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon, your tastebuds will definitely be inspired by this down-to-earth estate.
For lunch we headed to Excelsior - a 5th generation wine estate and former stud farm, which boasts a beautiful Cape Dutch Revival guest house and rustic deli. I particularly loved their adorable tasting room and deck which extends over a tranquil dam, offering breathtaking views of the distant Langeberg mountains.
Here you can sample their full range of wines, as well as blend and bottle your own creation. With 220ha of planted vineyards and several citrus orchards, this picturesque property offers a relaxed rural excursion suitable for those who enjoy outdoor activities like mountain biking, scenic walks and fishing.
If you're a fan of the noble Shiraz, you simply have to swing by Zandvliet Wine Estate. This farm also cultivates the much loved ClemenGold mandarin, so you can anticipate an intricate wine pairing with all things citrus. Unwind by the crackling fireplace in their newly opened Kalkveld Lounge - a meticulously designed tasting room where wine lovers can connect and engage with the talented winemaker, Jacques Cilliers.
After tasting some of their delicious wines, I gathered enough Dutch courage, to take a tour of the historic (and somewhat spooky) underground Muscat tanks. This expansive subterranean vault also serves as an exhibition space, forging an exclusive platform for art and wine to be savored in harmony.
On our second day in the valley we commenced the tour with a mid-morning wine tasting at Springfield Estate - a 9th generation family-run winery with French roots stemming all the way back to 1688! As you drive down the treelined lane leading towards the tasting room and cellars, the scene is set for a truly authentic experience.
Positioned next to a small lake, Springfield's ivy-covered farm buildings provide the ideal backdrop for sampling this estate's skillfully made products. Hailing from single vineyards only, their terroir driven wines are simply exceptional. My favorite, "The work of Time" Bordeaux, is a classic and complex red blend, barrel-aged for 2 years and left to mature for a further 4 years in the bottle. Ç'est magnifique!
For our next stop we headed to Weltevrede ("well satisfied"), just outside the tiny town of Bonnievale. This winery has been in the same family for over 100 years, and the current owner, Phillip Jonker, is not only a passionate winemaker but also committed to uplifting the local community through a social outreach program called The Edge of Life.
If you plan on visiting, be sure to book a wine tasting and tour of their below ground vault cellar. Illuminated by flickering candlelight and shrouded in a mysterious atmosphere of dark silence, this secret cistern made for an almost haunting experience I won't forget... Back on ground level, guests can also partake in an interactive MCC disgorgement and bottling opportunity. Your handy work can then be taken home with you, where you can literally pop your own cork.
A quick drive down the road took us to Esona - this small yet striking boutique winery is located on the banks of the Breede Rivier. Previously a vegetable farm, its new owners planted the current vines here in 2004, and produced their first wine in 2010. The 90 year-old cellar was lovingly restored and now serves as a tasting venue, bodega and deli.
Esona also presents a captivating vertical wine tasting using grape specific Riedel glassware that highlight the unique qualities of each vintage. Pair this with Lindt chocolate and preserved fruit and you've got a match made in heaven!
Travellers can expect a range of accommodation options in the Robertson Wine Valley - from self-catering cottages to lodges and small hotels. Apart from their different styles, all these rural refuges seem to have the same common goal - to promote their genuine brand of country hospitality. (Check out Mimosa Lodge and The Olive Garden for lodging inspiration...)
Our last morning was celebrated with an introduction to Paul René MCC - a trendy bubbly brand hailing fromm the dreamlike Wonderfontein Estate. Farmer Henk van Niekerk and his wife Monica are the brains behind this great tasting and stylishly packaged product. Learning more about their sublime MCC's, disgorging and sampling them on the family home's gorgeous veranda was a bespoke affair that kindled my new found love for their fabulous Paul René Brut Rosé. Cheers!
If you're around for lunch on a Sunday, book a table at Bon Rouge Bistro situated on the Bon Cap Guest farm, a popular wedding destination. This country kitchen's buffet spread is a homemade cornucopia of delights showcasing the best in traditional South African-inspired cuisine.
Being wine country, there are several festivals that take place in the Robertson Wine Valley. An event worth scheduling on your calendar is the annual Wacky Wine Festival, South Africa's biggest attended wine festival, featuring enticing activities, fine food, outdoor adventures, live music and of course loads of WINE!
* I was kindly invited to experience The Robertson Wine Valley as part of a media trip.
All photos and opinions are my own © Traverate