Wow. We really do live in the most beautiful country in the world. Biased? Never! I have just returned from two action packed days exploring one of our most famous wine valleys, Robertson.
Four girls, one car, one valley to explore and countless bottles of wine. Challenge accepted. Every wine farm we visited had it’s own unique offering, history and individuals with stories to tell…
First stop, Excelsior. The tasting room is right on the water with picturesque views of the surrounding valley and up the ‘koppie’. We were hosted by the winemaker and owner, Peter De Wet. The De Wet family have farmed at Excelsior Estate, in the Robertson wine valley, since 1859.
After a brief introduction to the history of the farm and a taste of the blending wines, we got to business perfecting our very own creations. With careful guidance from Peter, I reckon we might even make it into the 2019 Platters guide. As a reward for our hard work, we were treated to a drive up the ‘koppie’ to see the Robertson valley from it’s best angle. The jacaranda’s added a dash of purple to the lush, green valley. It was the perfect summers day.
Winemaking is thirsty work, so next stop, for a well-deserved glass of bubbles and some lunch, Van Loveren. The on-site restaurant ‘Christina’s’ offers an extensive menu to suit all tastes. All dishes can be enjoyed with estate wines, many also served by the glass. The friendly service staff are always happy to make recommendations if you are stuck for choice.
After lunch, we were treated to a tour of the grounds. The family Matriarch, Grandmother Jean, is the brainchild behind the beautiful garden with many of the trees planted to mark special occasions and moments in her friends and family’s lives. The cherry on top was our chocolate and wine tasting with Tangled tree wines. I’ll definitely be back for that again. What a treat! The White guava and sun dried fig chocolate paired with the Sauvignon Blanc was the winner hands down.
The long, hot afternoon was slowly coming to a close, and what better way to unwind than on the stoep with an icy cold glass of wine? Where better than Mont Blois.
The history of Mont Blois Wine Estate and the Bruwer Family begins in 1869 when the first farm was bought. Six generations later, Ernst Bruwer now manages the 3 family farms in Robertson namely Mont Blois, La Fontaine and Sunshine. His wife, winemaker Nina-Mari, invites visitors into her home to enjoy the exclusive Mont Blois range. You can see the passion in her eyes as she talks about the different soil types and overall terrior that is the backbone behind her elegant Chardonnays. She also makes a well-rounded Chenin blanc and a delightfully fruity Muscadel. Whilst they do have red cultivars growing on the farm, she is still deciding which direction she wants to take them. Their passion project at the moment is building a dam, which is critical to the future of running the farm.
We arrived strangers but definitely left as friends. It was the perfect ending to our first day in Robertson.
After a good night’s sleep in the comfortable Belvedere Cottage at Weltevrede Estate, we were ready for another day of exploring. First, and most important, a glass (read: bottle) of bubbles and a hearty breakfast.
The highlight of the morning was a candlelit, tutored wine tasting with the farm’s marketing manager Steyn Fullard in the 100 year old underground cellar. Each wine has a story, most surrounding the owner and winemaker Philip Jonker and his incredible, entrepreneurial outlook on life. If you ever get the chance to visit, ask him to tell you the story of the nuns. I’ve piqued your interest.
A short drive down the road and we were at our next stop. Stepping into Esona is like stepping into the past. Their 95-year-old building was constructed for the sole purpose of fermenting wine in cement tanks (kuips). The thick walls ensured that the wine was kept naturally cool, and the walls were sealed with beeswax to ensure the cement did not taint the juice/wine. It was in the kuip that we enjoyed a vertical tasting of their single vineyard Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay and Shiraz.
The wines were expertly paired with Lindt chocolates and a variety of local preserves. The theme of the pairing was ‘taste the difference’. The philosophy being all wines are different and should be served out of the appropriate stemware to suit the cultivar. After the tasting, we lingered on the balcony enjoying the views, the warm afternoon and a farm style charcuterie platter with freshly baked bread. Heaven!
Our next stop was home for the night. Nestled in the Agterkliphoogte Valley lies Windfall, a small boutique wine farm and one of South Africa’s best kept secrets. We enjoyed a wine tasting on the patio of our cottage whilst the sun dipped behind the mountains. Windfall has an impressive range of red wines, a Sauvignon Blanc, a Rose and a Potstill brandy (very limited quantities!). The Pinot Noir was the group favourite. Very interesting given they are usually found in cooler climates. However, the fynbos notes on the wine gave it a very unique and enjoyable taste.
There are five guest cottage available, each with a unique features. The cottages are fitted with a fully equipped kitchen, comfortable beds, private bathroom’s and outdoor braai areas.. It really is the perfect escape.
Fresh from a good night at Windfall, we had time for one more tasting before heading back to Cape Town. Four Cousins, yes, Four Cousins (Mind blown!) The legendary Four Cousins now have a brand home, a new landmark in the heart of Robertson. It’s the most chilled spot in the valley. You can dine on wholesome food at the family-friendly restaurant and enjoy the complete range of Four Cousins products, as well as the craft Boet Beer on tap.
We were treated to all sorts of tastings and pairings. There really is something for everyone, even a fynbos infused gin. The ideal drink for the hot summer months ahead of us.
After a wonderful weekend away, we were all ready for Netflix and chill. It was an experience that I will not soon forget. If you are planning a trip to the valley and looking for some guidance, please feel free to get in touch with me.
I am already counting down the days until my next visit.