There’s nothing like a gloriously sunny winter weekend in the Winelands – wine tasting in the sunshine, autumnal colours on the vines, green fields and misty mornings make for a perfect scenic escape from the city. Franschhoek, Constantia and Stellenbosch are the most popular wine routes, but Robertson should also be on your list – it’s a beautiful two-hour drive from Cape Town on the N1 and R60 to get there and it’s blissfully quiet, with loads to do.
You could plan your own wine route (the Robertson Wine Valley website has helpful info), or you could treat yourself and stay at the stylish Robertson Small Hotel, which is offering a great winter special. If you stay two nights or more at the hotel, you can do a savoury safari (for free), where the hotel organises a day of activities in the valley.
The savoury safari activities range from wine tasting in Robertson’s award-winning vineyards, boat cruises, picnic lunches, olive tastings to a tour and tasting at the Klipdrift distillery. It was hard to choose from options like an MCC tasting at Graham Beck, where you can do a tasting of five MCCs or a wine tasting by candlelight at Weltevrede’s cellar, but in the end we opted for the tutored food and wine pairing at Van Loveren‘s chic new tasting room. Here we were presented with more choices: wine and chocolate, wine and nougat and nuts or wine and cheese? Cheese ended up being the winner – five Van Loveren wines paired with five local cheeses (the Noble Late Harvest and the nutty Hugenot cheese was my favourite combo).
Then we patted donkeys and blended our own red wine at Excelsior (mine was a winter-friendly blend of mostly Shiraz, with touches of Merlot and Cab Sauv) – even corking our bottles and melting on the plastic cork covers.
We had to make an obligatory stop at Springfield, even though it wasn’t on the savoury safari itinerary, to pick up bottles of Whole Berry Cab Sauv to see us through winter, and then it was onto scenic dirt roads through vineyards and lush green fields dotted with whitewashed cottages to get to McGregor for our last stop – an olive tasting at Villagers farm stall on the quiet main road. Rheboksraal Estate sells all their olive products here, which we tucked into on an extensive tasting, trying out 10 kinds, from smoked to dried (the marinated garlic and chilli ones were the winner), olive chutney and olive salt. To top it off, we had an olive-themed lunch of olive bread and olive soup and a platter of olives, washed down with wooded Merlot juice.
Robertson Small Hotel
The 10-bedroom hotel, in an elegant old Victorian building with gracious broekie-lace verandas, lovely gardens and lap pools, is Robertson’s answer to boutique luxury accommodation. In contrast to the early 20th century architecture, the rooms are contemporary, with stylish, minimalist decor, gleaming bathrooms, flat-screen tvs and iPod docking stations (and a nice touch – a complimentary mini bar). Apart from the lovely rooms, the highlight here is celebrity chef Reuben Riffel’s restaurant, where there’s a well-priced seasonal menu of Mediterreanean/Asian dishes such as .
The complimentary savoury safaris (if you stay two nights or more) are on offer from May until the end of August 2013 from Monday till Saturday. Rates at the hotel start from R850 a person sharing including breakfast.