Firstly, I want you to meet Lourens Marais. Not only was he my Wacky Wine partner but he is also a dear friend of mine. We have that type of friendship that is full of small traditions for all of our day to day adventures, like our favourite brunch spot after a night out in town, and our own tunnel song.
Now you may ask, “What the heck is a tunnel song? Just like the movie, the Perks of Being a Wallflower, we have our own tunnel song and as we drove through the Huguenot tunnel on our way to Wacky Wine, the volume was on max and Ella King sang on the top of her lungs;
“This habit of going, there’s no way in knowing. I promise I’ll always be a little runaway. “
As we exit the Huguenot tunnel we transformed into runaways… Wacky Wine runaways.
And now you may ask, “But why is Lourens such a key part of this story?” Well, let me tell you that after Ella King’s last notes faded away, Lourens broke the silence.
“Do you know why it doesn’t feel like home in the Western Cape?” Before I could utter a word, he explained his rhetorical question.
“Because we don’t explore this beautiful place that we so badly want to feel like home. When we explore our surroundings we will feel more at home, because then we know what beauty lies in all the unknown of moving to the Western Cape.”
With that in mind, this little runaway’s only mission for this weekend in the Robertson Wine Valley was to explore.
Just like that, the road ended and Wacky Wine Weekend started.
As we drove through the gates of Bon Courage, the good vibe crawled in. First things first, some white wine! With a glass of crisp unwooded Chardonnay our magical adventure at Bon Courage started. But the magic didn’t stop there; after the Chardonnay we filled our glasses with some Blanc de Blanc and with good music in the background, enjoyed the late afternoon sunset at this beautiful wine farm.
With more than 30 wine farms in the Robertson Wine Valley, we couldn’t get too cozy at Bon Courage and headed to Bushmanspad Estate, our home for the weekend. Wow! There are no words to describe the beautiful place we called home for only one weekend.
While we enjoyed the view from our cosy cottage, we sipped some Pale Ale craft beer! That night we started a fire in the fireplace, moved the couch so that we gaze at the stars through the big open door and opened some of Bushmanspad Malbec 2017. Way too romantic for two best friends, but also something so magical that I wish everyone will experience it once in their life.
So most of you will know that I’m far from home, and when I get the chance to experience the feeling of home, I jump at the opportunity. And that is exactly what happened at the Excelsior Winemakers dinner, a brief moment of home as I walked through the doors, a night filled with good wine, good food and wonderful company.
This was also the only time in the whole weekend that Lourens and I were early for an event. As we arrived, the owner of Excelsior wines, Pieter, greeted us with a warm smile and a glass of Merlot. For Lourens, the Wacky Wine Weekend wasn’t just to explore great wines, he was also on the lookout for family members that his gran had told him live in the valley. And before he could think twice about it, Lourens and Pieter started a conversation about his long lost family living somewhere between the beautiful mountains of the Robertson Wine Valley.
The night was filled with family stories about the farm and wines while we indulged in delicious food paired with great wines.
The hospitality of the Excelsior team didn’t stop there. While Lourens and I enjoyed a bit to much of the Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon, Ernst, the marketing manager of Excelsior, decided that it was not time for us to go home just yet and promptly disappeared. At first I thought he was just on his way to get another bottle of wine, but instead he organised us a room in the Excelsior guest house so that we could enjoy the feeling of home a bit longer.
With the hospitality of Excelsior still in mind, we were on our way to our next Wacky Wine Weekend pitstop, Platform 62, for a much needed breakfast. With a plate of scrambled eggs and bacon in hand we explored the authentic Platform 62 and ended up at the brandy tasting. This was most probably one of the best highlights of our weekend.
The magic continued as we drove on the gravel road between the olive trees on our way to Marbrin Olive Farm.
It was here that we were greeted by the sound of music and amazing olive flatbreads!
Marbrin was pure magic! While enjoying a beer we listened to the soundcheck of a band that would be performing there later that day. The musician in me just loves a soundcheck; I’m always in awe how the different instruments come together in front of my eyes. We felt so welcomed and safe at the Marbrin Olive Farm that we promised to come back later that day for a proper jol with good music and oven baked pizza!
We drove between the mountains of the Robertson Wine Valley on our way to Rietvallei Wine Estate, and what a beautiful venue we were greeted with. With a butter chicken curry in one hand and a glass of bubbly in the other we listened to the talented saxophone player, Hiram Koopman.
Our last night in the magical valley approached and we spent it attending the Zandvliet dinner!
The good music clearly didn’t stop at Rietvallei. As we got seated at Zandvliet, a jazz band greeted us with the likes of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald! I enjoyed the cosy fires and hospitality of Zandfliet, but I couldn’t keep my eyes of that jazz band. Of all the farms we visited, this was the place with the most vibrant atmosphere. People danced and laughed while enjoying great food.
An old man approached me and showered me with compliments about my red hat and before I could say anything, he took me by the hand and took me to the stage. There he danced with me to the beautiful sounds of Etta James. The magic that music can bring to an event is astonishing and I will always be grateful for that man that took me for a spin to the tune of one of my all-time favourite songs.
The wind greeted us the next morning and had blown over a tree during the night. And we were stuck at our cottage for a few hours. We didn’t mind at all, to the sound of the fire we enjoyed a last coffee in this magical place.
But Viljoensdrift was calling our names so off we went!
It was time to say goodbye to the magical Robertson Wine Valley. And I decided to greet it with a few glasses of Viljoensdrift bubbly! Lourens and I sat beside the Breede River and reminisced about the weekend. All of a sudden the musician started singing;
“Jy was nog nooit in Viljoensdrift as dit reën nie.”
And as those words fell on my ears I realized that you’ve never really experienced the Winelands of South Africa if you’ve never spent a weekend at Wacky Wine Weekend. With all the warmth that I felt at that moment, I answered Lourens question. Do I feel at home after 8 months in the Western Cape?
Tips for Wacky Wine Weekend:
- Choose your partner wisely. You don’t want to go to Wacky Wine with someone that doesn’t enjoy wine, and constantly wants to know where he can buy klippies and coke.
- Planning is key! The Wacky Wine Weekend is more than just visiting two wine farms in Robertson. Start your adventure in Robertson and explore all the way to McGregor.
- Dress comfortably and warmly! It gets really chilly at night and you don’t want to let the cold winter night get you down.
- Many wine farms offer excellent discounts over the Wacky Wine Weekend, so this is a good time to budget for you to stock up on some of our all time favourites and some new treasures.
- Don’t throw away the small wine farms. You get so caught up in the big well-known farms. But the small wine farms can sometimes be the places with the most magic. And trust me, you don’t want to miss out on them.
- When booking your accommodation, don’t settle for a place in the town. The experience on a wine farm can go on long after the tasting is done. Book accommodation on a wine farm if possible, it will make your experience just so much more worthwhile.
When the hustle of the city is too much or if you are a runaway like myself, then Wacky Wine is the place to explore. There is so much more exploring to do in the Robertson Wine Valley. But the few gems I found between the mountains of the valley will keep this little runaway’s heart calm until next year.