Oh, how wonderful was life pre-Corona? We were bar hopping, singing along to our favourite musicians and running away to our favourite destinations over weekends. One of these destinations is Robertson. The first place that I fell in love with when I packed my bags to move to the Western Cape and also the last place I visited before my home in Stellenbosch became my only travel destination.
On one of the many nights spent reminiscing about the past, I had a discussion with some close friends about the places we can’t wait to visit after the chapter on Corona has ended. For me, the answer was clear immediately. Robertson. And what a privilege it was to visit my home away from home for a weekend away post-lockdown.
So why is it so important to support local tourism now more than ever?
It’s no secret that the travel industry has been hit with the pandemic. I have seen friends and family lose business in a blink of an eye, as well as many trips and events scheduled for only later this year or just completely cancelled. I came across an article published by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). They stated that tourism accounts for 10% of the global GDP and with international travel on the low, the question is;
“Can local travel make a difference?”
It depends who you ask, but for me the answer is a definite yes. Local tourism is our people. It’s the people near us, our friends and family and our home. By supporting local travel, you are supporting sustainable travel and that is key in keeping your home the way you love it.
The statistics above is the reason why I shouted “support local, support Robertson ” through the Huguenot tunnel on my way to the Valley.
If you had similar conversations with friends or just missed a weekend not cooped up in your home, here is the best itinerary to spark the weekend runaway once again.
Stay at Windfall Wines Guest Cottages
Nestled in the Agterkliphoogte Valley lies Windfall Wines, a boutique wine farm with guest cottages and a hidden gem in the Robertson Wine Valley. The self-catering guest cottages overlook the valley with the mountain ranges as a backdrop.
We unpacked our bags at Barrel 41, one of 5 cottages on the farm, and immediately forgot about the hustle and bustle of the city. With a fully equipped kitchen and private braai area, we had the perfect isolated country escape.
Nothing beats a glass of their flagship wine, Barrel 41, next to the fire overlooking one of the best sunsets I saw in my life.
Barrel 41 is full-bodied and smooth. On the nose you will smell red fruits and a hint of spice. This wine went perfectly with some red meat. Coming from a small town and growing up on a farm, Windfall Guest Cottage was a pleasant nostalgic stay.
Spend an afternoon at Rietvallei Wine Estate
One of my fondest memories of Robertson will always be Rietvallei. The place where you will feel most welcome. The moment I set foot at Rietvallei, I was greeted as if I’m an old friend and that is just the type of pick-me-up you need after a long lockdown.
Summer days in the sun are best spent at Rietvallei, sitting on the deck overlooking the beautiful valley while sipping wine. One tip I can definitely give anyone that wants to visit Rietvallei is to not indulge in a big breakfast, because you don’t want to miss the feast of cheese, fruit and flatbreads.
We opted for a tasting of the John B series. The John B series was named after the 5th generation, Johan Burger, and what an honour to experience this wine by the Burger family.
The Sauvignon Blanc has hints of grass and passionfruit, and the best way to enjoy this drinking wine is with a lot of ice on a sunny Saturday afternoon next to the pool!
My wine partner for the weekend, Schalk, has a soft spot for a “pienk wyntjie”. His words. And he jumped at the opportunity to taste the John B Rosé. A “pienk wyntjie’ is in his strong opinion a starter wine. A wine that you start a sunny day off with with crushed ice and some strawberries.
Last but certainly not the least, is the Cabernet Sauvignon. With 56% Cabernet Sauvignon and 44% Tinta Barocca. It’s an easy-drinking red wine which can be enjoyed with various dishes, except for McDonalds, our lovely tasting host said with a giggle.
Something for everyone at Four Cousins
After a much needed morning getting our tan on at Rietvallei we visited Four Cousins. Four Cousins is the place you can visit with your entire family because there is something for everyone. Gin for your mom? Sorted. Beer for the weird uncle? They’ve got you covered. Whiskey for your sister on some kind of no carbs diet? Done. And lastly, some wine for the wine snob in the family.
As a big beer drinker and appreciator, I decided on the beer tasting and Schalk didn’t think twice when he saw the whiskey tasting.
Boet Beer is produced in the Robertson valley and is brewed using the fine mountain water with imported malt and hops. The range includes a Lager, Easy Blonde, English IPA and a Pale Ale with the Lager being my favourite. I also had a sneak “drink” of their Stout that will be available soon. The Stout was interesting and definitely something I will not forget with a rich coffee and dark chocolate taste. It’s not a beer for the faint hearted, but the hardcore beer drinkers out there will definitly find the beauty in this stout.
Schalk replaced his “pienk wyntjie” with the Scottish Cousin whiskey range and would recommend the 12 year Scottish Cousin with a cube of ice.
Celebrate life at Paul René MCC
A memory I will always hold dear was the morning spent with Paul René MCC producer, Henk van Niekerk, on his stoep overlooking the vineyards. At first I thought we were driving in the wrong direction, until Henk and his whole family came outside to greet us with the warmest of greetings.
Henk and his wife, Monica, moved to the Wonderfontein estate in 2008 and in 2013 Paul René MCC as we came to know was established.
As Henk and I reminisced about the Splash of Pink festival I attended at Paul René last year, we sat down for a tasting on his stoep. We decided to celebrate life on this moody Sunday morning with the Chardonnay Brut which is 100% Chardonnay. This award-winning wine has hints of apricot and apple freshness and ends with a dry finish.
Another sneak “drink” we enjoyed was the “baba boetie” of the Chardonnay Brut, which had more of a lime freshness, but still with the same strong dry finish, and it will be available soon for you to indulge in.
The Brut Rosé is full of strawberry flavours and is slightly more acidic. I absolutely love this brut. Everything about it screams elegance, from the colour to the taste to the beautiful labelling.
There is something magical about Robertson, and I’m pleased to let you know that Corona didn’t completely silence the magic, it just needs you to ignite it again!