We live with over-stimulation. In the city we face the constant buzz of traffic, taxis hooting at potential passengers, hawkers advertising their goods on the street corners, billboards and flashing ads on every building, the hammering of nearby construction, and music leaking out of sidewalk restaurants. We have social media notifications and pop up ads, multiple tabs open on our computer screen at all times, the new Harry Styles album plugged into our ears, an email every two seconds and several Whatsapp groups sending GIFs of cats.
With this as our norm, moments of complete quiet and isolation are treasured.
A few weeks back I joined a media trip to the Langeberg district, which includes Robertson, Ashton and Bonnievale. These weekend trips are usually jam packed to show us as much as possible in a short time and at each stop you have to sit up, pay attention, take notes, make small talk, and fit some social media posts in between it all. Our second stop on day two was at Weltevrede and it was just the pause I needed at that point.
Weltevrede is a family-owned wine estate close to Bonnievale. We arrived on a classically picturesque estate, with a vine-covered pergola shaking off it’s last rust-coloured leaves, and blocks of gold and green vineyards stretching to the river beyond. We weren’t taken to the tasting area, however. Instead Steyn Fullard, Marketing Manager at Weltevrede and our host for the day, took us for a quick stroll past the cellar buildings and led us through a low wooden door.
Inside we were met by the dim light of flickering candles dancing across raw concrete walls, our only source of light once the door was pulled shut behind us. A single barrel stood in the entrance with a selection of wine glasses, and our host was pouring us a taster of bubbly to start our experience.
We followed the candles through a narrow tunnel and into a back room, softened with an Afghan rug, covered straw bales for seats along the walls, and a coffee table at at the center displaying the selection we were about to taste.
We were currently inside their old concrete wine vats, and on closer inspection we could still see stains that the reds had left on some of the walls. There was no light apart from the soft glow of the flames, no noise aside from our hushed voices, no cellphone signal, no distractions.
Just us, and a few bottles of their best wine.
It was so refreshing to stop for an hour and shut ourselves off from the world. Without a million little things vying for your attention, you are able to really focus your senses and experience the taste and aromas of the wines on a new level.
Being a family-owned farm, the wines at Weltevrede also have stories to tell. Try Oupa se Wyn for instance, a sweet Muscadel made using grapes from a block planted in 1926 by their Oupa, blended with fruit from younger vines. It is deliciously decadent and beautifully balanced so that you could easily be tempted to pour another glass.
The Jonker family has owned the farm since 1912 and Philip Jonker has a life filled with its own fascinating anecdotes. If you go for the tasting, make sure you ask about the wine he made from vines on Robben Island (a bottle of this was gifted to Nelson Mandela before he died and another was sent to Barack Obama, though they’re not sure whether he ever received it).
Or ask about the time that Philip taught a group of nuns from Uganda how to make sweet wine for their communion.
And ask about the school they are currently building to help uplift the local community.
We were entertained with a string of stories as we tasted our way through some incredible wines (the Bedrock Black Syrah was my personal favourite), and very soon it felt more like a fireside conversation somewhere in the middle of nowhere than a formal tasting at a farm in Bonnievale. When we stepped back into daylight an hour later, it really felt as though we had left the world behind for a little while.
Our tasting at Weltevrede was one of the highlights from our trip and I can definitely recommend it. Take a pause from life and simply enjoy the pleasures of fine wine and good company.
The underground tasting costs R100pp. They can accommodate groups of 20 at a time, and you have to be a group of at least 4.
Weltevrede is open Monday – Friday 08:30 – 17:00, Saturdays & Public Holidays 09:00 – 15:30, Sundays 09:00 – 14:00
For more info contact them on 023 616 2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org