For anyone traveling from Cape Town eastwards along the coast, Route 62 is an alternative to the N2, and invites travellers to discover a string of charming villages and towns along the way. Visiting each of these country getaways has been on the top of my bucket-list and next in line was the area falling under the Robertson Wine Valley. For five days I had the privilege of exploring this magical piece of the country and discovered that around every corner, there was an incredible experience waiting to be had.
Robertson is the largest of the villages along the first stretch of Route 62 and I decided that the best way to explore the village itself was by a most romantic means: the bicycle. Route 62 cycles are conveniently located on the main road and have various hire options. After riding past the main church and hearing music from within, I was delighted to discover a doorway in and find one of the local lawyers, a chap my age, practicing the magnificent organ. After an informative chat, and a quick chance to tinkle the ivories myself, I headed to the Information Center. Here I discovered that on the map of the town and its surroundings, the wine farms were marked by actual bottles of their delicious drop – tangible invitations for one to taste the valley and its lifestyle. I accepted, and here are my top 4 experiences:
- An Underground Tasting at Weltevrede
My most memorable experience was the underground chardonnay tasting at Weltevrede Estate. Many of the farms in the region have underground wine store rooms. The internal walls of these discontinued concrete rooms have been opened up, creating an underground lair of cavernous tunnels. A path of candles led us to the room where we sat and experienced storytelling and chardonnay tastings. Inspiring tales were regaled about the visionary Estate owner Philip Jonker – including his venture of tending a vinyard on the illustrious Robben Island!
- The Wine Tasting at Springfield
It’s no secret how Springfield Estate has risen to success in South Africa with very little marketing: they simply produce the most outstanding wines. After years of revering their iconic Life from Stone Sauvignon Blanc, I was finally at the farm. As usual their wines lived up to their name and were well complemented by the beautiful ride up to the farm, not to mention the scenic waterside setting of the tasting room.
- Zandvliet’s ClemenGold pairing
Pairings are a commonplace feature at wine farms, and Zandvliet have capitalised on the fact that they grow a remarkably tasty ClemenGold citrus fruit whilst offering a unique tasting. Their Estate Chardonnay, Kalkveld Shiraz, Vintage Liqueur Wine and My Best Friend Muscat are paired with spicy panforte, biscotti and smooth dark chocolate, with zesty marmalade as the piece de resistance. I urge you to also try the ClemenGold gin before leaving!
- Bottling your own wine at Excelsior
With a tasting room built on the dam and a history as long as the earth, my afternoon at Excelsior was a memorable experience. Upon leaving the farm I wore a rather proud grin on my face, for gripped warmly in my hands, was a bottle of Excelsior wine that I had blended, bottled and labelled! It was a fun exercise, and I am confident that I will be as proud when I open the bottle at my next dinner party and sample this uniquely derived drop!
When Small is Big
After hearing about the Robertson Small Hotel and visiting the website, I knew in seconds that I a visit was imperative. The property is a 5 star boutique hotel located in the suburbs of the town, and good gracious, I discovered that in addition to dynamite, luxurious country stays also come in small packages.
Their attention to minute details cries allegiance to their name, and The Small delivers this in style. Knowing that guests are intensely familiar with their wine, the hotel provides four different types of sampler glasses for the discerning drinker. This is insightful and convenient, given that the minibar is complementary and comes stocked with Krone. The bed was one of the most comfortable sleeps that I have had the privy of, and the service was the perfect blend of professionalism and homely warmth.
Whilst The Small Hotel was my base from which to explore, my personal burgeoning administrative list meant that on occasion, the day was spent in front of the computer. Speedy internet, a veranda with poolside views, and a visit to the spa in between checking off items of my to-do-list, urged me to conclude that this must be one of the most stylish places to work remotely. It occurred to me that I may have found my new favourite hotel in South Africa!