Tucked into a deep and fertile valley, just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town, you’ll find the tiny town of Riebeek Kasteel. It lies and waits for the unsuspecting wanderer to accidentally stumble upon its riches, which includes hectares of fine vineyards and beautiful silver leafed olive groves. The Riebeek Valley has become my secret indulgence over the years; when the buzz of the city life stifles my sense of adventure, this is where I go to find myself again.
Escaping to the Riebeek Valley is the perfect excuse for a day trip from Cape Town. It’s an easy driving road that meanders through agricultural areas filled with trees and fields and lush greens. What I find most appealing about Riebeek Kasteel and its surrounds, is that even though it’s a complete foodie heaven, there is something for everyone to indulge in. I’m going to share a few of the best-kept secrets with you, because I can’t keep it to myself any longer!
Where to wine
For wine tasting and wine sales, please make sure you don’t miss Kloovenburg Wine and Olive Estate. Overlooking the tiny town through its leafy halo, this majestic original cellar has a tasting room that will leave you breathless. Personal attention makes Kloovenburg an experience, rather than just a quick pit-stop. Let the friendly staff tell you about the Du Toit’s family’s history, about their wines and their olives. For a minimal fee, you can taste a selection of their elegant wines, and learn more about their olive products, whilst sampling the different styles on offer.
Wine and olive tastings, sales: Monday – Friday 09:00 – 16:30 Saturday 09:00 – 14:00 Open on public holidays. Closed on Christian holidays & Sundays.
Where to dine
I’m such a creature for routine and comfort, and one of my biggest comforts is the Pleasant Pheasant Country Pub and Restaurant at the foot of the Allesverloren Wine Estate. It’s cheerful, it’s family-orientated, it’s cozy and just the perfect place to have a luxurious weekend breakfast or lunch. Their signature Pheasant pizza is the perfect meal to pair with some of the local white wines, with its rich combination of chicken, capers, chilli, peppadew and avocado. Make sure to get a table outside under the old oaks and while away a lazy afternoon in good company. There’s even a shaded and safe playground for the kiddies.
Open: Tues: 11am – 3pm. Wed – Fri: 11am – 3pm, 6 – 10pm. Sat: 9am – 10pm. Sun 9am – 3pm.
Where to shop
No visit is complete without shopping at Het Vlock Casteel. This picturesque all-in-one venue is situated between luxurious vineyards with views for days. The main produce of the farm is table grapes with more than 40% of the land devoted to vineyards. They also grow several other fruit varieties, including peaches, nectarines, plums, clementines and oranges. It offers a stunning wedding venue, but what I’m after, for all intents and purposes, is the farm shop. Filled to the rafters with olives, olive oils, wines, fruit preserves and other home-made relishes and jams, this is foodie heaven on earth. Everything is on offer to taste before purchase, and they boast with an impressive range of innovative goods using local produce at very affordable prices. An olive oil tasting as well as a wine tasting can be offered to complete the experience. You won’t walk away empty-handed!
Open: Mon – Fri from 09:00 to 17:00, Sat from 09:00 to 14:00, Public holidays: 09:00 to 14:00, Closed on Sundays, Good Friday & Christmas day.
Where to explore
Take a couple of hours and have a stroll through the quaint little town. It’s fun and quirky; it’s steeped in history and holds treasure troves of unique experiences for the curious adventurer. Meander through the art galleries and boutique shops; sample a few local craft beers or spoil yourself with a basket of home baked pies, cakes, rusks and other carb-friendly indulgences. Spend time in Short Street and appreciate the stunning architecture. Make sure to stop for coffee under the trees at Eve’s Eatery, which is every bit as theatrical as it’s unusual. Sniff out a few classics from the second-hand book shop and end your day with a drink on the expansive, colonial stoep of the Royal Hotel. On the side; don’t miss the gin-and-tonic happy hour between 5 and 6 pm every day! It’s a royal event of note!
Where to stay
I would strongly recommend spending a night (or two!) to enjoy this Valley in its full glory. I always stay at Klein Eikeboom Cottages just outside of Hermon; a mere 5-minute drive from Riebeek Kasteel. These self-catering cottages have been tastefully and elegantly decorated and comes with all the amenities a city slicker might need. A beautiful patio with built in braai allows for breath-taking sunsets whilst sipping on an ice-cold glass of local wine.
When to feast
Between the 6th and 8th of May 2018 the Riebeek Valley will once again host its annual Riebeek Valley Olive Fest – this is a must for your calendar!
I am so in love with the hidden Riebeek Valley. It’s a place where time stands still, where the soul is rejuvenated and one is reminded of the simplest of pleasures in life. It’s well worth a day trip from Cape Town – remember to pack the whole family, lots of shopping bags and of course your camera. Oh, and come hungry!