If I didn’t already live here, this is a weekend that I would book for right now! Our little village, perched on a road that climbs through vines and orchards to reach a dead end among drifts of fynbos and proteas on the Sonderend mountains, is small, historic, beautiful. It is also home to a diverse collection of fascinating wine cellars and restaurants that range from award-winning fine dining to hearty country fare presented on a terrace with heart-stopping views across valleys, hills and undulating ranges.
Along with weekends as quiet and reflective or as energetic and busy as visitors wish, there’s a new attraction to contemplate: Geared to small groups of friends or family (8 – 12) or even corporate colleagues, Fiona Cameron-Brown is orchestrating slow wine and food weekends for visitors who enjoy taking the road less travelled and unearthing the secrets of rural cellars, small and large, who produce good to outstanding wine at palate-pleasing prices.
Mouthwatering meals will be as varied, the wines matched to courses, the hospitality will be warm, and the accommodation cosy and central or luxurious in a lofty setting. Weekends that are planned well ahead are themed, but groups who would like their own itinerary catered for, are welcome to discuss their wishes with Fiona.
The best part is that those who yearn to be pampered from start to finish, will relish typical itineraries that start with transport from Cape Town International airport to McGregor on a Friday afternoon, with sundowners and dinner to come. Saturday could see the group enjoying morning tastings at local cellars, and free time to explore the village attractions in the afternoon. Tastings and dinner at another venue will be on the Saturday evening programme, with more to follow on Sunday morning, finishing with a memorable Sunday wine and dine lunchtime finale before being taken back to Cape Town.
Slow Wine Weekends are designed for the 40 – 50+plus set. Visit the website at www.slowwineweekends.com. For more info, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your queries or call 023 6251450 between 10h00 and 13h00 from Mon – Thurs.
Among the cellars taking part is the large McGregor Wines, a producer of agreeable white wines selling at budget-beating prices, good cabernet, easy-drinking merlot and pinotage.
In a charming thatched cellar perched on the lower slopes of the Sonderend, Lord’s Wines are producing some fine wines: their pinot noir has been discovered by retailers in other regions, their cap classique is moreish, and their sauvignon blanc is a good choice on a warm day.
McGregor is also home to Solara, the valley’s first certified organic wine, a single vineyard sauvignon blanc that makes a memorable sundowner. A portion of profits from sales of every bottle is channelled to the Landmark Foundation which does sterling work in conservation of Cape leopards across the Western and Eastern Cape provinces
Ilse Schutte is a talented garagiste who makes her hand crafted shiraz and an excellent bone dry non-vintage cap classique from accommodation in the centre of McGregor. These make a fine pair and I hope she will include a rosé in her range soon, as she has made fine examples in the past. Bemind Wyne translates to Beloved Wines.
A few kilomeres outside the village Tanagra Private Cellar has already been discovered by hundreds of enthusiastic German visitors, and if you haven’t sampled their superb cabernet franc, grappas and eaux de vie of world class, you are in for a treat. Their rosé is in a class of its own, and is sold out virtually before bottling. Robert and Anette Rosenbach have restored a rundown farm with a magnificent wild fig tree to pristine perfection, and their stylishly decorated cottages are another attraction for weekenders from afar.
Jan Kannemeyer, owner and winemaker at Wolfkloof, has had a life-long love affair with merlot. Set in spectacular surroundings and producing wonderful wines, Wolfkloof’s cellar is located on the edge of Robertson.
Also taking part is well-known winemaker and consultant Lourens van der Westhuizen who makes great wines and enjoys sharing his expertise with keen winelovers. His single vineyard wines are renowned for their affordable quality.