Breede River Valley is full of passion: Here’s your insider guide…

SEPTEMBER 6, 2017

You know that you are in the famous winelands when the receptionist at your guest house is conversant with the maturation process of the complementary glass of wine, or the restaurant wine list occupies as many pages as the actual menu, or when the nearby bottle store only sells wine, spirits and beers from local vineyards, distillers and craft brewers.

Of course, there are also the hypnotically-ordered vineyards and their attractive farmhouses, the polyhedronised sun-bathed mountain slopes and the barrel-and-wine-glass signposts that proudly inform travellers of the local trade.

Still, it’s the passion that the locals have for their region that made my stay in the Breede River Valley so enjoyable. If you also want to go about getting the most out of your experience in the winelands, you can take a look at our insider’s guide to the Breede River Valley!

 

Four Cousins Restaurant & Wine Tasting

ROBERTSON

Voortrekker Avenue in Robertson is home to a number of good restaurants, wine shops, wineries and the famous Klipdrift distillery.

Park your car anywhere along this street and spend your morning eating, drinking, tasting and buying, but make sure that you end your trip at Four Cousins Restaurant for dinner or lunch. This great venue is also home to the Four Cousins wine tasting facility, wine shop as well as a fine dining venue and a more relaxed restaurant.

I ate in some truly magnificent restaurants during my week-long stay in the Breede River Valley, but it was the afternoon spent at Four Cousins that I enjoyed most. 

The food, service and atmosphere were awesome. The layout of the two restaurants, bar, microbrewery, garden, tasting room and shop are a pleasure to behold. Spacious, bright, and neat, it is clearly a happy place to be.

The wine list offers unbelievably good value for money and the Boet Beer - brewed on site, is very tasty!

For more information, call 023 615 1505, email them at info@fourcousins.co.za or visit www.fourcousins.co.za.

 

Buchanan's Brewery

TULBAGH

“I am finally getting to live out my passion, which is making great quality, tasty, craft beer. I am an optometrist by profession and although fulfilling, I got tired of selling people things they needed, but didn’t want,” explained Rod Buchanan as we stood before his mobile beer tap wagon in Tulbagh.

Named after Dutch Cape Colony Governor, Ryk Tulbagh, this scenic town is located in the ‘Land van Waveren’ mountain basin, in the Winelands. Rod typifies so many of the people of this delightful valley, who love what they do.

I sampled his Miss Molly, The Bruno, Sons of Stout and the Winter Ale and found all delicious. Consequently, I bought a case of his brews and took them back to my office were my beer-loving staff and I spent an afternoon swilling and swallowing these magnificent brews, all in the interest of good journalism.

For more information, call 082 411 4236, email them at rodtulbagh@gmail.com or visit their Facebook page.

 

Montagu Vines Guest House

MONTAGU

“Much of the artwork is from our own personal collection and, being seasoned travellers ourselves, we have ensured that the guest house matches our own standards,” said Pam Townsend, who, together with her husband, Ant, left their professional lives behind in Jo’burg to own and manage one of the best guest houses that I have ever had the pleasure of spending a night at.

No expense has been spared in making this guest house comfortable, attractive and a very pleasant place to stay.

Montagu is certainly one of the most beautiful towns in the country and one would expect your temporary place of residence to live up to these same aesthetic standards, and the Montagu Vines Guest House exceeded our expectations.

The décor, garden and view have been artistically managed and perfectly blended with the antique architecture and African asymmetry that creates a wonderful ambiance.

The fruit starter, at breakfast, was a work of art; our waitress and chef were as polite and skilled, and my omelette was just perfect.

For more information, call 023 614 3812, email them at info@montaguvines.co.za or visit www.montaguvines.co.za 

 

Old Village Lodge

MCGREGOR

This 4-Star, three-roomed guest house is as refreshing as a dive into a cool mountain pool after a long hike.

Attractively decorated and as neat as a pin, it is evident that owners, Chris and Nicolaas, have a passion for design and hospitality.

Our room, with its high ceiling, low door, wooden shutters and sash windows were evidence of the building’s long history, but the king-size bed, decorative wallpaper and glamourous furnishings had been fitted in a manner that made the room warm, welcoming and attractive.

The bathroom, towels and water pressure had nothing historical about them and more than satisfied my girlfriend’s extremely high standards.

Nicolaas took us on a short tour of the guest house and its garden and pool area, and I can honestly say that there was nothing old about the Old Village Lodge.

Breakfast was served by Nicolaas himself and I have to say that the poached eggs, scones, pesto and bacon, topped with rocket and surrounded by lightly-fried mushrooms and tomatoes have won my award for best breakfast.

“The breakfasts are not the same any two mornings in a row, so guests always get something different if they stay two nights or longer,” he described.

For more information, call 023 625 1692, email them at info@oldvillagelodge.co.za or visit www.oldvillagelodge.co.za.

 

Graham Beck

NORTH OF ROBERTSON

Wine making is an age-old process steeped in tradition, and at Graham Beck, you not only get to experience the excellent progeny of this fine art, but also get a taste of modern architecture and a fine art collection.

Graham Beck’s Robertson estate is known as Madeba, and the striking and innovative design of the cellar is responsible for producing their distinctive and world-class Cap Classique and still wines.

Cellarmaster, Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira says, “Quality is not a destination, it is a journey and our mission is the eternal pursuit of the perfect bubble!”

This perfection is obvious in every aspect of the Graham Beck cellar, from the architecture to the tasting counter.

My girlfriend and I love bubbly, and Graham Beck has long been one of my favourites. We spent a very pleasant afternoon in the huge tasting room with its big windowed view of the vineyards.

For more information, call 021 874 1258, email them at market@grahambeckwines.co.za or visit www.grahambeckwines.co.za.

 

Karoux

MCGREGOR

My mother was a Cordon Bleu chef and insisted that we eat with a near Victorian array of cutlery and crockery every night. As a young adult, I learned to appreciate the dedication and art of good cooking and as I came of age, I realised how a glass of wine and even more so, good conversation, could make a meal complete.

I think that, subconsciously, I long to recreate these wonderful memories and it is for this reason that I am always on the lookout for a restaurant that has understated elegance, artful food and an atmosphere that induces good conversation. And this is precisely what my friends and I found at Karoux.

Karoux is for husband and wife owners, Ryan and Aimee Josten, a fulfilment of their prayers and dreams. Having been a professional chef and restaurant manager at some world-famous restaurants, this adventurous couple have created a masterpiece at Karoux.

This small restaurant’s décor has a strong French bistro influence mixed into the simple Cape farmhouse building and, like a Prêt-à-Porter Chanel dress, is pleasant on the eye and leaves one’s subconscious wondering about the understated elegance.

Understated is also good description of the food. My pork belly with sautéed bacon and brussel sprouts, pomme purée, young carrots and pork crackling was, well, almost as good as my mom’s evening meal.  Ryan, compliments don’t come higher than this.

Nothing exotic, but every element of this dish was prepared with care and the hand of experience and of an artist shone through. Think of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers – so simple, but also so wonderful.

Just like the ingredients, the wine list was local and carefully selected. The Springfield Estate Whole Berry Cabernet Sauvignon was, for me, a perfect complement.

For more information, call 023 625 1421, email them at karouxrestaurant@gmail.com or visit www.karoux.co.za.

 

Tulbagh Hotel

TULBAGH

The Tulbagh Boutique Heritage Hotel is not just a name, but a perfect description of this delightful hotel. The hotel buildings may date from the early to mid-1800’s, but there is nothing dated about the luxuriously-appointed rooms and efficient service.

So many modern hotels lack character. The architects have been so determined to design a building that operates smoothly and efficiently and that all is in perfect proportions that they forget to give the building a soul and a personality.

The Tulbagh Boutique Heritage Hotel oozes so much character that it positively smiles at you when you ascend the stairs to the patio that fronts the entrance. Stepping across the threshold and the old wooden floors and beamed roofing makes you feel like you have been transported back a century or two, until you notice the shiny espresso machine on the bar counter and the chic glass door to the lounge.

My girlfriend and I had the pleasure of staying in the newly-restored Heritage Fynbos rooms located in the Winterhoek Manor across the road from the Tulbagh Hotel itself.

The building may be close to 200 years old, but the architects and builders, who managed the restoration process, have done so beautifully. The high roof, thick walls, deep set windows and solid door of the original building remain and have been complemented by glass walled showers, modern plumbing, rich upholstery and crisp linen.

A plunge pool, indigenous garden and secure access to both the historic Church Street and the commercial Van Der Stel Street form part of the Winterhoek Manor.

For more information, call 023 230 0071, email reservations@tulbaghhotel.co.za or visit www.tulbaghhotel.co.za.

 

Oakhurst Olives

TULBAGH

The scenery on the road from Tulbagh to Oakhurst Olives is simply magnificent. Watching the low clouds slide over the Tulbagh mountains and then dissipate in the valley was mesmerising.

Jan Hendrik Pierneef, arguably South Africa’s greatest landscape artist, spent some years in the Tulbagh Valley. I have often wondered at his particular use of blues and mauves in his Cape Mountains and on this road, I could see exactly why he chose this area as a subject and why he used these hues.

It won’t be long before this region becomes known as the wine and olive region of South Africa as the olive industry continues to flourish and expand - and Oakhurst Olives is the olive equivalent of some of the great wine-making houses of South Africa.

Situated at the head of the valley, the Oakhurst Olives’ venue is an imposing building with a huge and sophisticated tasting area. 

The tasting was as much fun as it was educational. I was always aware that different wines had a particular taste, but I remained ignorant of olives in almost every respect until I arrived at the tasting table of Oakhurst Olives.

Here my eyes, brain and, most especially, my taste buds, underwent an awesome awakening. The lady in charge of the culinary experience made the event educational as well as fun.

I left Oakhurst Olives with not only a bag full of paste, oil and fruit, but also with a pleasant understanding of how different olives can complement a particular dish.

For more information, call 023 230 0842, email them at info@oakhurstolives.co.za or visit www.oakhurstolives.co.za.

 

Twee Jonge Gezellen

TULBAGH

This is the home of Krone Borealis Method Cape Classique wines and a destination I was very excited to visit. In my humble opinion, MCC is one of life’s great pleasures and at Twee Jonge Gezellen, I found like-minded people.

The tasting area is set on the roof of the cellar and enjoys a view of the magnificent Tulbagh Mountains. There are an array of couches, loungers and table and chairs set on the wide veranda with complementary pecan nuts to cleanse the pallet between tastings.

Ah the tastings. Most of the Krone Borealis MMC’s was on offer including the 10-year-old Krone Phoenix. To be honest, this was more of a Krone appreciation visit than a tasting.  Our flutes received more than just a sample and we certainly did not complain.

Of all the wine tasting venues that we visited in the region, this was the one where visitors seemed to be most relaxed. Nobody was in a rush, nobody was making a tick on their itinerary checklist and the staff made sure that you sat back and enjoyed the experience.

We sat at our table, enjoyed the view and conversed with some of our fellow visitors about the joys of the Krone Borealis MMC. Truly, I will travel all the way back to the secluded Tulbagh Valley just to spend another afternoon at the Twee Jonge Gezellen estate.

For more information, call 023 230 0680, email them at info@tjg.co.za or visit www.tweejongegezellen.co.za.

 

Rosendal Winery and Wellness Retreat

BETWEEN ROBERTSON AND ASHTON

The guest house and wine cellar have a typical Cape Dutch façade and the turning circle in front of reception makes unloading your baggage less of a chore. “You’ll love the chardonnay, it’s a well-balanced wine with typical citrus and buttery aromas, the dry finish comes from the few months it spent in new, French Oak barrels,” my girlfriend and I were informed by the receptionist, as she presented us with a complementary glass on arrival.

Well, it was so good that we asked for another glass as we unpacked and enjoyed the view from the veranda. The room was spacious with a king-size bed and numerous amenities. The large, double doors opened onto the veranda and at the back of the room was an open plan bathroom. His and hers basins, a shower, an enclosed toilet and a large tub made up the under floor heated bathroom. Being wine country, each room has an ice bucket and stand and when you match this to the huge tub, well, you’ll no doubt find yourself, as we did, soaking away the day’s exploratory dust with a bottle of your day’s favourite find on ice, and a glass in hand.

Although we did not get a chance to try the wellness centre, we found the garden to be very pretty and the pool and deck chairs positioned just right to enjoy the view of the vineyards. Of course, we did not skip the opportunity to taste the Rosendal wines in their tasting cellar. Apart from the delicious Chardonnay that we had on arrival, we also particularly enjoyed the Merlot with its flavours of mulberries, plums and, my favourite, chocolate.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the dining room overlooking the vineyards. The coffee was excellent and the breakfast spread of yoghurts, cereal, fruit, cold meats, breads and jams served as a great appetizer for the delicious fry-up of eggs, bacon, mushrooms and tomatoes. The marmalade was the best I have ever had!

Having slept like the dead and enjoyed a nourishing breakfast, we found ourselves ready to continue our exploration.

For more information, call 023 626 1570, email them at info@rosendalwinery.com or visit www.rosendalwinery.com 

Contact Franchisee Maritsa Beattie
Winelands East contact number 0836583948
Winelands East email address maritsa@homefoodandtravel.co.za