Wine Festival reviews
The Western Cape is wine festival heaven with an abundance of events hosted almost weekly in summer and monthly in the winter. All the wine routes promote their own festivals during the year with some of the larger ones like Franschhoek and Stellenbosch hosting diverse offerings throughout the seasons. I’ve ventured to most of these over the years and my tastes have naturally altered along the way. Once upon a time I favored the busy wild party festivals but now opt for the quieter more intimate experience where the quality of wine is at its best but of course they all have their merits and when there is wine involved there is certainly a party in wait.
Recently I have added two new wine festival experiences to my list:
Franschhoek was made for wine festivals, with so many quality producers lying side by side and an abundance of accommodation and restaurants in support; it is no wonder they have a regular line up of popular events. Festival in the valley is now in its second year and has yet to reach the large number of patrons one finds at Bastille festival or Uncorked but this was for me a good thing. I loved the fact that I wasn’t fighting my way to the front of queue every time I needed a beer refill or bottle of wine and could happily chat to some of my favorite wine folk with ease. The event is held at La Paris estate across the way from the Drakenstein prison and is a great location for a festival with lots of shaded seating; live performances throughout the day, a good selection of food, shopping and a kids section.
The choice of entertainment made it easy to take along my 75 year old father in law along with all my friends and their kids. This is a good family event that I am sure will grow over the years. The festival ended with a live concert on an open field showcasing a good mix of local talent. My only suggestion would be to host the concert later on in the day when the sun is setting as the Boland heat is unbearable without any shade for protection.
This event is held right in the heart of the city centre and involves a variety of urban establishments: bars, restaurants, art galleries and even a hotel offering wine tastings from various estates. The idea behind the event is to encourage new wine drinkers, making the world of wine more accessible and less intimidating.
We started out at the Taj hotel where we were given our glasses and a map of all the venues involved. In the first room, we opted to try some of the more unusual options available such as a Gruner Veltliner from Diemersdal, an Austrian varietal that probably most resembles a Sauvignon Blanc if I had to describe it.
The second room was in the underground vault and showcased some heavy weight red producers like Oldenburg, Raats, Hartenberg and Glenelly. Most memorable though was Kaapzicht who are now producing a Cinsaut, something you don’t see every day but that I rather liked.
From there we stumbled via the Twankey bar to the Gin bar for a chocolate and wine pairing from Boplaas wines and Honest Chocolate. From Wale street into buzzing Bree street we hit several venues that were bursting at the seams with tasters or should I say tuners. Bocca and Charanga restaurant, Publik wine bar and the Weinhaus & Biergarten,. We popped in at Signal Hill wines to witness Jean-Vincent Ridon entertaining a room full of guests with his charming French enthusiasm. Neighboring HQ restaurant and indeed all the restaurants in Bree Street were full to capacity and I must admit from this point on the night gets pretty hazy. Lots of wine was drunk, friends made, plans for the future discussed, a fun night indeed. We look forward to the events shaping up again in the new year.