• Kim Rabe

Wine on the Breede River

This past weekend I headed to the Wine on the River festival, located on Goudmyn farm about 13km from the center of Robertson in the Breede River valley.

I arrived early Saturday morning to be on time for a tutored tasting I had booked through the Robertson wine valley tourism. I was surprised to see a small queue had already formed at the entrance, so early in the day. These were obviously veteran wine on the river festival goers, who knew the importance of getting a good seating spot with a bit of shade before the crowds arrived. I was glad to be among the early birds to fully appreciate the beauty of the setting, which is as the festival name suggests located on the banks of the Breede River.

Our tutored tasting was hosted by Lourens van der Westhuizen from Arendsig wines. He had selected 19 wines from the valley which he felt displayed the broad spectrum of wine styles available in the valley. Robertson is well known for its Chardonnay but his belief is that there is much more to the area, with its diversity in soils and variations in temperature from the high altitudes of the surrounding mountains to the heat of the valley floors, a variety of cultivars and wine styles are possible for Robertson wine makers.

The tasting was more social than structured and we were encouraged to walk around and taste as many of the wines we wanted and ask questions about the specific soils and sites of these hand selected wines. I was not able to drink myself, being rather pregnant at the moment but had my trusty taster AKA the husband on hand for advice. From chatting to people in the group I would say some of the most popular wines tasted would be the Arendsig Chenin Blanc 2015, Jan Harmsgat Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Kleinhoekkloof Petit Verdot, Rietvalei Cabernet Franc 2013 and the Rooiberg Reserve Pinotage 2015.

My husband takes his role as chief taster very seriously and after sampling 19 wines at 10am, we needed to find some food. There were so many great food stalls, if I could eat sushi right now I definitely would have sampled the sushi platters from Mimosa lodge and wines, which were flying through the door- I think they even sold out. I opted for the roosterbrood with roast beef and caramelized onions that were being sold at the Excelsior wines stand.

The day was but young and this was a marathon, not a sprint so we hopped on-board the Big Ben boat from Viljoensdrift to enjoy a leisurely cruise along the river. From the water, we were given a new perspective of the festival which at this point was very busy and lively.

What I really appreciated about this festival is the diversity of wine estates represented many of them unfamiliar. If was refreshing and exciting to discover some new wines that are not sold in big supermarket chains. The festival has a lot more to offer than the wine of course, local olive and cheese producers were participating, there were live musical performances and even the kiddies were catered for with their own playground.

I had a really wonderful time at the festival and can’t wait to return next year so that I too can fully #tastethelifestyle of this diverse and very beautiful valley.