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CAPE ROUTE 62 IN THE PRESS

Explore the Robertson Valley

2010-03-26

End of February, it is supposed to be in the mid thirties daily, but now it is a rainy day.  A group of us is on another trip with Cape Winelands, this time we will be exploring the Robertson Wine Valley and Langeberg Municipality area.  I did not quite know what to pack, I am used to sunshine weather this time of year, but it is raining, so what now?  I packed my gumboots, shorts and a jacket. 

I arrived a few minutes before the rest of the party at Nerina Guest Farm where we will taste some wine and do a trip on horseback up the mountain to enjoy the exquisite view of the valley with a glass of Miskien Christine.  The horses were already saddled up and wandering on the grass in front of the tasting room.  I met with Lettie van Zyl, the manager of Robertson Tourism.  When Paarl Rock Tours arrived with the touring party, Nerina Guest Farm treated us with freshly baked vetkoek, farm butter, honey and real ‘moer’ coffee.  We were all looking forward to the horse riding part; it was the first time for some on the back of that amazing animal.  Renee Burger introduced us to the horses and we were ready to travel by horseback for the rest of the morning.  How wonderful it was, sitting on the back of a horse and suddenly it started pouring!  The farmers really needed the rain so we did not complain too much, turned around and went back to the tasting room.  All wet, the gumboots long forgotten, we sat on the stoep each with a glass of Miskien Christine.  This wine is a very nice Red Muscadel and on the lable it states – Only for responsible Adults.  We also tried Oompie se Oeps.  This is an almost natural blend between Pinotage and Shiraz.  It all happened on a Monday morning while Oompie was looking for his glasses.  After two years he discovered that the Pinotage and Shiraz vines were planted shoulder to shoulder, planted in the same soil, under the same sun at the foot of the Rooiberg Mountain.  Oompie decided to leave them as it is, they were growing together for a long time now, so why separate them now?  Visit www.nerinaguestfarm.com if you would like to learn more about the interesting wines of Nerina Guest Farm.

Back on the bus and off to lunch at De Oude Kombuis.  This lovely farmstall and restaurant is situated just before you enter Robertson from Cape Town.  They are open 6 days a week, Sunday to Friday.  We all ordered something hot to drink and while we were waiting for our food we did some browsing in the farmstall.  You can buy wine at Cellar prices, nice handcrafted gifts, fresh fruit and freshly baked bread.  I ordered Meraais Chicken Pie and what a delicious meal it was.  The food is very nicely presented and the atmosphere was very homely.  After the delicious lunch I almost felt like taking an afternoon nap, but our next stop was at Hester and Lisa’s at McGregor.

McGregor is a quaint village on ‘the road to nowhere’.  If you need a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the city life, be sure to visit McGregor.  You will find art studios, a potter, a Saturday local market, a donkey sanctuary and lots more.

Hester and Lisa are two ladies in McGregor, making a living out of their passion.  The passion for baking bread.  These two ladies do everything themselves, from preparing the dough, stoking the fire, kneading the dough and selling the bread at the local farmers market on a Saturday morning.  Hester and Lisa are very passionate about bread and the whole process of making bread.  They live in this pretty house in McGregor, the backyard are full of herbs and trees, a place that every one would love to be.  Hester is also a hairdresser and artist.  She has a little studio where se paints and where one can view her paintings. 

Down the street we met with Paul and Nina.  They are the potters of McGregor.  Paul showed us some of his techniques on the potters’ wheel.  Some of their work includes:  wood-fired terracotta, electric-fired domestic ware, high temperature, wood-fired, salf gaze porcelain and stoneware and sculptural and decorative raku pieces.  The workshop and showroom is open 7 days a week, but rather phone before visiting just to avoid disappointment.  Contact them at 023 625 1599.

From McGregor we traveled on the R60 towards Ashton.  We drove past a few farms, wine cellars, fruit packers and then we stopped at Zolani.  Zolani is the township in Ashton.  We visited the Zolani Community Project.  The community project is all about upliftment and teaches the people how to supply food for themselves.  The project manager is very proud of their gardens and he explained to us that they use the gardens to grow tomatoes, pumpkins, beetroot and beans to a certain size.  There are about 150 gardens that receive the little plants and grow them further into vegetables that they can eat or sell.  At the project there is also a team that creates nice outdoor furniture out of old wine barrels.

Next stop were Avalon Springs Hotel in Montagu where we spend the night.  The Avalon Springs offers a luxury Spa Resort Hotel, Mountain Chalets, 43C mineral and thermal spa, conference centre and holiday spa.  The accommodation consists out of a Presidential suite, De Luxe suites, luxury rooms and garden suites and Semi lux apartments.  There are two Restaurants; Cogman’s Restaurant and the V.I.E.W.S Restaurant.  We had a very nice 4 course meal at the V.I.E.W.S restaurant.  The hot springs are open until 11pm and then they close for an hour to clean the pools.  The pools and spas are fed directly from the spring and the waters are neither heated, filtered or in any way treated.  The pools and spas vary in temperature from 43C to 30C and some areas of the complex are reserved only for resident guests.

Early morning we had a scrumptious breakfast at the V.I.E.W.S restaurant.  Our first stop for the day; La Montanara Dairy and La Montagne Deli.  These views one can not describe, you have to experience it yourself.  At the deli you can taste their cheese with some of the Van Loveren wines or you can buy yourself freshly baked bread.  They supply Feta Cheese to Woolworths and the do make Goats Cheese.  You can find the following cheeses at the deli:  Danish feta’s, Pecorino, Parmesan, Haloumi, Cheddars (matured as well) and also farm butter.  If you are not into the whole wine tasting thing, you can sit and drink in the views of the Langeberg Mountain range.  You can book a picnic trip up the mountain at the waterfall.  You can even do a day trip to La Montagne, book the place for function or just use it for a pitstop on your way.  The Deli is open 7 days a week.

We traveled through a little pass and then suddenly the little town of Bonnievale was in front of us.  Bonnievale is the town of cheese and wine.  In Bonnievale you can find the following:  3 cheeseries, an ever flowing river, plenty of wine cellars, a stone church built for a dying girl, a boat trip and lots of friendly people. 

We went to see the Myrtle Rigg Church.  This church was built by request of a little girl while she was dying.  Mary Myrtle Rigg was 7 years old when she was dying of meningitis.  She made her dad promised to build a little church in her honour.  Today you can still visit the church.  The church is used for weddings and sermons on a Sunday.

Before we boarded the Breede River Goose we had to stop at the PEP Stores in Bonnievale.  We were so confused by the weather, that some forgot to bring hats for our trip on the Breede River Goose.  We met with our Skipper, Kelvin Phillips and he took us on an hour and a half cruise along the Breede River.  What beautiful scenery.  Bronwyn from Bonnievale Cellar were also with us on the boat and she presented some of Bonnievale Wine Cellars wine to us.  Bonnievale Wine Cellar is a Co-operative wine cellar.  A few years ago 3 wine cellars in the area, Bonnievale Cellar, Merwespont and Nordale Wine Cellar amalgamated and formed Bonnievale Wine Cellar.  They do a wide variety of wines.  If you ever meet with Bronwyn, ask her to tell you more about the Animal Wine Tasting.  She is very passionate about wine and can tell you the whole story from the vine to the glass.  We had a feast on the boat.  The moment we got off the boat a delicious braai was awaiting us on the banks of the river.  You can book the Breede River Goose and bring your own picnic or they can do the catering for you.  They also have camping sites available.

Our last stop was at the home of the famous Four Cousins, Van Loveren.  We met with Bonita Malherbe the marketing manager of Van Loveren.  Bonita was busy with the Hands on Harvest festival that were taking place that weekend, but nevertheless, she let us all feel at home.  What a nice way to end our trip, sitting underneath the trees, each with its own history.  The farm history is actually very interesting.  The Retief family owned the farm since 1973 when HPB Retief’s father, who was from Paarl, bought some land in the Robertson area.  Previously this particular farm formed part of a large farm known as Goudmyn (Gold Mine).  The name came due to the fact that a large sum of money was paid for the original farm.  Later on the farm was subdivided into nine farms and Hennie started farming on Goudmyn F.  During 1939 Hennie married Jean van Zyl.  Jean did not like the name Goudmyn F, because F stood for “Fools and Failures”.  A lady name Christina van Loveren was married to the first Van Zyl to come to South Africa and shortly after her marriage, Jean was fortunate to optain the bridal kist in which Christina had shipped over her trousseau.  Eventually Jean persuaded Hennie to rename the farm to Van Loveren. 

Each tree in the garden resembles special moments in their lives or special occasions, historical events, political figures, grandchildren, graduations and many more.

The group was very excited about meeting one of the cousins, Hennie Retief.  He told us a bit about the cellar and how the Four Cousins brand started.  They also released the 2010 Light Rose lately.  This is a real refreshing wine.

Before we headed home we received a special Recipe from Ouma Jean.  She used to serve Sweetcorn Fritters to welcome visitors to Van Loveren in the 1980’s.  This Sweetcorn Fritters are recommended to enjoy with a glass of Van Loveren wine!

If you feel in the need of blue sunny skies, real hospitality, relaxing days and a slow living, make sure to plan a trip to this Valley.  The moment you arrive you will feel as if you arrived at home and you can relax and I promise you that you will be back again.


 


 


 


 

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