Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wacky Wine 2012 wrap-up

This year's Wacky Wine was my best so far!

I'm a bit of a planner and ahead of time like to identify which farms I want to visit, which activities I want to do etc etc... but this year's trip started out a bit differently.

First we were running late as we had been to the Roxette concert the night before and were feeling a little tired (read: hungover) on Saturday morning. But nevertheless we packed up all our goodies, stopped at the new Vida e at Prestwich for take-away coffee (which, by the way is a really cute spot, find out more about it here:, and were on our way.

Normally on the 2-hour trip to Robertson I spend time going trough the events programme highlighting options of places to see and work out in which order to see them on the map. This year I forgot to print the programme in advance, so that wasn't going to happen. I had to be more 'spontaneous'.

We arrived in Robertson, collected our passes and decided to find our accommodation, Bonnievale River Lodge, set up camp and then get started with the tasting. 

Of course, we took a wrong turn and before we knew it, we were in McGregor. This is the only farm I've been to all past three years in a row, but at least we had a chance to grab some lunch and recheck our directions. I also bought some books at a second-hand store and some olive oil. We really enjoyed the pinotage from McGregor Winery (, but knew we shouldn't drink too much before we had set up the tent, so off we set again to find our accommodation.

McGregor Winery

We ended following a dirt road for quite some time before we saw a sign for a small boutique winery – so small it didn't make it on the map – Buffalo Creek Wines. So, we drove up to what was the winemaker's house and tried the two wines on offer before asking for some directions. We realized we still had a bit of a way to go, so we thanked them, bought a bottle of their Pinotage and carried on our way.

Eventually we landed up at Bonnievale Cellars (, which we knew was close by, so we went inside to ask the locals. We were immediately asked to jump on the scale in hopes of 'winning our weight in wine', before being whisked off to the busy tasting room. Besides not being able to find our accommodation, we became anxious to find a spot to settle down and enjoy the rugby. Bonnievale Cellars' tables were all fully booked, so we had to find an alternative.

Bonnievale Cellars

We figured out (with the help of some locals) that we had already passed our accommodation, so back we went, thankfully only 2.4km away, to finally set up camp. On our way there, we realised that the main road from the accommodation place to the town of Bonnievale had flooded, so we would have to use the roundabout road again. Finally arriving at Bonnievale River Lodge (, we had a sweet little place with a deck, and we promptly decided to set up camp on the deck instead of the ground. Hurriedly we unpacked and thankfully the neighbors had an electric pump for our blow-up mattress, because I was in no mod for manual labour.

Bonnievale River Lodge

Bonnievale River Lodge

Bonnievale River Lodge

It was now almost 5pm, which meant the rugby was about to start and that wine tasting at the farms was at an end for the day. We stopped at one more spot – a wine cellar in the town of Bonnievale – as we were driving the pub to catch the game. And I'm so glad we did as they had incredible wines for such affordable prices, that we walked away with three cases of whites and red. It was called Van Zylshof Wine Estate ( They make an excellent Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay wooded and unwooded and a great red blend of Cab/Sauv Merlot, all around the R35 - R40 price mark per bottle. We also saw that they were hosting a traditional farmer's breakfast the next morning, so we decided to go back on Sunday...

Van Zylshof Wine Estate

Van Zylshof Wine Estate
Just down the road was the pub/restaurant: Grand Arena. It was filled with towns folk and drunk wine tasters, but we managed to grab a decent meal of rump steak, pizza and mulva pudding, followed by a bottle of Van Zylshof wines. After the rugby we mingled with the locals and had a couple brandy and cokes... as you do in these parts of the country.
We had definitely had enough to drink and it was time to head off to bed and get snuggly in our freezing cold campsite.

The next day we woke up slowly, explored the site, showered, packed up and went for breakfast.
The lodge also has cottages, and the accommodation is all very reasonable at R100 per person per night for camping and the rooms go fro about R240pp sharing.

The breakfast at Van Zylshof saved me! R50 for fruit salad and yoghurts followed by eggs, bacon and sausages with farm bread and tea or coffee... hmmmmm

Van Zylshof Wine Estate farmer's breakfast - swapping wine for juice
After that we were ready to visit a couple more farms before heading back to Cape Town. Our neighbours had told us about a cute little farm called Quando Wines (, which was their favourite. It was on the road back to Robertson, so we made that our first stop. We were also the first people to arrive at the farm, so we got stuck into a good wine tasting and conversation with the wine maker. They have an amazing dessert wine, which I couldn't resist buying and their Chenin Blanc Viognier was yummy too (around R50 per bottle), so we bought some and carried on back to Robertson.

Quando Wines tasting room

Quando Wines

Our last stop was at Springfield ( in Robertson, where we met up with a couple friends. They had some lovely live music – a jazz band – and it wasn't too packed with people, which made the tasting really pleasant. It is such a beautiful winery, I couldn't believe it was only my first time there. They have a great red blend as well, the Work Of Time Bordeaux blend, plus all proceeds from their Thunder Child red go towards an orphanage in Robertson.


I was so not ready to leave and super sad as there were farms I really wanted to visit that i didn't make it to this year... but as my Fiance says, 'You have to leave some for next year's trip'.
Wacky Wine Weekend:

finally at home again... stocked up


Jeanne said...

Springfield is without a doubt one of my favourite estates in the country - both for the setting and their incredible wines. Envious of your wacky wine weekend!

Amy Hopkins said...

It was a lovely weekend and I can't wait until next year's festival :-)