Friday, June 21, 2013

Roadt trip to Calitzdorp 'Port' and wine festival

There is a small town in the Klein Karoo, high up in the Western Cape called Calitzdorp. It gets super super hot in summer and freezing cold in winter, as we experienced when the sun started setting on our recent visit to the local Port and Wine Festival.

On our way up to Calitzdorp, we stopped in at the famed Ronnies Sex Shop and Road Kill Cafe.  Literally in the middle of nowhere – not a town in site – this pit stop has been a biker and road tripper watering hole for years. The barman brags about the way he's convinced thousands of women to donate their bras and panties to the establishment (not the roof). But in general, it's friendly service, good food and cold beer – what more could you want?

The festival itself is held at The Station in Calitzdorp – literally the old train station.
Food stalls and trucks fill the outside area, while the undercover 'shed' building houses the port and wine producers from the region.
I had kudu sosatie (kebab) from one of the stands and a packet of slap chips. Real rustic. My hubby climbed into the cinnamon pancakes and kudu sausage rolls.
We did some olive tasting too...

It was my first time doing a 'port' tasting (R40 per person) and it's easy to forget that the wines are all around the 20%vol mark. But it was so chilly and easy to sip away at the various ports, that the alcohol content only catches up to you much later!

They ranged from pale yellow and pink to dark brown and ruby. There were straw wines, dessert wines, sherries, fortified wines and the occasional regular red wines. I even had a port cocktail – a glass of port filled up with a rose bubbly.

straw wine from The Fledge & Co was amazing!

One of the most important things I learnt over the weekend was that port cannot actually be called 'port' on the label unless it is from Portugal. This is being phased out slowly in South Africa and legally, wines that were made after 2011 may not say port on the bottle. You will instead find things like: 'Cape Tawny' or Fortified Wine on the label. But they are all in essence made in the port style. 

The tasting festivities were followed by some rugby in the bar next door and then later some live music provided by Rudi Die Wynmaker and Valiant Swart.
We were then dragged off to a .... (rustic would be the euphemistic word)... venue called 'bosvarkie', meaning bushpiggy about 3 to 5km outside of town. We spent the remainder of the night huddled by a bonfire, listening to some Afrikaans singer with cheesy backtracks chatting to locals. I ordered a glass of red wine at the bar – there was only one kind, and it was R15 per glass – and it was sharp!
But we had to keep sipping to stay warm. Thank goodness the camera was put away for this part of the evening.

The next morning we headed out as soon as we were up, in search of a good breakfast.
We found acute little BnB with a restaurant that served up a pretty good English breakfast for R50 and even made cafe lattes (hubby was thrilled!). After brekkie we packed up the landy and headed back to Cape Town with mild hangovers and new memories...

I loved the way they spelled 'lemonmerange' hmmmmmm haha!

For more information on the Port Festival, visit:

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