The Robertson Wine Valley- the idyllic escape

Wow! Can’t believe that it’s been almost 2 months since our last post. It’s amazing just how much can actually happen in a short period of time. We’ve certainly witnessed and experienced a great deal over the past 2 months- some of it good and some of it, not so good. But the overall journey of the past 2 months has been nothing short of incredible. We must make it clear though that, in the past 2 months, we have gone out but the spots we’ve been to have been determined by: last-minute decisions or preference to dine at places where we’re familiar with the food &/ menu. So we felt that had we posted anything we’d not be doing the places nor the readers any justice.

So you can imagine that after such a long absence our date night proved to be so much more than that. We had an entire weekend to explore the Robertson Wine Valley; and what  the region had to offer left us spellbound. Seeing that our experiences spanned over a couple of days we felt we wouldn’t be doing it justice to have a single post and thus in an effort to give a detailed account of our experiences we felt that a 2-part post would suffice.  Having decided to depart from Cape Town at around 8pm on Friday evening we eventually entered the Robertson Wine Valley just under 2 hours later (we’ll not go into too much detail about taking a wrong turn & ending up driving the length of Roodewal township). Thank heavens our hosts at Galloway Guest House were patient enough to stay up till our arrival. We did as one does after a long day & opened the door to the bar fridge and opened a bottle of vino (celebrating our arrival). Our excitement and source of energy would dissipate very soon though and we’d shut down. All the while being clueless to the surprises that awaited us the next day.

The next day we awoke up to the sound of birds, the bellowing of the resident bull and fresh, clean air. We immediately felt as though we were no longer city slickers, and were very happy to tap into the pace of the region. Again our hosts had a great deal to do with this (as much as they were there, they were non-intrusive) and gave us time and room to get into the groove & vibe of the weekend. Shortly after a hearty breakfast and giving a lift to one of the locals we made our way to our first experience of the day, Marbrin (for olive oil & olive tasting).

We could not have wished for a better start! And it’s true what they say: there is no substitute for passion and Clive Heyman’s (the olive farmer’s) energy is infectious. Never in a million years did we ever think that olive oil tasting would be on our “to-do” list….first thing on a Saturday morning. This stop is simply a “must-do” for anyone venturing out to the Robertson Wine Valley. It’s simply an experience that cannot be missed. If you want to learn about olive oils, or even if you don’t: this stop is a must!

Our next stop was at the Ashton Winery and once again the experience here couldn’t be more different than that of Marbrin. However, there was one undeniable and similar trait between the two: the service and passion of the staff was once again at the fore. Chocolate & wine pairing (no more needs to be said).

The pairings were extraordinary: local wine + local chocolate = magic. The Chardonnay & Chenin were fantastic but we both agreed that the Roodewal Reserve (2017) needed a special mention. If you thought chocolate was a specialty perfected only by the Swiss, you’d be happy to know that our own chocolatiers are producing incredible creations of exceptionally high standards.

After sampling some beautiful wines and chocolates we were off to Rietvallei. Picturesque. Pristine architecture and bubbly service.

Always great to speak to people who come from similar environments as you (the wine tasting room manager is a capetonian who’s decided to settle in Robertson) and her insight into how her life had changed following her move from the city was fantastic (it suddenly dawned on us that it’s a seemingly regular occurrence for people making the switch from city life to pastoral life.. and with seemingly relative ease). The beauty and serenity provided by Rietvallei was incredible and perhaps just what the doctor ordered in terms of finding a place where one can sit in relative peace and make an effort to take in all that’s around them. And the experience was made that much better with a glass of John B Brut Sparkling Chardonnay (2017).  We must mention that the Award-winning Rietvallei Sauvignon Blanc (2017) was great accompaniment for the meat & cheese platter-according to our taste.

After Rietvallei we had our 2nd last experience of the day at Zandvliet. Another unforgettable experience. We came to learn of a farm where many of the people working on it, were either born or had family that was born on the farm. And yet, having spent much of their lives on the property, they remain passionate about the wine farm and the work that’s done on the estate as well as have deep respect  for their fellow employees and visitors.

The cellar tour was a highlight for the both of us and then getting the chance to blend our own bottle according to our taste and preferences was a bonus. And we’re both making an effort to store them, only to be opened for special occasions (minimum 5 years from now).

We had a little R & R at Galloway after a long day out in the sun, but the evening was topped off by an amazing culinary experience we had at Mimosa Lodge in Montagu. The setting? modest. The food? extraordinary. We had a 4-course wine & food pairing and every single course did not disappoint. Again passion was at the fore here, and when a chirpy table of 16 or so  people suddenly goes quiet and the chirps get replaced by the sounds of cutlery scraping on the crockery and the occasional deep sigh, one is made to take note of the food. It’s been a very a long time since we’ve walked into an unassuming environment and walked out with our jaws on the floor due to the high quality of food & service.

Upon returning to Galloway Guest House to call it a night we were awed by the experiences that we’d had from the start of the day; kicking off with olive oil tasting and concluding with the food-and-wine-pairing experience at Mimosa Lodge. Bring on the new day and the experiences that lay in wait.

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