Although wine making in South Africa has roots buried deep in the 1600s, when good ol’ Jan Van Riebeek brought vines to the cape, the real wine renaissance began in the 20th century.
Since then, wine has become a huge part of our culture, and the Western Cape has become a labyrinth of beautifully landscaped and aromatic wine routes.
The Elgin Valley is the lesser known of these, and plays host to one of the best family friendly wine festivals in the region: Cluver Family Harvest Day, a celebration of apples, wine and cider.
Dipping into the valley, the air is thick with the scent of apples, and stragglers on the side of the road heave plastic bags bursting at the seams with hues of green and red. Harvest season has arrived.
It took a wrong turn and an easy meander along a dusty, orchard lined road to reach the venue: a hewn timber ‘village’ carved through a wild forest of eucalyptus and blue gum trees.
A natural amphitheatre housed the Magic 828 AM stand, wine tasting stations were set beneath log structures, and charming seating areas were made up of logs, boles, checked table cloths and buckets of freshly picked apples.
It was all outland rusticism; a nice change from the usual manicured lawns and pristine setups of other wine events.
Throughout the afternoon, groovy classics such as ‘Reggae Nights’ and ‘I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ streamed out of the DJ booth, while the tantalising aromas of wood-fired pizza and pulled pork mingled with the sweet fragrance of nature.
As a festival geared specifically toward families, it certainly excelled. An apple juice tasting station allowed kids a chance to join in on the tasting revelry, and a kids’ area manned by cheery child minders kept them busy while the adults sipped on wine.
The tasting options were varied and delicious. The Village Pinot Noir, Paul Cluver Chardonnay and Cluver & Jack Cider were particularly tasty.
Some live entertainment would have made the event that much more exciting, but overall, it was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. And the complimentary gift pack of apples, cider and wine were certainly a welcomed treat.
While Elgin Valley and the surrounding wine region may not be as revered and well known as the more notable wine routes, it would be great to see more people venturing away from the usual farms and enjoying wine from one of the more offbeat wine regions.
After all, Elgin Valley has proved that it not only offers some top class wines, but also events suited for the whole family – so you still get to be part of, and enjoy, the wine culture in South Africa.
The Cluver Family Harvest Day took place at Paul Cluver Wines on Saturday 1 April 2017.