Just 30 minutes into the Franschhoek Uncorked Festival a long line of excited chatter was already snaking out of the ticket and tasting venue of Vrede en Lust. As the morning progressed, so did the procession of cars and shuttles which was steadily weaving its way in and out of the various wine farms on the route, enticing startled travellers on the main road to Franschhoek to join in the fun.
The annual Franschhoek Uncorked Festival is a unique wine festival that offers wine enthusiasts the opportunity to discover exciting new releases from wineries in and around the scenic Franschhoek valley. And this voyage of discovery is not limited to the confines of an oversized marquee tent. Instead wine connoisseurs, foodies and music fans are invited to enjoy the fresh country air and exquisite views of the Franschhoek Valley whilst travelling from farm to farm and revelling in a variety of live entertainment, superb wines and delectable culinary treats.
This year a total of 19 wineries participated in the festival and true to the organisers’ promise, there was literally something for everyone, from cellar and vineyard tours, food and wine pairings, art exhibitions and fresh food markets, to French-inspired music by local musicians and a rare exhibition of über-luxury cars. With such a variety of events and entertainment, coupled with the prospect of excellent food and wine, it was certain that whatever your fancy might be it was going to be tickled at the Franschhoek Uncorked Festival.
Many of the wine estates made use of the opportunity to launch some of their latest vintages. At Plaisir de Merle we were able to taste their 2012 Sauvignon Blanc with its passion fruit and pineapple undertones. At Noble Hill their very first Rosé made its debut while Allée Bleue released a new vintage Brut Rosé. At La Chataigne we were treated to three new vintages: the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, the Kastanje and the Rosé. Particularly popular was the Chardonnay Margarita and Shiraz cocktail conjured up especially for the festival by Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards.
The La Fiesta Lynx! at Lynx winery was also a great success. As though they had uncorked themselves, people made themselves quite at home at this picturesque winery situated on the foothills of the Klein Drakenstein Mountains. Lynx Wines is the smallest wine estate in the Franschhoek Valley and produces less than 3500 cases per year. I am quite certain that we must have made a very large dent in their annual produce during the Franschhoek Uncorked Festival! The wines, especially the Shiraz, were absolutely exquisite, as were the tapas prepared by their resident chef.
Some of the other food highlights included the Swedish-inspired gourmet hotdog at La Chataigne, as well as the tapas in the beautiful restaurant of Maison Estate. For those who preferred traditional ‘Kaapse’ food Solms-Delta was right on cue, offering samples of the diverse culinary heritage of Afrikaner boerekos with its strong Cape Malay influence. Grande Provence had also opted for tapas including a five course degustation menu paired with some of the Grande Provence wines and New Zealand’s finest Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs by way of comparison.
As groups, large and small, travelled from farm to farm, new friendships were formed. It was not long before total strangers were playing games of outdoor chess and draughts or challenging each other to French boules, while others danced (or at least swayed!) to the jazzy rhythms of local bands and musicians.
Franschhoek it seems has got the formula of hosting a successful festival down to a tee. Whether it is the Franschhoek Literary Festival, the Franschhoek Uncorked Festival or the Bastille Festival, the people of this small valley certainly know how to throw a good party.
Andra le Roux-Kemp
The Franschhoek Uncorked Festival was held on participating wine estates in the Franschhoek Valley over the first weekend of September 2012.