It’s the most astonishingly beautiful scenic drive past mountains and vineyards from Cape Town to the Goudmyn Farm just outside Robertson. This is the traditional site for Robertson Wine on the River, one of the valley’s ‘big four’ annual festivals. Situated next to the Breede River, the festival provides the perfect atmosphere to relax and enjoy all the pleasures our South African wineries have to offer. And believe me, there are plenty.
Free wine glasses and gift bags in hand, we made a beeline for the sophisticated-looking Graham Beck stand. As we sampled the Bliss Demi Sec NV, a delightfully bubbly blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, we casually surveyed our surroundings. Up ahead, a band covered Cat Stevens ‘Father & Son’, while people lay under umbrellas, soaking up the sound and the sun. Bales of hay served as chairs, accompanied by low tables painted like checkerboards. Around us, people milled about, some decidedly eccentric in odd hats and beads, others dressed more normally. Kids ran around a central play-area and jumped on the trampoline while their parents, having promised them a ride on one of the horses or a trip on the river barge, relaxed on the grass in increasingly horizontal positions.
The stalls presented a limited array of culinary delights, mostly olive oils, olives and breads. One stand, however, did have a series of different caramels and toffees. My love for free samples intensified.
For main meals, several stands were serving delicious-smelling treats from deep-fried calamari rings to oysters. We settled for a lasagne and some caramelised macadamia nuts and as the sun began to grow dimmer, we sat on the banks of the Breede River and people-watched, a bottle of Arabella’s Cabernet Sauvignon nearby.
One remarkable detail was just how friendly and good-natured everyone was. It seemed the spirit was catching. It helped that the weather was superb. We were joined on the grass by more wine-lovers and were even invited back to Montagu for a braai. As the afternoon wore on, the band continued to cover old-school rock songs, performing a particularly good rendition of Led Zeppelin’s ‘When the Levee Breaks’. We left in high spirits, carrying a bottle of bubbly from Bon Courage, and anticipating our return to the festival the next day.
Sadly the glorious weather didn’t hold. The clouds that threatened overhead eventually led to a downpour and the festival fizzled to an end rather sooner than it might otherwise have done. Nonetheless we managed to squeeze in a last tasting tutorial to revive our palates.
Robertson Wine on the River is the quintessential family festival and although Sunday didn’t quite live up to expectations, the overall outcome was superb. Beautiful scenery, beautiful people and beautiful wine. It’ll definitely be on my agenda next year.
Robertson Wine on the River took place 18 to 20 October 2013.
See images here