Go ahead, mark the date: 2-4 September is the annual Bot River Spring Festival and you don’t want to miss it. All that fresh air, food and wine, yours to enjoy!
‘Bot Rivier?’, I hear you ask, ‘Now where is that exactly?’ Well, for starters, it’s ‘where real people make real wine’, according to the Bot River Winegrowers Association, who add that the character of the region’s wines is akin to its farmers: down to earth, honest and very sociable.
‘From historic and traditional wineries to the most modern, state-of-the-art cellars, the common denominators are a warm welcome; handcrafted, top quality wines; a commitment to biodiversity and the desire to share hours of sociable sipping with fellow wine lovers.’
See? You’ll be in good company if you like a bit of a kuier over good food and wine. So don’t forget to book your tickets on the double via Quicket now; it would be a shame not to experience all the goodness.
This small, close-knit Overberg community offers an authentic experience of hearty hospitality and wholesome country living. Bot River was originally called Gouga by the local San people, meaning ‘abundance of fat’ The same word was used to name the butter made in abundance by the Khoi-San, whose cattle grazed on the banks of the river. Merchants travelling from the Cape traded wares for casks of butter, and named the river ‘Botterrivier’ as early as 1672. Now, of course, the river represents wine!
11 Bot River wine farms are mostly family-owned and run, and the region has a reputation for ‘wine mavericks’. All will share unique products and experiences during the Spring Festival – ranging from olives, jams, preserves and deli goods, lekker wyne to fresh farm produce and indigenous plants. Expect entertainment too – local talent will line up to get folks hummin’ and singin’ along.
The vibe in Bot River is laidback and friendly, making visitors feel instantly at home. A mere hour’s drive from Cape Town to the ‘Botriviera’, the road passes through lush green pastures and acid-yellow canola fields, setting your mood dial on ‘chill’ long before arrival. The annual Spring Festival gets visitors to meet up with local producers and winemakers, getting to know them personally and taste their products out of hand, so to speak. And because good times and new friendships take time to enjoy to the fullest, the Spring Festival lasts 3 days. That’s so you can stay over and start all over the morning after the night before!
“We invite visitors to linger, so they can soak up, sip, savour and share in our passions and pleasures. The stuff that makes us stand out from other wine routes, with lots of barrels of fun thrown in for good measure,” explains Melissa Nelsen, Cap Classique maven and creator of Genevieve MCC.
The Spring Festival officially kicks off on Friday 2 September with a Bot River Magnum Magnificence showcase. This occasion sees local producers presenting some of their ‘big boys’ – magnum bottles – which the sommeliers will pair with food to match the magnificence. Limited tickets for the exclusive Magnum Tasting & Dinner at Beaumont cost R450 per person and include rare cellar releases, fabulous food and sheer sommelier excellence.
On Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th September farms host visitors to share unique experiences, like Luddite Wines’ sausage making course. Genevieve MCC’s will sell Oyster and Bubbles all weekend, along with magnums of its newly released 2012 vintage.
Early birds and outdoors fans look smart: catch hearty breakfasts at Goedvertrouw, perhaps to fuel up for a guided fynbos hike later at Paardenkloof Estate. This is also a great spot for family picnics, wine tastings and pairings.
Check out Ecology Lifestyle Farm, who’ll offer specials on fynbos plants at their nursery. A petting zoo, live music and loads of goodies on sale for your own picnic baskets complete the picture.
It’s worth meandering to other nearby destinations too, like Forage Restaurant at Wildekrans, where the chef is a keen forager who loves incorporating local indigenous plants in his menu.
No visit to the Overberg is complete without a visit to Gabriëlskloof, with its spectacular hilltop setting, endless views and superb cooking by chef Frans Groenewald. Local seasonal ingredients feature strongly on his menus, to complement the outstanding Gabriëlskloof wines. Take time for wine tastings or shopping in the well-stocked deli. During the Spring Festival weekend chef Frans and his team will be experimenting with pickles and preserves in their kitchen, sell it in their deli and pair it with the elegant wines in the tasting room. The Sunday Family Lunch is a great way to end the weekend en route home.
Child-friendly hosts for the weekend include Beaumont Estate where a pink sweet stall, pink kiddies’ bowling action, a playground and tractor rides will keep the little ones entertained whilst adults can feast on gorgeous jewellery, plant and produce boxes, delicious food and stellar wines. Barton Estate, all decked out with a jumping castle and tractor rides, will tempt passersby with complimentary canapé and wine or beer pairings and a wine blending competition.
A highlight event of the Spring Weekend will take place at Maramanna Polo Estate on Saturday evening, with a Pink Gin and Bubble Polo affair ending off the day’s entertainment. To drink: local craft gins and a bubbly bar, how cool!
Maybe a good idea to knock back a few of those before embarking on a game of Bubble Soccer:
‘We’ll have some bubble soccer on the go for anyone up for a quick game of ‘inflated’ action. You know those big bubbles kids usually play with on water? Imagine those… but with adults in them, trying to kick a goal through the posts. It should make for some hilarious viewing while we all sip on flutes of bubbly and G&T’s,’ chuckles Penny Verburg of Luddite Wines.
Looks like the good folks of Bot River know how to have a rip-roaring good time…
Tickets for the Pink Gin and Bubble Polo sunset party, starting at 5pm, cost R150 per head and include a welcome drink, a happy box of spring snacks and the bubble soccer action. Book via www.quicket.co.za
So that’s it, folks, now you know it all: The Spring Weekend 2016 sure promises Bot River bliss at its best. All farms are open from 10am until 4pm on both days.
Tickets available at www.quicket.co.za. A weekend pass at R100 per adult gets you a wine glass, an information booklet (collect at the tourism office) and two days of bountiful discoveries.
Limited tickets for the exclusive Magnum Tasting & Dinner at Beaumont cost R450 per person and include rare cellar releases, fabulous food and sheer sommelier excellence. Tickets for the Pink Gin and Bubble Polo sunset party, starting at 5pm, cost R150 per head and include a welcome drink, a happy box of spring snacks and the bubble soccer action.
And would you like transport? R100 per person per day, will take you round to the farms of your choice.
For accommodation options in the area visit: www.botriverwines.com.
For more information on the Bot River Spring Weekend 2016 contact Melissa Nelsen at
Cell: 083 302 6562 or email Melissa@genevievemcc.co.za.