I’ve briefly flitted into Robertson for the Wacky Wine festival before, back in the day when my little brother was trying to earn some extra cash by selling vino to intoxicated women dressed as pirates (a story for another day), but I’ve never actually done the experience properly. Thus, I was quite excited when our lovely friends Aimee and Davide were keen to join us for a full on wacky weekend out in the winelands.
We found a gorgeous electricity-free cottage out in Montagu called Klein Nektar. Approximately 15 min away from Robertson (maybe a bit more if you take the road works into account), the quaint little spot is a farm, surrounded by olive groves, purple mountains and the fluffy bovines next door. The lack of electricity makes you feel like you’re living in a simpler time – and, with the fire and candles lit, it becomes tremendously atmospheric, and perfect for cosy board games and early bed times.We arrived late on Friday night so had some supper and then went to bed early in preparation for Saturday’s adventures. Following a massive and delicious breakfast the next day (Aimee is the most incredible caterer!), we headed out to Robertson to our first tasting at Esona Boutique Winery. Sometimes, when you go shopping you have one of those days when the first thing you try on is exactly what you’re looking for. You try on a few other dresses, but nothing fits quite as well. In similar fashion, Esona was the first winery we went to, and our favourite one of the trip.It’s small and intimate and owned by Rowan and Caryl, who transformed it from a small vegetable farm to nine hectares of vines in 2014. Greeted by pinot noir and a view of endless rows of undulating vines, we sat in the sunshine until it was time for the fruit preserve and wine pairing. We were led downstairs to the converted cellar-cum-tasting room, which is just beautiful with ancient bees wax still lining the walls. Tom said he could imagine a few van Eycks dotted around to suit the ambience and I quite agreed with him – it has the feel of a medieval dungeon, in the best possible way.The tasting was led by Charmaine and was a very intricate and informative affair. She started by pouring the same 2014 vintage into two different glasses to show us how the chosen vessel can accentuate the alcohol. After that, she poured us the 2013 version of the varietal and asked us to sample it alongside the fruit preserve (the Chardonnay and preserved orange pairing was my favourite). We finished each tasting with a block of chocolate to seal the palate, and every time the wine changed the music changed as well, because vino appreciation is a multi-sensory experience.
Esona wines are spectacular and the pairing experience was not something I’ll forget in a hurry. We also all received a certificate for participating, which I thought was very sweet. Following Esona, we hopped over to Excelsior, where the very helpful Hannes helped me make my own wine blend. It was seriously exciting to pour the different measurements of merlot, cab, etc. into the bottle to form unique creations, and I was inordinately proud of my end result, which was sealed with a personalised sticker to add extra character and class. We sacrificed Tom’s blend to gluhwein that night, but I intend to keep mine for a special occasion.From Excelsior, we went to Springfield for a roast chicken and chips lunch, followed by wine tasting and a walk around the lake. It was a bit overwhelmingly busy so we didn’t stay too long, but it’s a gorgeous estate and I’d love to go back. From Springfield we started to mosey on back to Montagu, stopping at Marbrin Olive Growers to sample homemade cheeses and olive oils en route. Back home, we napped and then had a wonderful braai and gluhwein.We had to check out by ten so Sunday was spent packing up and breakfasting before heading back towards Robertson for a final tasting at Graham Beck. Graham Beck was another highlight of the weekend – they pulled out all the stops and had a massive marquee set up, decorated with hanging plants and chandeliers, and covering a stage, seating area and multiple food stalls. We tasted a few of the estate’s Champagnes and vintages (that Brut though. Please can someone get me a bottle) and then dived into a parma ham flatbread with parmesan fries and garlic aioli. Tom and I bought a case of 12 wines on special (deal of the century) and then we headed home to collapse on the couch and watch Masterchef. Thanks Aimee and Davide for a wonderful weekend, and Mira from Hot Oven Marketing for organising our tickets and bookings
A few tips if you want to go Wacky: Book accommodation outside Robertson – it was the best decision we made being a little bit removed from the main festivities. Book the events you want to attend well in advance – they fill up quickly. Don’t be overly ambitious – you’re not going to get to all the estates so choose a few you really want to explore properly. Do not leave your tasting glass in the car, break it or lose it – replacing it is a bit of a mission. Eat a lot – you need to counterbalance that wine somehow! Drink a lot… of water – remember alcohol causes dehydration. Lastly, take time to really appreciate the Breede Valley – it’s a very beautiful place.