No, this hasn’t got anything to do with Children of the Corn. We live in one of the most wine-crazy parts of the world and rightfully so, there are dozens upon dozens, perhaps hundreds, of wine estates in and around the Western Cape. Now that’s a lot of grapes. Once a year, when the sun ever so slightly starts dropping behind the Atlantic a little earlier than usual in the evening, when the grapes are sitting pretty on the vines, the harvest happens.
Harvest is a special moment in time in Cape Town standards. Perhaps even worldly standards – because one day in the distant future some lucky soul (sitting on the other side of the world) is going to blow the cobwebs off a bottle of Cape Town’s finest 2014/2015 season Merlot. Closer to home, harvest season means grape-picking season which in turn means festival season. Basically an excuse to be festive about the season’s crop. Numerous harvest festivals take place at estates around the Cape Winelands around this time of year and one can expect a barrel (see what I did there) of family-friendly fun. Give thanks for the season’s yield by partaking in grape-stomping contests, browsing through food markets or getting behind the scenes on a cellar tour. These are but a few of the activities planned, and we have rounded up some of the most exciting, rip-roaring harvest festivals happening this season. Choose one, or perhaps attend many – but whatever you do, pair your glass of Harvest Riesling with a slice of cheesecake.
Grande Provence Harvest Festival
Morning coffee and freshly baked muffins set the tone for the day as the next activities involve a tractor ride into the vineyard to pick grapes, followed by wine tasting and a cellar tour. Before a lavish harvest buffet prepared by the estate’s executive Chef Darren Badenhorst, guests can partake in grape stomping.
Where Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate, Main Road, Franschhoek
When Saturday 28 February 2015 from 9 am
Cost R650 pp for adults, R350 for children under 12
Contact +27 21 876 8600, [email protected]
Weintaufe Harvest Celebration at Eikendal
Whether you are a seasoned wine buff, a casual quaffer or a family-fun seeker, the Eikendal Weintaufe is your ‘happy place’ to enjoy a chilled out day on the shaded lawns where families and friends indulge in pure countryside bliss overlooking the glistening dam. Other attractions include live music, tractor rides through the vineyards, golfing action at the water’s edge, cheetah viewing and lucky draws. The little ones will be kept busy with a jumping castle, jungle gym, face painting and tractor rides.
Where Eikendal Vineyeards, R44, Stellenbosch
When Sunday 1 March 2015 from 10 am
Cost R40 pp (includes glass and tasting from the barrel), children under 12 get in free
Contact +27 21 855 1422, [email protected]
Summer Wines Festival at Leopard’s Leap Vineyards
Although not strictly a Harvest Festival, the Summer Wines Festival is a great excuse to drink fine wine in season. Franschhoek winemakers will be showcasing their top white, rosé or MCC wines at this intimate event. Enjoy delicious food from the rotisserie kitchen, while you relax on the lawn or on the veranda to the sounds of local performers. Keep things cool – dress elegantly in white.
Where Leopard’s Leap Vineyards, R45 Main Rd, Franschhoek
When Saturday 7 February 2015 from 12 noon
Cost R120 pp (includes glass and tasting of all wines on show)
Contact +27 21 876 2861, [email protected]
Delheim Start of Harvest Celebration
The fun in the sun starts at noon, both days, when guests are welcomed with a glass of fermenting grape must and a sweet ‘mosbolletjie’, a traditional harvest treat, to toast the new vintage. Grapes harvested on the day will also be out for sampling, while young and old can get knee-deep in grape juice glee to get a real hands-on experience of winemaking. A long, buffet-style Harvest Table will entice families and friends in the lush picnic area where they can chill out on the grass at the river’s edge and enjoy delicious food to the sounds of a live band.
Where Delheim Wine Estate, Knorhoek Road, Stellenbosch
When Saturday 31 January and Sunday 1 February 2015 from 12 noon
Cost R285 pp for adults, R175 pp for children under 12
Contact +27 21 888 4600, [email protected]
Riesling and Rarities Rock Festival at Hartenberg Wine Estate
Celebrated Hartenberg winemaker Carl Shultz, regarded as one of the country’s finest Riesling masters, has invited the crème de la crème of cellars to showcase their premium Weisser/Rhine Rieslings at this fabulous food and wine celebration. Make the most of your day in the Winelands by sampling the delicious deli fare on offer, which includes Ghenwa’s Lebanese Food, Bread & Wine’s world famous charcuterie and breads, as well as Joostenberg’s pâtés and terrines. For a more relaxing offering, pre-order one of Hartenberg Wine Estate’s indulgent picnics, at R150 per person.
Where Hartenberg Wine Estate, Bottelary Road (M23), Stellenbosch
When Saturday 31 January 2015 from 12 noon
Cost R120 pp, children and teens under 18 enter free
Contact +27 21 865 2541, www.hartenbergestate.com