Dopping With Dionysus – A Look at South African Wine Festivals

Private Property South Africa
Shaun Wewege

Dionysus, mythological god of wine, seems to have cursed residents of Gauteng with a lack of wine growers. Fear not, many estates will soon travel north for a season of wine festivals.

Gauteng may not be fortunate enough to have wine farms but that does not mean we have to lament the lack of estates by drinking wine from boxes or foil packets. Some major wine events are set to take place that will help collectors and casual drinkers alike fill their wine racks and cellars.

Find a designated driver and head south for the annual Vaal Meander Wine Route. Estates from all quarters of the Cape will be setting up at the dozen venues around the Vaal Triangle, giving guests a chance to not only taste a variety of wines, but also enjoy unique experiences such lazy cruises on the river or being chauffeured between venues in vintage cars. Until 14th August, tasting sessions will be held on Saturdays and Sundays from 12h00 to 18h00. The cost per session at each venue is R20 and will ensure that you sample no fewer than 8 wines. There are a number of hotels, lodges and resorts on the banks of the Vaal River should you wish to make a weekend of it.

Another big event is the Robertson Valley Wine Festival which is to be held at Kloofzicht Lodge on the 17th and 18th of September, 2011. A number farms from this acclaimed wine-making region will set up stalls, allowing visitors to sample and buy a few of their favourite vintages. From chardonnay to organic wine, festival goers will have few problems finding their favourite varietals. There will be food stalls (a good idea if you are going to taste dozens of wines) but you could also treat yourself to a gourmet meal from the restaurant at Kloofzicht Lodge.

Another celebration to diarise is the Soweto Wine Festival. Now in its 7th year, the festival is arranged and hosted by the Cape Wine Academy and will run for three days at the University of Johannesburg Soweto Campus. You may feel that three days is too long for a festival, but with approximately 800 wines to taste, three days may not be enough! A number of South Africa’s foremost wine and food tutors will be in attendance and guiding visitors through tasting sessions. There is also a VIP Gold Lounge, presenting patrons with a chance to relax with a glass of something delicious while networking with potential business contacts. The Soweto Wine Festival runs from 1st to 3rd September. Entrance costs R100 per person per night or R280 for a three-night pass.

If you feel like a day out in the countryside, sampling wine and munching on everything from pancakes to boerewors rolls, visit the Cellar Rats Spring Festival. They have two features worth mentioning: collection points for anyone who would rather travel to and from the event by bus; and free festival entrance for designated drivers. This festival is a fairly relaxed one the whole family can enjoy – there is supervised entertainment for the kids (and tasting stalls for the adults). The festival takes place at The Old Mill in Magaliesberg on 3rd and 4th of September. Enjoy port and sherry on the Saturday and wine on the Sunday. If you are prone to Bacchanalian excess, book a stay at one of the many lodges or B&B’s in the Hartebeespoort region.

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