Locals in this mixed agricultural district show a high appreciation for all things good. One of many reasons is the superior quality of soil found in the Robertson Valley. As a top rated commodity among wine farmers and stud owners, this soil is of a high calcium content which eliminates the need to add lime. Farmland here which provides ideal soil for growing vines, as well as top quality grazing land necessary to build superior bone strength in thoroughbreds.
As a result, in addition to a long list of award winning wine farms, Robertson is also home to prestigious studs at wine farms such as the Highlands Studd at Graham Beck, and the Riverton Stud at Riverton Wine Farm.
However, some seventh generation residents of wine farming families say they are also proud to be members of a tight knit community. Newcomers speak of the welcoming hospitality extended by neighbours and the locals alike. They say water scarcity in the area has been a powerful reminder of how good old fashioned farming principles coming into play in times of need. Followed by their reputation to lend a helping hand, Robertson farmers are known to truck in water to needy areas, or parting with valued farm equipment to help locals in times of distress. One of many challenges faced by the local community was in 2008 when heavy rain caused the collapse of roads and bridges during severe floods in the area.
This mixed bunch of productive, yet humble farmers and land owners have for generations co-operated closely with labourers and industry to grow a strong business community. This is noted by new residents who say they stumbled upon Robertson while searching for new beginnings or simply while on holiday along the picturesque Breede River Valley. Some hail from city precincts of the greater Cape provincial regions, while others migrated from upcountry. Many a valuable city career has been exchanged for early retirement or life in the slow lane, where good public amenities and infrastructure serves the community.
Another common thread running through this picturesque wine and stud farming valley, is a sense of appreciation for aesthetics and quality. The Edwardian and Victorian architectural style seen in old town structures also reflects in elegant restorations of farm homesteads. Property buyers and guest house owners say some farm houses and out-buildings previously found in a state of disrepair, have been restored to reflect more accurately the elegance and history of bygone eras.
The Van Loveren Wine Estate, where the earliest beginnings of farming dates back to the 16th century. The old buildings and magnificent gardens filled with ancient trees show the successful incorporation of old and new. Living areas of many original homesteads now offer wine tastings and famous menus in modern surroundings.
The living area of the original homestead has become a modern day wine tasting room and eatery. A wall display in Christina’s Restaurant, where a hand written invitation to the first launch of the farm’s wine produce in 1980 was accompanied by a price list, shows the average bottle of wine cost R20 at the time.
However, state of the art tasting rooms and designer kitchens at upmarket wine farms create a powerful contrast against some of the quality materials and solid construction methods used in bygone eras.
New generation labourers of the same community who built these structures now contribute to a local economy which at times may suffer challenges brought by extended drought periods that only occurs in certain areas.