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CAPE ROUTE 62 IN THE PRESS

Welcome to the Breede River Valley

2010-02-22

During November 2009 I got an email from the Cape Winelands District Municipality, inviting me to join them on a trip to the Breede Valley.  After the meet and greet session at the municipality a bunch of journalists jumped into a Hylton Ross bus and off we go to the Breedekloof.

Our first stop was at Slanghoek Cellar.  The manager of Breedekloof Wine, Melody Botha, met us there and introduced us to her pride and joy, the Breedekloof Wine Route. 

Slanghoek Cellar, situated in the Slanghoek Valley, is a co-op with 25 members.  We met with the winemakers, learned a bit of the history and received a measuring cylinder, loads of paper towels, tasting glasses and three wines:  Merlot, Pinotage and Cabernet.  Let the fun begin.  We had to blend our own wine.  We tasted each others wines, tried the process several times and finally each one came up with a personal award winning blend.  After blending our wines we bottled it, put a cork in each bottle and labeled it with a personal name.  If you are looking for something different than just the usual wine tasting, visit Slanghoek for a blending session. 

Back on the bus with our own blends to our next stop – Jason’s Hill Private Cellar.  Jason’s Hill is a family business and owned by the Du Toit family for 5 generations.  Winemaker Ivy du Toit had won the Woman Winemaker of the Year competition in 2004.  When ever you need to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city life, drive out to this estate.  You will find a 6.5 km hiking trail and health and wellness spa.  You can have lunch at the Bistro and the kids have their own dining room!  There is a little shop on the premises where you can buy sweets, bath salt and gifts to take home.  Take a seat on the balcony and take in the magnificent views of the valley!

After a morning full of excitement and breathtaking views we were off to Opstal Estate for lunch.  We were welcomed with a refreshing glass of Opstal Sparkling Wine.   After ordering our lunch, Attie Louw, Marketing Manager, presented the Opstal Wine Range to us.  We tried almost everything; my favourite was the Opstal Hanepoot 2008.  Drink it together with crushed ice and a slice of lemon.  Current owner, Stanley Louw, is the sixth generation owner and vintner on the estate.  While you are waiting for you lunch order, enjoy the magnificent views of the vineyards with the Slanghoek Mountain as backdrop, what a beautiful picture.  I have been at Opstal several times before and one thing that is always the same, each and every person at Opstal makes you feel at home!

Next stop, Hex River Valley.  Have you ever wondered why the name Hex Valley?

THE LEGEND OF THE HEX OF THE HEX RIVER VALLEY is a story about the beautiful Eliza Meiring, who was courted by many suitors. She eventually promised to marry the one that would pick her a disa flower from the surrounding Hex River Mountains. The admirer who captured her heart met a tragic death when he lost his footing whilst picking the flower and fell. Completely out of her mind with grief, Eliza spent a long, lonely period in the attic of the farm, Clovelly. One fateful moonlit night she jumped to her death through the attic window. The "witch" of the Hex River Valley still mourns for her long-lost love, especially when the moon lights up the mountains.

Melanie from the De Doorns winehouse welcomed us with a unique “Hex Brew” cocktail.  Melanie is the manager of Tourism in the De Doorns area and very passionate about her work and region.  She took us to visit the Mooigezicht Estate.  This estate is one of the largest producers of red seedless grapes in South Africa with 275 hectares of vineyard in the Hex River Valley.  This is a family business and during 1928 Fanie Rossouw bought his first farm in the Hex River Valley.  He distributed fruit into Africa, marketing his own table grapes as well as other fruit varieties as far as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Today the produce an estimate of 1.2 million cartons annually and the production period is usually 18 weeks. 

From the Table Grape Estate to the Goats Milk farm.  At La Rochelle we met the cheese maker, Estalanie Marais.  She showed us her pride and joy, the goats and took us on a tour through the dairy.  The goats are milked twice a day in a very clean and sterile dairy.  Some of the cheeses that are made on the farm are Dowry, Halloumi, Gouda. Roche and Feta.  We also did a cheese and milk tasting and I must admit that goats’ milk is not for me.

Back on the bus and ready for our next visit and what a nice surprise!  If you ever need to relax, sit on a stoep with a nice cup of coffee or just need to hear silence around you, make sure you visit Inspiratie.  This lovely shop is situated amongst the vineyards in the shade of old oak trees.  It is filled with beautiful things, from vintage junk to handmade tea cosies.  I bought a vintage flask for my mom, delicious shortbread cookies for my gran and sweets for my dad.   We ordered some coffee, sat in the shade and enjoyed the peacefulness.  The owners, Maryke en Hildegard inspires you with all their ideas, the lovely décor and their friendliness.  If you are ever in the De Doorns area, make sure you do not miss Inspirati!

Our first day is almost over, now we need to check in at the Guesthouse and then dinner.

We spend the night at Reeds Country Lodge, less than 90 minutes from Cape Town.  At Reeds you get the self catering or bed and breakfast option.  The units are fully equipped, clean and very comfortable.   Breath in the fresh air, watch the ducklings on the pond and the chickens looking for a worm or bug to eat.  You can stay at Reeds for a whole weekend, the have a big pool where you can cool down and they are only 15 minutes from town. 

By dinner time we were a bit tired.  Being busy the entire day and not want to miss a second, we were looking forward to the relaxing dinner at Damas Restaurant and Guest House.  Damas is situated only 5 minutes from Worcester at the foot of the Brandwag Mountains.  They cater for weddings, conferences and other functions such as live entertainment evenings.  When we arrived at Damas we met Anzel Muller from Worcester Tourism.  She is newly appointed at the Tourism Office and very excited about her new journey.  After a very delicious meal at Damas were on back on the bus to Reeds Country Lodge for a good nights rest.

At more or less 4:00 am the rooster crowed to remind us that we are now in country side!  Reeds served a scrumptious breakfast and we were on the go again.

On our second day we explored the Nuy Valley. 

Willow Creek Estate has been in the Rabie family since the late 1700s.  The first olive trees were planted in 1999 and the fist oil were pressed in 2002.  Willow Creek is one of the largest estate olive oil producers in the Southern Hemisphere with 173 000 olive trees.  We tasted everything; from the olives to the tapenade.  The packaging is very attractive and we made sure that someone in our families got something from Willow Creek under the Christmas tree.

Anzel took us to Conradie Family Vineyards.  The winemaker, CP Conradie welcomed us and invited us to a wine tasting in his cellar.  The farm has been in the family since 1871.  CP, together with his sister Elsabé is the winemaking team at Conradie Family Vineyards.  They are the fifth generation winemakers on the farm and are passionate about the wine and vineyards. This winery received numerous awards for their wines.  One of the awards was the SA CHAMPION CABERNET SAUVIGNON at the Young Wine Show.  The cellar’s fame and uniqueness lies in the producing of small quantities of wine and can be associated with the name “Private cellar” found on its label, thus keeping it as exclusive as possible.

We ended the two days with a lunch at Kokerboom Restaurant and a game drive at Fairy Glen.

Our bus driver, Danie, from Hylton Ross was a great sport.  Make you sure you ask for him if you need Hylton Ross to take you on a trip to the Breede Valley.  Friendly people, breathtaking views, delicious food and great wine, that is what you can expect when you visit the Breede Valley area.

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