food

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Stellenbosch was recently named Wine Town of the Year by the venerable bunch at Munskänkarna, an exclusive wine club in Sweden.  With this feather in its cap, the local town kicks off with the the 10th anniversary celebration of its annual wine festival, between 28-31 July. In anticipation of this must-see event, we chatted to CEO of the Stellenbosch Wine Routes, Annareth Bolton, who reminded us that it's also the route's 40th anniversary this year. With all these reasons to be merry and over 500 different wines to swirl, make sure you head on over. What makes Stellenbosch deserving of the Swedish accolade, Wine Town of the Year? This is a truly wonderful honour and opportunity for Stellenbosch. South Africa currently holds 20,5% of the market share in the Swedish wine sector, making us the largest exporter to their country. We are a world leader in wine tourism, with annual awards bestowed upon our members. I really believe that my predecessors at this organisation have done a great job of promoting our excellent wines. Now our focus is on promoting all that surrounds the bottle of wine, in other words, the tourism offerings. We are picking the fruits of our hard work, and this recognition as one of the world’s greatest wine destinations is well deserved! What else does the town offer in attractions? Being the heart of the Cape Winelands, we are seen as the pioneers of wine tourism. The Cape Dutch architecture is a big draw card, while the modern tasting rooms and restaurants have inspired many visitors to come back time and again. If you only had one day in Stellenbosch, you could taste wine with a rugby legend, go on a game drive, enjoy lunch at a top 10 restaurant, try your hand at fly fishing, visit a wine museum and mingle with the locals. Take us back a bit - could you describe the history of the wine route? In 1971, when the wine route was formed, no tasting or purchasing was allowed at wine farms. There were no road signs or maps, let alone restaurants and guests houses on farms. This really was the start of wine tourism in South Africa, and many have followed suit. We now have hundreds of thousands of visitors, in what is a thriving industry which contributes to job creation, skills development and international recognition. When I started the Sundays in Stellenbosch campaign five years ago, only a handful of farms and restaurants were open. We now have over 65 farms open on a Sunday offering kids entertainment, informative wine tastings, hiking trails, picnics and world-class restaurants. Social responsibility is the order of the day, with creches for farm children, local employment, and a drive towards supporting local business. It really is a winning model for all. What would you recommend as an absolute must at the festival? It is a wonderful opportunity to taste up to 500 wines, all under one roof. Opening night, the wine connoisseurs evening, is where you can meet the winemakers in a relaxed and warm atmosphere. All the wines on show are available to purchase at special festival prices, in order for you to stock up your collection. Friday is our social evening, with live entertainment, food demonstrations and signature dishes from local restaurants participating in our Gourmet Lane. Saturday is our busiest day, while Sunday is family day, with a secure and fun environment for the kiddies, while mom and dad enjoy good company and music. We have shuttles from the V&A Waterfront, Canal Walk, Tygervalley, Paarl, Franschhoek and Somerset West, enabling all to arrive safely back home. We offer historical walks through town, fantastic accommodation specials, and the restaurants are all ready to welcome you with warm winter dishes and roaring fires. What's the latest in cellar gems, and will we find them at the festival ? Small producers participating for the first time in the festival include Bartinney Private Cellar, Le Riche Wines, Lyngrove and Romond Vineyards. All of their wines will be available to purchase in our on-site wine shop, at special festival prices. What else is new this year? We have created The Lounge, which will be open on Saturday, our busiest day. The Lounge will feature live music for the young at heart, complete with a wine bar. Which delicious meal and wine pairing do you enjoy most? Try Meraai’s Chicken Pie with Chenin Blanc, Tempura Prawns with Sauvignon Blanc, or pork belly with Merlot! Embracing the marriage of good food and wine, the Stellenbosch Wine Festival has teamed up with local restaurants to showcase and share their signature dishes with food and wine lovers – all under one roof in the Gourmet Lane. Tell us more about opening night? Thursday evening, 28 July, promises to be a real treat for wine lovers who want to escape the crowds, while enjoying the best that Stellenbosch has to offer. More than 500 wines will be available for tasting while guests have the wonderful opportunity to rub shoulders with entertaining winemakers such as Beyers Truter, Abrie Beeslaar, Kevin Arnold and Ntsiki Biyela. Indulge in supreme quality wines while taking pleasure in the conversation of true experts. The evening also marks the official opening of the 10th Stellenbosch Wine Festival. The Wine Connoisseurs evening starts at 4pm and ends at 9pm. What live entertainment can we get excited about? Delheim will kick off the Stellenbosch Wine Week on Friday, 22 July, with an evening of superb food, wine and entertainment in support of Stellenbosch Child Welfare. The highlight of the evening is a once-off performance of Ariel Ramirez’ oeuvre “Misa Criola” by the South African Youth Choir, led by Andre van der Merwe, featuring mezzo-soprano Minette du Toit-Pearce. At the festival itself, prepare to be entertained by Zamar as well as Sima and her band!   Festival tickets range from R120 per person per day if you book online via webtickets.co.za. Alternatively, pay R140 at the door, or R350 for the Golden Pass for access to the entire festival. Thursday's exclusive Wine Connoisseurs Evening costs R160 per person online and R180 at the door.  This includes welcome snacks and bubbly on arrival, as well as wine tastings. For more information on the Stellenbosch Wine Festival and preceding Wine Week visit wineroutes.co.za or call 021-886-4310.  

HL Win!

In celebration of the 10th annual Stellenbosch Wine Festival, HL is giving away two night's luxury accommodation at the four-star L'Avenir Country Lodge in the winelands, valued at R3,000. The prize includes a fabulous wine tasting for two on the estate, located just 5km from Stellenbosch. We think it's the perfect base from which to kick off your festival experience. Located at the foot of the Simonsberg mountains, it offers unsurpassed views of its vineyards. This sight is best to be enjoyed from the wooden decks of a stunning, individually decorated suite, complete with air-conditioning, underfloor heating, a bar fridge and more. Enjoy hospitality, gourmet meals and award-winning wines during your stay. Simply go to our Wins page, answer the easy question and cross your fingers...