Lifestyle, Local, Travel

wagging tails and wine estates – pet-friendly getaways in the robertson valley

Affectionately known as the valley of wine and roses, picturesque Robertson Valley in the the Western Cape is home to a collection of celebrated wine estates, charming towns and breathtaking scenery. Because it's only a few hours’ drive from Cape Town, it's an ideal weekend destination that's orientated towards families of all kinds, with many guesthouses and self-catering accommodation that caters to pets, as do many of the wine farms – providing your dog is on a leash and respectful of the estate’s resident pups. Apart from the valley itself, the nearby towns of McGregor, Montagu, Ashton and Swellendam also offer guest stays that include furkids. One of these is Rose House in McGregor: a solid Georgian-style build owned by a couple that travel between the little town and their home in Great Britain. Featuring four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a large country kitchen with pantry and scullery, Rose House is ideal for larger groups looking to escape with dogs in tow. A rambling garden is securely gated from the road, although pets and kids alike would need to be aware of the pool as it isn’t fenced off. Best for evenings spent under McGregor’s star-strewn sky, the spacious veranda encompasses a long table – an essential for lengthy dinners spent sampling the area’s excellent wines. Indoors, a slow combustion fireplace keeps things toasty in the colder season and a stylish lounge and dining space lends Rose house a contemporary ambiance. Early mornings are the best time to discover the charismatic town on foot, meeting the friendly horses on Darling Street and a rather vocal terrier standing guard over Millstone Pottery.
Rose House

For those looking to explore the valley, both Excelsior and Springfield Estates welcome pets, although it is stressed that dogs need to be well behaved and on a leash, as both farms have dogs of their own. Excelsior’s Weimaraner is friendly to kids and dogs and their wine-bottling experience offers an afternoon of fun. Visitors get to blend and bottle their own red varietal, cork and label it, then enjoy it either at home or over lunch on the rolling green lawns in front of the estate’s restaurant. Springfield is home to both an exceptional array of wines as well as Felix the aged Anatolian shepherd, who values his rest and so can be rather grumpy if faced with an overly excited child – furry or otherwise. It's best to let sleeping dogs lie and while away an afternoon over the estate’s celebrated Life from Stone Sauvignon Blanc or Miss Lucy blend and their house-made olives.
Millstone Pottery

Excelsior

A short drive through the majestic Cogmanskloof Pass to Montagu will bring you to Galenia Estate, an olive farm on the slopes of the mountains. Offering 10 guest suites and a main house in the same contemporary Cape Dutch style, a pool and Jacuzzi, Galenia Estate has all the advantages of being close enough to the convenience of Montagu but still retains total privacy and relaxation for its guests. Dogs will love running through the olive groves, making the estate a getaway to be enjoyed by all. Further out towards Ashton lies the rambling residence of Jan Harmsgat Country House – a dog-friendly destination that is sure to appeal to even the most discerning travellers. Contributing an array of accommodation choices, each luxuriously furnished, Jan Harmsgat also offers epicurean delights at its award-winning Just Amy restaurant and its single-block wines can be tasted and purchased on the estate. Other noteworthy accommodation that caters to pets includes Assegai Rest Farm at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains in Klaasvoogds Valley, and Tierhoek Cottages on a working organic fruit farm in the Robertson Valley. Note that while all the accommodation listed in this article is pet-friendly, it is advisable to mention that you want to bring along your dogs, what their breed is, and any special needs when making a booking.