Go coun­try at McGre­gor fest

Winer­ies, restau­rants, delis and cater­ers aim to let it all hang out for the cognoscenti at a cel­e­bra­tion of the senses

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOOD TASTING - MYRNA ROBINS

HERE’S a fes­ti­val for those who like pot­ter­ing about a vil­lage hall, sam­pling the wares from bou­tique and garag­iste cel­lars and match­ing the wines to tan­ta­lis­ing tastes of coun­try fare.

The one-day McGre­gor Coun­try Tastes food and wine fes­ti­val is the most in­ti­mate and in­for mal of oc­ca­sions, where winer­ies, restau­rants, delis and cater­ers fill the church hall and ad­join­ing mar­quee in the cen­tre of this his­toric vil­lage.

The wines range from af­ford­able quaf­fers to top class, but never over­priced reds, whites, rosés and soetes. There will be about a dozen cel­lars and nearly dou­ble that num­ber of food stalls to visit on Satur­day, Au­gust 29 from mid-morn­ing.

The date is set to tempt vis­i­tors to make a week­end of it, with spring firmly es­tab­lished in the Breede River val­ley. Al­ready or­chards are dressed in pas­tel pink and paths through the Krans Na­ture Re­serve and along hik­ing trails are bright with patches of vy­gies in psy­che­delic hues.

Vis­i­tors will pass var­i­ous cel­lars en route to McGre­gor, start­ing with Won­der­fontein on the out­skirts of Robert­son, fol­lowed by Buite­hof and Kon­ingsriv­ier, all of which will take part in the fes­ti­val. Nearer the vil­lage is Tana­gra, where new own­ers Robert and Anette Rosen­bach are in­stalling a Ger­man still to make the val­ley’s first grappa. Mean­while they will be sell­ing ex­ist­ing stocks of wines at re­duced prices, both at the fes­ti­val and the farm be­fore and af­ter­wards.

Kingsriver Es­tate – not to con­fused with Kon­ingsriv­ier – will be pour­ing its 2007 shi­raz and ruby caber­net at its stand, while sug­gest­ing good food matches as well. Its pretty restau­rant at the far m’s guest­house will be tempt­ing week­end vis­i­tors with a four-course din­ner and se­lected wines.

McGre­gor garag­iste John Har­g­reaves will have his 2008 shi­raz – fea­tur­ing his faith­ful hound Rusty on the la­bel – for sam­pling; a lim­ited edi­tion has drawn rave re­views from those lucky enough to have tasted it.

Lord’s moun­tain win­ery, set among the fyn­bos in the hills above McGre­gor, will bring its 2008 chardon­nay, sport­ing sil­ver from the re­cent Old Mu­tual Tro­phy awards, along with the val­ley’s only pinot noir, vin­tage 2007.

Vrucht­baar, a small fam­ily cel­lar from Robert­son, joins the fes­ti­val cel­lars this year, and Fran­cois Bruwer will bring his ac­claimed ’05 cab, his easy-drink­ing Is­land red and his lim­ited edi­tion wooded chardon­nay ’08.

Along with the savoury and sweet treats on hand at the hall, both es­tab­lished and newly opened vil­lage eater­ies will of­fer fes­ti­val menus at palat­able prices.

Don’t leave the vil­lage without a bot­tle or two of ex­cel­lent and well­priced Voor den Berg olive oil, made on a farm deep in the kloof be­yond the vil­lage, and there are in­ter­est­ing lo­cal cheeses to try as well.

Two pairs of for­mer res­i­dents have re­tur ned to McGre­gor to widen din­ing choices. Frangipani is a de­light­ful laid back cof­fee shop that does home-cooked fare at pleas­ing prices, while Kurt and An­dre le Roux have opened Karoux restau­rant, pre­sent­ing an up­beat, con­tem­po­rary menu that is hit­ting the mark with many.

Along with eat­ing and drink­ing and hik­ing and bik­ing, vis­i­tors can savour other vil­lage at­trac­tions, such as the ex­tended fam­ily of don­keys await­ing ad­mi­ra­tion at the Eseltjies­rus Don­key Sanc­tu­ary (with charm­ing rus­tic restau­rant along­side), wel­com­ing art gal­leries, pot­tery, and more.

For more in­for­ma­tion and for ac­com­mo­da­tion (there are sev­eral week­end spe­cials), call McGre­gor Tourism at 023 625 1954, or e-mail info@touris­mm­c­gre­gor.co.za

As the 350th an­niver­sary of Cape wine in­dus­try draws to a close, cel­lars con­tinue to release la­bels or plant vines to mark the event. Winer­ies that boast a long his­tory have been in­spired, it seems, to un­cover fas­ci­nat­ing snip­pets and sto­ries that are be­ing aired on spe­cial edi­tion wines.

Wel­moed, a farm es­tab­lished in 1690, was in­her­ited by Ja­cobus van der Hey­den six years later, a for­mer mer­ce­nary who dared to con­front au­to­cratic gov­er­nor Willem Adri­aan van der Stel about his cor­rupt acts.

His brav­ery has in­spired a duo of blends: wine­maker Stephan Smit has com­bined cab, mer­lot, caber­net franc and a lit­tle petit ver­dot in Hey­den’s Courage red, a smooth medium-bod­ied food wine, while even more varietals make up the white.

The his­toric Meeren­dal es­tate in Dur­banville elected to fo­cus on pino­tage to mark the 350th an­niver­sary. As one of the first farms to plant this in­dige­nous cul­ti­var more than 50 years ago, their Her­itage Block pro­duces the grapes for their pres­ti­gious sin­gle vine­yard pino­tage. Last week a new vine­yard was planted along­side with 350 pino­tage vines, us­ing cut­tings from the her­itage vine­yard which was sourced from Pro­fes­sor Perold’s orig­i­nal stock. Vis­i­tors helped plant the vines in a cer­e­mony that was recorded on scrolls, and pino­tage fans can ex­pect the maiden vin­tage in 2012.

OLDE WORLDE: McGre­gor, in part, still a 19th cen­tury town­scape, is the scene of a fes­ti­val for those who like pot­ter­ing about a vil­lage hall sam­pling the wares from bou­tique and garag­iste cel­lars.

GLO­RI­OUS VISTA: Vines fringe the old road from McGre­gor to Robert­son.

ON THE WINE TRACK: Left, the start of the Klein­berg hik­ing trail with McGre­gor vil­lage in the dis­tance, and, right, Niel Colyn of Kon­ingsriv­ier Wines, who makes bold, full-throt­tle reds.

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