Early morning mist in the Bonnievale valley, near Robertson

This week, we have one story to tell. It has several chapters and they comprise so many different stories that we have held several of them over until next week. For many years, Robertson Wine Valley has been the country’s most active wine region, encouraging tourism and giving us, members of the media, stories to relate to you. Each year they hold seasonal festivals, Hands on Harvest, Robertson Slow, Wine on the River and this, the Wacky Wine Weekend. They are always very well organised by the Robertson Wine Valley management, with the rider that it is up to the individual farms to entertain their visitors to the best of their ability. Read on to see how well they did…

We hadn’t been to Robertson Wine Valley's Wacky Wine Weekend since 2011 and were very happy to be invited this year. Much smaller than in previous years; we were saddened to see how many of the smaller & larger farms no longer take part and wonder whether this is enough to sustain this winter festival…

Our hosted accommodation was at Tanagra Wine Farm near McGregor, which was taking part in the festival with its wines, grappa and Eau de Vie. We were warmly welcomed by the owners, Anette and Robert Rosenbach, and taken to The Garden Cottage where we were to stay, which was very comfortable and is perfect for self catering…

Our first port of call after checking in to Tanagra was Kranskop Wine estate in Klaasvoogds, near Robertson. We were warmly welcomed by owner/cellarmaster Newald Marais.  He invited us to stay at Kranskop in October last year, when we visited Robertson for the De Wetshof Chardonnay Celebration…

We asked to visit some of the newer wineries which we had not yet visited and ExDiem was one of them. It is in the beautiful Klaasvoogds valley behind Kranskop and produces olives, olive oil and some wines…

Our tasting at De Wetshof finished at 5.30 and we were only expected at Zandvliet at 6.30 for 7. It would take an hour to drive back and forth to our accommodation so we had time to waste. Most tasting centres would be closed, so we went to see how the river was flowing from the red iron bridge that crosses it, on the way to Bonnievale…

Up bright and early on a wet and cold morning, we rushed the 45 minutes from McGregor via Robertson to Bonnievale. We were reluctant to take the quick route through the mountains because we had been told it could be slippery on the dirt road, so we went the long way round…

Down the road from Weltevrede, through Bonnievale village and around the corner to Bonnievale Cellars which was nice and busy with people tasting the wines…

It is definitely winter in Cape Town this week. We have had some good rain and the temperature has dropped to single figures. So warming and nourishing soup is the order of the day.  This is one we love and it is very easy to make.  And it will do for a couple of meals for a small family…


MENU’s Wine of the Week is Tanagra Cabernet Franc 2015 

We were gifted this bottle when we stayed at Tanagra wine farm in McGregor during this year’s Wacky Wine Weekend. We took it home and had it with two meals, Pea, Lentil and Ham Hock Soup and a Lasagne that Lynne made.  It was superb with both and is a really versatile food wine. It does not dominate food, just compliments it.

Perfumed with cassis and cherry, it is fruity with soft tannins and great depth.  Black cherry and mulberry flavours entice with dark wood notes on the end. A very good wine with food. R140 a bottle on the farm, well priced for this quality. Made by Lourens van der Westhuizen from Tanagra’s grapes

We want to use wine barrel staves as the covering of a pergola which we wish to build on our deck, which has no protection from the sun. If any of our wine maker readers have old barrels which have outlived their original purpose, or even loose staves from old barrels, we’d love to have them. Condition is not important, we just need the staves. Please let us know


We keep talking about rain and the scarcity of water in our blessed, beautiful province. We are still in trouble. 2018 has seen the lowest rainfall of any year since 2010 and 2019 looks as though we're having even less. We measured a total of 477mm for 2018, which compares poorly with a "normal" annual average of 600mm

It is not difficult to be careful; just be aware of what you do with water and look after this precious resource. Don't leave the shower running while you soap, use grey water to flush, don't run the dishwasher until it is full..... We're in crisis. Think about it! Your garden may, like ours, become a desert. Sad, but necessary and a minor sacrifice in comparison to queueing at a hose for your daily 25 litre allowance. We are planting succulents and other water-wise plants which will tolerate the conditions and still give us pleasure

So don't think that it's OK if it's raining; the trouble is that it is not raining enough. The dams are only, on average, not sufficiently full. We need to try harder. It is no use hoping that more rain will come. If it does, it will be a blessing, but the long term forecast still does not encourage optimism. Tapping into aquifers and installing desalination plants will help in the long term, but we must face up to the fact that water will always be a scarce, precious commodity in the Western Cape. The world's weather is in trouble. Europe is experiencing temperatures that we are used to here in Africa. Vineyards are being planted in England. It might be normal in Spain, but when we hear stories from chilly Scotland and often icy Norway about temperatures in the 30s.....

14th June 2019

All verbal content and photographs used in this site are © John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor and Bacchus, unless otherwise specified

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