Words by Julienne du Toit
In Graaff-Reinet, the last weekend in May is dedicated to the Stoep-Tasting Festival. Top wine-makers bring their delicious produce to the verandas of this gracious Karoo town. Locals and visitors and vinophiles all mingle to taste and discuss the merits of cinsauts, pinots, chenins and tinta barocca.
Here are 12 tips for maximum enjoyment.
- Your ‘ticket’ is a handsome little tasting glass in a nifty locally-made cloth pouch that hangs comfortably around the neck and a map that shows you where to go. Don’t lose it.
- Embrace the relaxed tempo of Karoo life. The Stoep-Tasting happens over two days and there is absolutely no need to rush.
- On the other hand, don’t get stuck on one stoep with only one wine estate you adore. There are many others to experience.
- Leave your vehicle and ramble from stoep to stoep. You’ll have that all-important map, and the streets of Graaff-Reinet are quiet and pleasant. If you’re purchasing crates of wine, rather bring the vehicle around the next day to pick them up.
- Bring friends. This is a very gesellige festival and there is nothing more enjoyable than drifting along the streets with a small crowd of mates. On the other hand, this is also a great place to meet new friends with common interests and taste in wine.
- Book early with Rose Wright on [email protected]. The tickets sell out fast.
- Book accommodation early too, via graaffreinet.co.za.
- Don’t forget the other attractions of Graaff-Reinet – there are great museums, the spectacular Valley of Desolation, excellent places to buy mohair and wool, and some really good restaurants.
- Book with Rose for the Taste of the Karoo lamb spit-braai by Veld to Fork chef Gordon Wright on Saturday night. As a plus, you’ll also be able to mingle with the wine-makers.
- There’s a small Farmer’s Market on Sunday morning and you can pre-order Karoo farm lamb to take home with you via Rose on [email protected].
- Don’t forget that one of the stoeps is offering a rather decadent mix of oysters and bubbly, masterminded by father and son team of Ross Baker (Wild Peacock) and Andrew Baker from Wine Worx.
- Some of the vineyards you can expect to find are: Natte Valleij, Peter Bayly, Paul Wallace, Highlands Road, Leopards Leap, Welbedacht, Antonij Rupert, Fledge & Co, Boplaas, Cederberg, Herold, Springfield, De Meye and Hillock Wines.