Travelling along Route 62 you really do have to stop in Robertson, just to smell the roses and sample the local wines at the Wacky Wine Weekend from 6-9 June…
Words: Nancy Richard
Pictures: John- Clive
What started a few hundred years ago as a clutch of farms in a valley, edged by the Langeberg mountains and watered by the Breede River, officially became a town in 1853 named after Scottish Dutch Reformed Church minister Dr William Robertson. It has a proud past of wagon building, ostrich farming and agriculture, but these days the Robertson Wine Valley is more famous for its wine, roses and festivals. The pace in this peaceful town is lightly lingering, so be prepared to relax and enjoy. The helpful tourist info office is open over weekends till 14h00. 023 626 4437
Robertson has plenty of guest cottages, self-catering accommodation, farm stays, retreats, B&Bs and backpacker options. But treat yourself to a night at the Robertson Small Hotel and you won’t be sorry. The Victorian architecture and palm-fringed gardens typify the town’s style. Drawcards are luxury suites, a wellness centre and in particular, Reuben’s restaurant which is also open to non-residents for lunch and dinner. Award-winning Reuben Riffel isn’t always there, but he makes sure his stamp of delicious excellence is evident in all the breakfast, lunch and dinner fare.
023 626 7200
Smell the roses
The town’s gardens are neat as a pin and many streets are jacaranda or canna lined. Visit the Robertson Nursery and Garden Centre, which also has a coffee shop in Voortrekker Street (023 626 2584) or take a short drive out of town to the exotic Sheilam Cactus and Succulent Nursery, said to have one of the finest collections in the world.
023 626 4133
Or make a lunch or dinner date at the wine bistro Mo & Rose at Soekershof and you can stroll the meandering paths of their multi-species succulent garden, which attracts bevies of the region’s birds.
023 626 4134
Sip and savour
There are more than 50 wineries to choose from in the valley. Wine festival dates are: Wacky Wine Weekend 6 – 9 June, Robertson Slow 9 – 11 August, Wine on the River 18 – 20 October, Hands on Harvest 21 – 24 February.
Alternatively sample wares from the Klipdrift Brandy Distillery (023 626 3027) and the Saggy Stone microbrewery (083 453 3526). Try out all the regional homemade, home-grown products like cheeses, olives, dried fruit and more at the twice monthly Robertson Farmer’s Market.
023 626 4861
Sport and sailing
Take time out for a soul-soothing boat trip on the Breede and drink in the magnificence of the mountain surrounds. Pack a picnic, bag a bottle.
Viljoensdrift River Cruises (023 615 1017) or Breede River Goose (023 616 2723). There’s also hiking, biking, skydiving, kloofing, golfing, rock climbing, abseiling, horseriding, quad biking and zip slides in the area. Try the guided game drives or donkey cart and tractor rides.
Visit the website www.robertsonr62.com for details. At Arendsig you can do one-on-one vineyard tours with winemaker Lourens van der Westhuizen. 023 616 2835
Art and antiques
For lasting memories take home local artwork from one of the galleries. The Robertson Art Gallery in Voortrekker Road has a large and vibrant selection (023 626 5364). There’s also a delectably trendy coffee shop, Strictly Coffee, as well as the new On Voortrekker shopping centre. Or treat yourself to some real old-timer style at Van Tonder’s or Robertson Antique shops. And if you don’t invest, just enjoy the browse.