This story was updated on 3 October 2019.
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…
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 on weekdays until 5pm and Saturdays until 1pm.
+27 (0) 23 626 4437; [email protected]
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, The Small Restaurant which is also open to non-residents for lunch and dinner. With the likes of chef Chris Erasmus of Foliage in Franschhoek brought on to train the team of chefs and a menu written by Rose Ashby of Spring Restaurant at Somerset House in London, your breakfast, lunch and dinner are in good hands.
+27 (0) 23 626 7200; [email protected]
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 (+27 (0) 23 626 2584) or take a short drive out of town to the exotic Sheilam Cactus and Succulent Nursery (+27 (0) 23 626 4133), said to have one of the finest collections in the world.
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.
Sip and Savour
There are more than 50 wineries to choose from in the valley. Don’t miss the multiple wine festivals throughout the year like the Wacky Wine Weekend (usually in June), Robertson Slow Food and Wine Festival (keep an eye out in August), Wine on the River (11 to 13 October 2019) and the Hands-on-Harvest Festival (usually around late February, early March).
Alternatively, sample wares from the Klipdrift Brandy Distillery and the Saggy Stone microbrewery (+27 (0) 83 453 3526). Try out all the regional homemade, home-grown products like cheeses, olives, dried fruit and more at the twice-monthly Robertson Farmers’ Market.
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 or Breede River Goose (+27 (0) 82 759 5727). 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. At Arendsig Single Vineyard Wines you can do one-on-one vineyard tours with winemaker Lourens van der Westhuizen, but booking is essential (+27 (0) 23 616 2835).
Visit the website robertsonr62.com for details.
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 (+27 (0) 23 626 5364). There’s also a delectably trendy coffee shop, Strictly Coffee, as well as the On Voortrekker shopping centre. Or treat yourself to some real old-timer style at Van Tonder Antiques or Robertson Antiques (+27 (0) 23 626 6843). And if you don’t invest, just enjoy the browse.
Words Nancy Richard
Photography John- Clive