Land of plenty

Land of plenty

With an intoxicating blend of scenery, vino and gourmet treats, it’s no surprise the Winelands offer festivals galore to keep us entertained throughout the year. Here are some of the best to whet your appetite. By Lisa van Aswegen

South African Cheese Festival
Stellenbosch, 30 April – 2 May
The big cheese of festivals … lactose-intolerants beware! Sample your way through everything from imported Dutch and French cheeses to artisanal local products. Demos by famous chefs, helpful cooking tips and stalls selling kitchenware are all part of the package. Once you’re cheesed out, head to the outdoor area where live music and a host of restaurant stalls will keep you entertained for the rest of the day. Tip: take along a cooler box to store all those delicious cheeses you bought to take home.


Riebeek Valley Olive Festival
Riebeek Valley, 7–8 May
The picturesque Riebeek Valley plays host to this festival celebrating the humble olive. You’ll find everything and more produced from it, from oils and soaps to creams and preserves. Wine and olive oil tastings from local farms will serve as the starters for delicious fare on show at the estates and at the market in Riebeek-Kasteel. Kids are well catered for with entertainment galore and the valley’s proximity to Cape Town makes for a perfect weekend away.


Calitzdorp Winter Festival
Calitzdorp, 16–19 June
The Calitzdorp Winter Festival celebrates its most famous product, namely divine Port-style wine. Visitors can enjoy tastings in the cellars, not only of Port, but also of other varietals produced in the region. The pleasant winter days in the heart of the Klein-Karoo are perfect for enjoying great food and wine pairings, as well as exploring the surrounding areas.


Winelands Chocolate Festival
Stellenbosch, 20–21 August
Blaauwklippen Estate will play host to the second Winelands Chocolate Festival, after a successful first event last year. Expect everything from patisserie demos to confectionery displays and artisanal chocolate tastings … and 2015 even saw a chocolate-inspired fashion show! Along with sweet items to taste and buy, there will be plenty of spots selling delicious savoury snacks as well as teas, coffees and cocktails.


Fork & Cork Wellington Wine Festival
Wellington, September
With wine theatres boasting the best blends, from Pinotages to Chenins, it’s clear this Winelands town takes its vino seriously. Swing rock, blues and jazz creates a buzzing atmosphere, while festival-goers can enjoy home-cooked fare and shop for enough jams, cheeses, pies, sweet treats and olive products to fill a pantry.


Spier Secret Festival
Stellenbosch, October
One of the most cutting edge food-related events around, the Spier Secret Festival offers visitors a market with local and seasonal fare, pop-up food experiences and dinners hosted by famous local chefs, stylists and foodies. The conference adds serious cred with speakers from South Africa and abroad sharing their food journeys, with a focus on issues of seasonality and sustainability, as well as innovation.



These festivals are so big and popular that they take place in several cities during the year. So there’s no excuse to miss out!

Taste of Cape Town & Taste of Joburg
Cape Town 7–10 April
Joburg 29 September – 2 October
Easy to navigate using ‘crowns’ as currency, the annual Taste festivals keep growing in popularity. Sample your way through the stalls, where you will find top restaurants serving bite-sized morsels of their signature dishes; local producers offering olives, cheese, sweet treats and more. Wash them down with craft beer, cocktails and wine, while various lounge spaces and demo tents add to the appeal.

Good Food & Wine Show
Cape Town 27–29 May
Joburg 29–31 July
Durban 28–30 October
The biggest food event of them all, the Good Food & Wine show, will have every cooking-channel fan, amateur chef and fanatical foodie salivating. Taste a vast array of produce as well as wines from all around SA; revel in live demos and shop for every bit of kitchen equipment your heart desires. The big drawcard is high-profile local and international chefs showing off their skills. Previous guests to grace the stage included Buddy ‘Cake Boss’ Valastro, Pete Goffe-Wood, Adriano Zumbo, Siba Mtongana and Rick Stein. Watch the press for 2016’s line-up.


A taste of things to come

The charming town of Robertson, on the banks of the Breede River, along with the historical and glitzy Franschhoek, each boast at least three food and wine festivals for the rest of the year!


kykNET Wacky Wine Weekend
2–5 June
The most fun you’ll have all year… The Wacky Wine Weekend is synonymous with a party spirit, enjoying the fruits of the vine and loads of activities. Each wine estate offers something different, be it live music, cellar dinners, sunset vineyard tours, vertical tastings, mountain biking, fancy dress evenings or trail runs. Not to mention vast quantities of delectable eats (something to soak up all that wine). Best of all is their reliable buddy bus system and designated drivers programme, which will ensure responsible festival enjoyment.

Robertson Slow
5–7 August
Meander through the Robertson Valley and pop in at various wine farms, each of which offers a special festival experience. Whether it’s tastings with the winemaker, family dinners, blending your own wine, cooking up a storm or going on 44 trips
to see fynbos, there are many activities filled with fun – slow-style! The weekend culminates in a farmers’ market, where you can catch up with all the new friends you’ve made and purchase produce to take home.

Wine on the River
14–16 October
Spend a spring weekend relaxing on the banks of the majestic Breede River. Set on one of the riverside farms, visitors can enjoy a vast range of tastings from local wineries, as well as fresh produce and delicious fare. It wouldn’t be complete without boat trips and live music, while the kids’ entertainment and activity area will keep little ones occupied, and leave mom and dad free to relax.



Bastille Festival
Mid July
It’s vive la France! all the way, in the home of the Huguenots. The main hub of the event is the Huguenot Monument, where you can do wine tastings, enjoy gourmet food and have the kids kept busy. Aside from all the local vintages and French-inspired fare, there’ll be loads of fun and games to get you into the revolutionary spirit: think barrel-rolling competitions, a boule tournament and live entertainment.

Franschhoek Uncorked
End September
This festival sees local wineries creating special experiences over the course of a weekend. Previous years have included braais, potjies and jungle gyms at Allée Bleue; oyster and MCC pairing, as well as dinner and entertainment at the Protea Party at Anthonij Rupert Wines; cake and wine pairing at Black Elephant Vintners; live music and delicious gourmet fare at Boschendal and the Wacky Golf Day at Dieu Donné Vineyards.

Franschhoek Cap Classique & Champagne Festival – The Magic of Bubbles
Welcome to any bubbly lover’s dream. At this stylish festival, visitors can enjoy French Champagnes as well as award-winning local MCCs. And what would bubbly be without delicious eats to end it off? Expect oysters and gourmet fare from Franschhoek’s top restaurants, and home-made chocolates. The cherry on top of an indulgent weekend is a prize for the best-dressed couple and 2015 saw a workshop by fashion guru Jackie Burger.


Note: some festivals have not confirmed dates for 2016 yet. We have given the month that the festival usually takes place. Visit the websites
closer to the time for more information.

Photography: Gallo/GettyImages, Hoberman Collection,, Greatstock/StockFood
April/May 2016

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