In my haste to help plan my honeymoon together with my now husband, yes! it’s been just over a month since we said ‘I do’! My head had been full of all of the outlandish ideas of travelling South Africa, maybe even abroad but weddings do cost quite a bit of money. This is when the thought occurred to me whilst sipping on a glass of Saboteur – Luddite “Aha! we’ll go wine tripping!” lucky for me my enthusiastic other half was happily on board with my plans and even planning a secret stay at the end of our blissfull week away.
Where did we go? We started our wine region road trip in Bot River with a stay at the breathtakingly beautiful and secluded Copia Eco Cabins some 7-8 km’s from the sleepy town, and toured some of the wineries in this spectacular region. We moved on to two other wine regions, Hemel-en-Aarde/Walker Bay and the exciting Swartland.
Because we saw and tasted quite a bit in those respective wine regions, I will be breaking it up into three parts per wine region. The name Bot River derives from the meaning ‘Butter River’, where the local Khoi tribe used to sell butter. With just an hours drive from Cape Town you get to feel like you’re in a different country, with small town charm and picture-perfect views. Perfect for a family getaway or a romantic honeymoon.
Copia Eco Cabins
Affordable, high in demand, incredibly beautiful and so serene, our stay at Copia certainly was the ideal breakaway that this city slicker needed. If you love looking after your car as much as we do, then beware of the gravel road with many bumps along the way to the cabin, either take the chance (like we did) or hire an off-roader if you can. I highly recommend booking a stay here but do it at least a good couple of months in advance it tends to fill up very quickly.
Copia provides you with firewood, firelighters, tasty rusks, sugar, coffee, and a few farm fresh eggs. With only one little mini market in the town selling only the basics, so do take a few goodies with you that you could cook on the braai (barbecue) or on the two plate gas stove in the fully equipped modern kitchen. There’s no TV and there’s absolutely no signal out there, perfect for a digital detox! I’d recommend bringing a few good books accompanied with your favourite wines to enjoy on the wood-clad balcony or in the luxurious hot tub overlooking the valley. Top tip: The hot tub is powered by a wood-fired stove, although there are instructions on how to fire it up, it does take a while to master the art of keeping the fire alive, so start a few hours in advance before you plan on soaking it up like a boss.
Try the Tapas for two that comes with a tasting of their Estate range of about 6 wines. The Tapas and the Rosebud Rosé was by far the highlight of our visit. The tapas board consisted of freshly baked flatbreads, the most fragrant dukkah ever, two types of hummus, the butternut one though! You’ll need a moment of silence for it, pulled pork tacos, and crispy salt and pepper squid, with every morsel and sip of wine, it’s clear that care and thought went into the making of not only the delicious bites of food but their wines too. Did you know? Gabriëlskloof produces their very own olive oil from groves on their farm, they are also renowned for their award-winning old-vine Chenin blanc, Elodie.
Just a short drive away from Gabriëlskloof we reach Wildekrans Wine Estate. The first thing I notice is the informative board about mountain leopards that roam freely in the nearby woods, just then I had heard a crunch of leaves, my heart starts pounding at the thought that it could be a leopard lurking close by but to my relief it was only a cyclist zooming past. Okay, enough excitement for one day! Here’s why you should visit: the tasting room is situated in the original Cellar building built in 1936, which has been restored to its former glory, the Barrel Select Pinotage which a cool climate Pinotage show elegant complexity with delicious juicy red fruits and dark plum with hints of leather and tobacco on the palate. All this wine tasting can work up a decent appetite, next to the tasting room is their popular restaurant Forage. Sadly the kitchen was closed when we arrived.
Hosted by none other than Winemaker Sebastian Beaumont himself. He had sent his staff off to Cape Town for a post-harvest celebration, which meant he was manning the tasting room. We started off with the white wines and worked our way to the reds, my favourite from the first flight is the 2018 Hope Marguerite Chardonnay. My hubby’s fave is the Beaumont Vitruvian red blend. Why the peculiar name? The key component of their 200 yr old water mill is known as a Vitruvian Mill. This is where the inspiration for the name came from. We were lucky enough that it was a quiet time of day in the little town of Bot River that I got to pick Sebastian’s brain about wine, South Africa Wine on the international stage and how we are actually in a league of our own in terms of what we have to offer as a new world wine region. He surprised us with a little memorabilia for our honeymoon, a 2000 vintage bottle of Beaumont Mourvedré! Certainly one of those keepsakes you get to look at but don’t open, given its age. Thank you Sebastian for the hospitality and great memory we will always have!
It was at The Shortmarket club that the sommelier had recommended a glass of Luddite Saboteur red blend to accompany the chargrilled lamb rack, and what a match made in heaven! Ever since I’ve been a Luddite fanatic. A year ago, we drove from Cape Town to Bot River just to have a tasting at Luddite and to my surprise the winemaker, Niels Verburg had hosted it himself around the long table with other wine enthusiasts alike. That day we went back home with boxes of our favourite varietals and vintages and a jar of apricot jam that Niels had suggested we absolutely must take home.
This time, having our Luddite wine stash back at home, we knew to make a stop as we headed out of the town to stock up on that delicious jam. Yes, it is just that good! The jam is made from apricots grown on the farm, and made on site too. I highly recommend you take a drive soon to see what i’m talking about.
Eat Out in Bot River
Manny’s Kitchen serves the best damn chicken prego roll and chips I have ever devoured in my 31 years of life! Over the train tracks and what looks like an old train station is The Shuntin’ Shed. The theme is American dinner meets South African bistro. They serve up a mean gourmet burger and their pizzas are pretty good too. Although we never made it out to this vibey spot, The Bot River Hotel has a lovely restaurant which proves to be quiet busy every day.
*These are my own views based on my experience thus this post is not sponsored. All accommodation, tastings etc was at our own expense. *