Walk Durbanville’s winelands
Cape Town - We must have looked a strange sight. Wearing colour coded hiking gear were Peninsula Ramblers members – one in shorts (he’s Swiss), another with one arm (no problem with drinking), a third with toothache and me getting over a cold. Leader of the “mad dogs” was Eddie the Englishman.
Durbanville is blessed with deep, rich, fertile soils, abundant water and a gentle climate. But not today. Despite predictions of storms and 100 percent possibility of rain, we would never have heard the end of it if we had cancelled this wine walk. Having walked with Eddie from Tygerberg Nature Reserve to enjoy wine-tasting and lunch at Altydgedacht Estate it hadn’t taken much arm twisting to get him to lead a walk in this area.
Driving towards Bloemendal were banners proclaiming the annual Soup, Sip and Bread winter festival. Apparently all 11 Durbanville Wine Valley farms participated in this tongue-in-cheek food and soup pairing. They were Groot Phesantekraal Farm (Phizante Kraal Wines), Klein Roosboom, Nitida, Meerendal, Hillcrest, Durbanville Hills, Diemersdal, De Grendel, D’Aria, Bloemendal and Altydgedacht.
Leaving Bloemendal we walked a short way before the heavens opened to batter us with hail. Eddie had timed the walk to stop at Hillcrest which opens for tasting at 9am. It was good that the restaurant was empty because it soon resembled a laundry with raincoats and ponchos hanging out to dry.
Wine-tasting was too early for some who ordered coffee and cappuccinos instead.
“The area is well-known for sauvignon blanc,” was music to my white wine ears as we sipped their Old Mutual Trophy 10th most successful cellar 2011 sauvignon. Fresh lime and passion fruit on the nose – it’s gorgeous! But the red wine drinkers were not disappointed when they heard the good news that merlot and shiraz are the second and third most planted cultivars in the valley.
When asked about hiking across the farm, marketing and sales manager Karlin van der Vyver said they had a mountain biking route but this would be dangerous for hikers
“People still come for walks – as long as they don’t go on the mountain biking trails,” she said.
Donning our rain gear we walked downhill to Klein Roosboom where we softly knocked on the cellar door because it wasn’t open yet. Winemaker Karin de Villiers warmly welcomed us.
Inviting us to explore their old cellar she explained the concrete vats were once used to store wine. Now, with walls glistening with crystals, they store bottles. And today one or two were laid out with platters of fresh veggies and cling-wrap covered dishes of meat and chicken. Despite staff having to prepare for a special fondue lunch they offered us wine-tasting while we watched chocolate cake, cheesecake and other mouth-watering goodies go past.
Their 2011 and 2012 Klein Roosboom sauvignon is good, but it was the almost sold out Bandana Blanc 2011, with its colourful, fun label designed by Frans Groenewald, that appealed to our palettes and pockets. Eddie also enjoyed the 2010 Merlot, the recipient of a silver medal in last year’s Michealangelo Wine Challenge.
Karin said hiking was not allowed because the Cape Hunt and Pigeon Club had been using the farm for the past 30 years and they did not want to see hikers and cyclists being shot by accident. Hikers do, however, walk in from the road to taste wines, and that is not a problem.
Having paid for our wine and arranged to collect it on the way home we set off uphill back the way we had come. By the time we crested the hill the weather had cleared and we stripped off wet-weather gear and took pictures of smiling faces glowing with sweat and sunshine.
But not for long.
As we neared Nitida Cellars with tummies rumbling there was a sudden reverse of undressing as a grey cloud emptied its load on us. At Nitida their soup was R60 a cup with a roll and with no wine-tasting. We decided to move on.
Back along the road we snuck through an open gateway to follow a muddy track through vineyards ablaze in winter colours – ochre, red, yellow and brown. Now this was more like it and we were happy despite hunger pangs and not knowing if we would reach our goal.
But we did and so we entered the warmth of Bon Amis, the modern all-white restaurant at Bloemendal. Not having made a booking we were happy to soak up the warmth of a fire as we tucked into their choice of five soups. Also on offer were boerewors rolls and beef burgers and chips.
Deciding to continue with the wine-tasting we went down the road to D’Aria where we arrived just in time to avoid another cloudburst.
Here it was a delicate balance of berries, tropical and exotic fruits in their 2013 Blush that tantalised tastebuds and emptied wallets. With the sun glimpsing through the trees we ran outside to soak up its warmth before setting off in our vehicles to collect the boxes we had purchased.
We could not believe our luck when Karin offered us cake and coffee at Klein Roosboom. A table of eight had not arrived and everyone else had finished their meal and was tucking into sherry and sweet wine. The cakes were delicious and we will certainly be back.
The only disappointment of our day was not being able to walk off-road from wine farm to wine farm. We all decided it would be good to have a wine trail, an opportunity not only for local people but also for the growing tourism market. With views over Durbanville to the east and Robben Island and Table Mountain to the west this is sure to become a must-do trail for tourists and locals.
l Durbanville Wine Valley is planning a night market for the end of July. It will be the first of its kind, with all 11 farms selling their wine per glass and bottle, live entertainment and food stalls.
l Seasons of Sauvignon takes place on the weekend of October 5 and 6, and is a highlight on their calendar.
l Watkins is the author of Adventure Hikes In The Cape Peninsula and “Off The Beaten Track. - Cape Times