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Bot River Tackles Bull by Horns for Charity

Demand soared to R175 000 at the 2018 ‘Best of Bot’ charity auction. A mob of beastly bearded Bot River winemakers grabbed the proverbial bull by the horns when its annual Barrels & Beards showcase took centre stage in the Overberg wine hamlet, all in aid of charity.

This year the social shindig went down at Wildekrans Wine Estate, where they paid tribute to the bull in the Bot River Wine Route logo and incorporated the Taurean theme in every aspect of the preparations. The whole shebang was an invitation to a cool crowd to let their hair down; celebrate the end of the grape harvest with local winemakers in one festive location; feast on local fare and stellar wines, and do some good in the process.

Each year the Bot River Barrels & Beards, fuelled by an energetic spirit of originality, promote the small region’s outstanding wine and maverick character and puts the stubble that accumulates on winemaker’s chins during harvest to good use. The 2018 event topped its predecessors with increased sponsorship from premier wine closure company Amorim Cork.

Activities centred around three highlights: the winemakers’ hilarious Harvest Beard Parade, which included popular drive-time radio host John Maytham and former supermodel Josie Borain among the panel of dour and determined judges in search of the Best Bot Beard; the so-called “Cut the Bull” Primal Feast of fresh and fabulous local produce; and, the charity fundraiser Best of Bot Auction.

“Of course there was no actual el-toro running in the Pamplonic sense nor were any bulls harmed during our Baard-Paartie, we only had good, ahem clean fun,” chuckles Melissa Nelsen, the bubbly personality behind Genevieve MCC.

The ‘clean’ bit only came after the Best Bot Beard was crowned – an annual contest of great inconsequence and almighty mirth when the winemakers’ self-imposed shaving ban during harvest finally ends for the feast to set in. This year’s winner was Kobie Viljoen of Villion Wines who flaunted his infuriating mutton chops in Fa-bull-ous fashion.

“Along with the well-cultivated facial hair, this year’s line-up had everything – stand-up comedy, fancy-dress, introspective drama and, as usual, some energetic musical showmanship. Each act brought an element of inspired originality, so it was difficult to select one. But at the end of the day, Kobie Viljoen’s natty dress and fleet-footed dance-moves stole the show. He was a worthy winner of the first Amorim Cork Bull Trophy, designed by Laurie Wiid of Wiid Design for Barrels & Beards. He looked so proud holding that trophy I am sure he is not going to give the title away easily next year,” says Amorim Cork MD and Barrels & Beards sponsor Joaquim Sá

“Botriver Barrels and Beards was another tremendous success this year and remains one of the most spirited and unique events in the Cape Winelands. Besides the entertainment and the chance to experience the region’s brilliant wines, the money raised for charity makes it an annual occasion Amorim is proud to be associated with.”

The true heart of this hairy affair really centres around the Best of Bot Auction which presents guests the opportunity to nod, wink and wave their way to a slice of Bot River heaven and experience the little town and its gees (spirit) beyond the event itself. This year’s lots incorporated wine tastings of a privileged kind: with owners and winemakers themselves; delicious and extravagant meals, and idyllic sleep-overs.

Some of the desirable items that went under the hammer included a Platter’s five-star wine and one of only six ever produced: a 5-litre bottle of Beaumont Wines Hope Marguerite 2016. The chance to be “wined and dined” by Luddite Wines’ incomparable winemaker Niels Verburg – in his Blue Bulls Barrels & Beards outfit nogal!. And a whole Overberg lamb from none other than 2016 Western Cape Farmer of the Year Josias le Roux, of the local Langhoogte farm.

The auction supports various school-level educational projects in the region and this year a whopping R175 000 was raised to benefit the Bot River Education Foundation (BEF) in assisting promising local high school students to gain entry to university.

The evening ended with an awe-inspiring Nose to Tail dinner by Wildekrans’ forage fundi and chef, Greg Henderson, who is known for roaming the local pastures to offer guests an indigenous dining experience. His products are foraged and sourced from local artisans and farmers within a 100km radius of the restaurant and culinary highlights of the evening included Cape Malay curried tripe; Milk Stout braised oxtail; coffee-blackened sirloin; fynbos boerewors, putu-pap poppers and beef lard hassle-back potatoes. The ice cream bar with beef tallow ice creams also went down a (sweet) treat.

The 2018 Bot River Barrels & Beards featured an all-star cast from: Anysbos, goat farmers with a weakness for wine; Arcangeli, a wine producer with a wild Italian heart; Barton, whose Blue Crane logo reflects its eco-farm approach; Beaumont Family Wines, home to the region’s oldest wine cellar; Eerste Hoop; Gabriëlskloof, the courtyard on a koppie; Genevieve MCC, a uniquely Bot River bubbly; Goedvertrouw Wine Estate, the intimate gem of energetic, teetotaller winemaker Elrida Pillmann; Luddite Wines, champion for dry-land farming; Maremmana Estate, a blend of great wine and an idyllic farm lifestyle; Momento; Paardenkloof Estate, the single vineyard-single variety winery; Rivendell Estate, a blend of Austrian and South African wine tradition; Thorne & Daughters, simple wines with a modern edge; and, Villion Family Wines, a wine producer “tempting fate with faith”.

For more information on the Bot River Wine Route and its unique characters visit www.botriverwines.com or follow them on social media @BotRiverWines.

Did you know: Amongst the Khoisan people, the Bot River valley was once called Gouga – the place of cattle; the Dutch made the connection to butter, which led to its modern name. In this sense, the bull represents fertility, virility, leadership and strength. More importantly, it connects the history of all inhabitants of the region for possibly over 1 000 years; a symbol of the meeting of diverse cultures; and, the sense of place offered in every glass of Bot River wine wherever it may be enjoyed around the world.