Steeped in history, vibrant Stellenbosch offers so much more than just quality wines. This September, the City of Oaks will celebrate an entire Heritage Month of taste and traditions unique to this quaint town, with a rich tapestry of old and new attractions waiting to be explored.
“One cannot get away from the fact that we were the first wine route in the country and that we are still leading the way in so many facets. With our enviable wine lifestyle also comes an incredible, multi-layered history and charming, yet contemporary culture weaved throughout our forever young town, and that is what we want to bring to life during the month of September,” shares Annareth Bolton, CEO of the Stellenbosch Wine Routes.
As part of the duo’s wine tourism marketing campaign, Stellenbosch Experience, the wine route and Stellenbosch 360, the dynamic tourism outfit of the town, have come up with a treasure chest of ‘local is lekker’ activities for young and old to enjoy this September.
Highlights on their heritage menu for 24 September include numerous Braai Day get-togethers that will add a tantalising twist to the ultimate South African pastime. Fires will be lit at Delheim Estate for a traditional snoek braai; a Bring & Braai party will attract a merry crowd at Hazendal Estate, whilst Hidden Valley have teamed up with renowned chef Bertus Basson for a 2014 Gourmet Braai & Wine Festival with smoking hot events on the 22nd and 24th.
Bodega restaurant at Dornier Estate will serve up a special Braai Day bill of fare, sizzling with an upscale version of the traditional barbeque and the iconic Lanzerac Hotel & Spa goes all out this year with a royal Heritage Banquet with a buffet lunch to complement their heritage wines.
Asara Estate will host a Pure Food Braai Market with producers sharing tips and tricks on how to make your braai all the more enjoyable and live music and kiddies’ entertainment adding to a fabulous day out with the family. Also do not forget about Middelvlei’s popular Boerebraai’s on offer, seven days a week, where homemade potbrood, ‘braaibroodjies’ and Ouma Annie’s pumpkin fritters put the Momberg Family in a league of their own.
Those in search for some cultural engagement and enlightenment can set foot on one of Bites and Sites’s inspirational township walks through Kayamandi, complete with an authentic Xhosa lunch prepared by the ‘mammas’ who will welcome you into their homes and hearts. Their Foodies on Foot tours are also popular, so why not spice things up in September and get your friends to join you for a Cape Malay Cooking adventure and learn more about the traditions of the Cape Muslim community.
Craving more of that ubuntu spirit? Then head down to the Stellenbosch e’Bosch Heritage Festival in the famous Die Laan on the Eerste River on the 24th. Various communities from neighbouring ‘dorpies’ will bring an eclectic mix to a buzzing festival site, which stretches from the historic Ou Landbousaal to Coetzenburg Bridge. This include stalls of authentic Stellenbosch products and food; a beer and wine tent, braai sites, captivating art exhibitions and live music by local talent from the various communities including well-known and loved musician, Valiant Swart.
Other festival attractions for the more adventurous include the Spier Eerste River Challenge, an elite paddling contest, which finishes 11km downstream at the Spier Wine Estate as well as the highly popular Eerste Tube Race, which finishes just below the festival site.
“This festival is the perfect hotspot to meet and mingle with the genuine people and authentic offerings that make Stellenbosch such a real and memorable destination. We love how the festival builds bridges and brings the different communities of the ten dorpies in Stellenbosch together and we are proud to be involved with it,” shares Annemarie Ferns, CEO of Stellenbosch 360.
To end your Heritage Month on a high, the wine route is hosting their inaugural Savour Stellenbosch Valley experience at Neethlingshof’s Manor House on 27 September, World Tourism Day, for a celebration of cultural diversity and the area’s rich and varied narratives. This is in keeping with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) theme for this year’s World Tourism Day, Tourism and Community Development.
The Stellenbosch Valley sub-route is home to a myriad of wine estates, hotels and restaurants and participants such as Middelvlei, The House of JC Le Roux, Van Ryn’s Brandy Distillery, Fleur du Cap and Neethlingshof will add their own unique flair and tastes to the evening. Each of the wine farms will offer up to five wines for tasting, whilst celebrated chefs will lend gourmet glee with their signature sweet and savoury indulgences. Tickets are limited and cost R300 per head, including all the wine tastings and food.
Other sans wine tourism attractions to explore during the month of September include a visit to Spier Estate, their Gables Audio Walk, a fictional account of the reality of life on a Cape wine farm in the early part of the 19th century.
One simply hires a headset and an audio device and is guided to various points where the story unfolds, narrated by Sannie de Goede, the ghost of a fictional slave on the eve of her freedom. The estate also offers a Heritage Walk through fynbos beauty and lures guests with a captivating 42.6 sqm outdoor mosaic sculpture, The Dying Slave, conceived by Marco Cianfanelli and created by the Spier Architectural Arts.
A stopover at the Van Ryn Distillery to watch skilled craftsmen practice a dying art, making up barrels of French oak at the on-site cooperage, also makes for a riveting, Proudly South African encounter.
And if you are into art, make a date with Tokara on the 11th September for their Wine Made Art event. It will see forty-five students from the Marié Stander School of Art literally transform wine into art when they dip their paintbrushes in 2011 TOKARA Shiraz, to visually portray their interpretations of this year’s relevant theme: “2014 World Design Capital – Cape Town”.
For more information on what is on offer in Stellenbosch this Heritage Month contact Stellenbosch 360 at Tel: 021 883 3584 or swing by at their information centre at 36 Market Street before you explore the beauty and bounty of the town. Also visit www.wineroute.co.za and follow blog.wineroute.co.za for an interactive blog on the heritage happenings.
September also marks the end of Stellenbosch Experience’s Come Sit, Stay & Savour campaign which makes it possible for everyone to linger longer in Stellenbosch through three tiers of value-added stay-and-play packages, ranging from budget-friendly, to top end. Visit www.stellenboschtravel.co.za for more.