Accommodation in Robertson

Soaking up the winter sun in the jewel of the Route 62, Robertson

Rebecca Solomon

One of the greatest things about living in Cape Town, during winter we’re treated to patches of sunshine-kissed days that give summer a serious run for its money. The end of June is a case in point. Preceded by torrential downpours and snow-tipped mountains, June’s last weekend was more French Riviera than wintry Cape Town and came with plenty of fun in the sun benefits.

The only drawback of such climatic luck is you can’t plan ahead (which was just as well, as upon arriving in Robertson – one of the Route 62’s best – the town wasn’t exactly pumping….).

Usually tourist-swarming, Robertson’s wow factor has catapulted in recent years. Just two hours drive from Cape Town it’s one of the province’s more illustrious wine routes and is headlined by a calendar of festivals. Experience Robertson in HD at the June ‘Wacky Wine Weekend’ (along with 18 000 visitors). Or, if crowds aren’t your thing, try the ‘Robertson Slow’ (August) or ‘Wine on the River’ (October) which run at a much calmer tempo than their ultra-popular sister.

While the festivals are major draw-cards, Robertson can stand on its own two feet. With 42 wineries, Tolkien-like mountains, Victorian architecture and plenty of mountain biking or running trails, it ticks all the right boxes for a great weekend away.

To round it off, why not stay on a wine farm and mingle with the winemakers? We did and booked into Robertson’s grand old lady, Excelsior Manor Guesthouse - a Cape Revival manor house, which reached its peak during the ostrich feather boom at the turn of last century. Part of the De Wet family since 1870, it’s recently been refurbished and is open to the public.

Arriving on Friday evening, my first impression was grandeur. From the chaise longue in the hallway, to hand-carved European clocks, Excelsior has captured a slice of 1900’s history without being superfluous. Invited in for a glass of Cabernet, we chatted to host Caren who knowledgably shared stories of the Ostrich feather explosion and why all the furniture looked like part of a King Lear set (the previous owners sold their feathers in Europe and returned with Swiss and French artefacts) before turning in for the night.

The next morning we were met with clear blue skies heavy with birdsong and a piping hot breakfast enjoyed next to the crackling fire. But, despite Excelsior’s scenic beauty, the wine-blending was the flavour of the day. Unique to Excelsior, visitors blend their own bottle using Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet, seal with a cork and brand it with a “My Own Creation” label - ideal for any private collection.

Post the wine-making lesson, we picnicked at Viljoensdrift, wine-tasted at Springfield while dangling our feet from the pier, and rode Excelsior’s bikes through the vineyards to watch the sunset. Bliss.

Wrapping up our trip on Sunday morning - after being fed like royals the night before (R200 a head for a sumptuous three-course meal and bottle of wine) – sight of the farm’s new-born El Paco (small Llama) was the perfect farewell. Basking in the sunshine, this little two-hour miracle was up on all fours, frantically suckling its mother. And had it not been for the snowy peaks, could easily have been a scene from the first day of spring.

This, teamed with the clear air, perfect sunny skies and Robertson’s charm, made it the perfect winter getaway.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the Sneaky Weekender articles on this website, do not necessarily reflect the views of Finding Africa.

Tasting room at Excelsior
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