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Harvest festivals in the Cape Winelands

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Harvest festivals in the Cape Winelands

Enjoy the fruits of the winemakers’ labour at these stomping soirees in Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl and surrounds

During summer in Cape Town, everything comes alive: the mountain glows a brilliant green, the azure skies sing with cheerful birds, the seas dance with surfers and swimmers and even the nightclubs blossom with a multitude of foreign booze-seekers. So it’s no wonder that this happens to be the time that the Cape Winelands’ vineyards are at their ripest and readiest too, spilling over with plump grapes waiting to be plucked and blended.

To pay homage to this period of plenty, the region’s many award-winning wine farms – and there are many ­– host vibrant harvest festivals that, like the traditional celebrations of past, give thanks for the year’s yield and rejoice in the abundance of fruit that was reaped. These lively, family-friendly soirees typically feature stomping contests, blending workshops, food markets, pairing sessions, cellar tours, live music and more.

In short, they’re the sort of fiestas you don’t want to miss out on. So, to make sure you don’t pass up the opportunity, and to ensure you have the liveliest Mother City summer possible, we’ve gathered together a rundown of some of the top, most memorable harvest festivals in the Cape Winelands below. From interactive jubilees in Robertson to delicious fruity feasts in Durbanville, this guide includes options for infants and elders, casual drinkers and connoisseurs.

2016 WINE HARVEST FESTIVALS IN THE CAPE WINELANDS

Stellenbosch Wine Festival (5 – 7 February 2016)
In 2016, the ever-popular Stellenbosch Wine Festival again brings all the festivities together under one roof at the Coetzenburg Sports Ground. The main event, which runs from Friday, 5 to Sunday, 7 February 2016, will feature vino from around 80 different Stellenbosch farms, a Gourmet Lane that’s dotted with the stalls of top local restaurants, a number of food and wine pairing experiences and a fun grape stomping ground. What’s more, there will be live music performed by acclaimed South Africa artists Karen Zoid, BlackByrd, Kurt Darren and Ard Matthews. Visitors can also look forward to a harvest parade through the streets, a golf challenge, the 5-km Pick ‘n Pay women’s walk and a 17-km mountain bike ride. Do note: individual wine estates – there are over 148 in total in the area – will still also host their own unique activities throughout the three days, so be sure to check the respective farm websites for more details on these.
Tickets: Tickets for the main event can be purchased from Webticket.co.za and cost R180 for adults. Entry is free for children under the age of 18. Individual events at the various wine farms must be bought from the farms themselves and prices vary depending on the activity.
Coetzenburg Sports Ground | Coetzenburg Road | Stellenbosch | +27 (0) 21 426 5775

Delheim Start of Harvest Celebration (23 – 24 January 2016)
To celebrate the beginning of the 2016 grape harvest, revered Stellenbosch estate Delheim, which is best known for its top-notch Merlot, is hosting a fun family-friendly vine-to-wine affair from Saturday, 23 to Sunday, 24 January 2016. Visitors to the picturesque farm will be treated to a free glass of fermenting grape must and complimentary mosbolletjies (sweet bread rolls) before enjoying a buffet-style picnic lunch on the verdant greens that line the river’s edge. The highlight of the affair, however, is the grape stomping contest that will see teams roll barrels, grab grapes and smash the purple-skinned fruit enthusiastically to determine who can produce the most juice (great prizes are up for grabs). Little ones can play to their hearts’ content in the outside area, so this is certainly an event fit for the whole family.
Tickets: 
Tickets are limited to only 120 per day and cost R300p/p for adults and R175p/p for children under 12; entry is free for little ones under the age of two years.
Delheim Wine Estate | Knorhoek Road | Simonsberg Ward | Stellenbosch | +27 (0)21 888 4600

Riesling and Rarities Rock Festival at Hartenberg Wine Estate (23 January 2016)
This fun harvest celebration pays respects to the aromatic German cultivar Riesling. Hosted at the acclaimed Hartenberg Wine Estate in Stellenbosch (the farm is well known for both its rich Riesling and its award-winning Shiraz), the garden party gives festival-goers the chance to sip and sample various versions of the versatile European white from a number of different Cape Winelands estates, including Paul Cluver, Nitida and Nederburg. What’s more, this year’s event will again feature an assortment of rare varietals (hence the inclusion of ‘rarities’ in the festival name), like Semillon, Pinot Grigio and Viognier, produced by local farms. And because vino just isn’t the same without food, there’ll be an array of savoury and sweet eats on offer from on-site deli stalls and the option to pre-book a picnic basket for R150p/p (this can be done via Webtickets.co.za). Not to mention, visitors can expect live music to top off a fabulous day of harvest fun in the sun.
Tickets: Entrance to the Riesling and Rarities Rock festival costs R120p/p, and tickets can be bought online via Webtickets.co.za or at the gate on the day.
Bottelary Road (M23) | Stellenbosch | +27 (0) 21 865 2541

Bubbles and Braai at Grande Roche Hotel (30 January 2016)
The sophisticated Bubbles and Braai fiesta at the Grande Roche Hotel in Paarl is a sterling, sparkling way to pay homage to the yield of our local lands. The culinary affairs pair a selection of succulent barbequed steaks, chops, ribs and seafood prepared by the property’s head chef with an assortment of South African Méthode Cap Classiques. Visitors will be able to meet some of the winemakers and learn more about what goes into producing the perfect bubbly before enjoying the braaied eats, which are served with salads and sides. It’s a winning combination of elements that’s bound to make for a spectacular summer evening.
Tickets: Tickets to these exclusive events cost R495p/p and can be booked by phoning the hotel on the number below or mailing christine@granderoche.co.za.
Plantasie Street | Paarl | +27 (0) 21 863 5100

Hanepoot Grape Picking at De Krans Wine Cellar (4 February – 28 February 2016)
Although De Krans Wine Cellar near Calitzdorp doesn’t host its own defined harvest fair, it does give locals a chance to celebrate that time of year when the grapes are ripe and ready by opening their vines up for public picking. Every Monday to Saturday, those in the area can visit the farm and fill containers with delicious Hanepoot grapes plucked straight from the branches. Not to mention, De Krans wine and port is available for purchase, and those who simple want to sample the wine can do so for R20p/p.
Tickets: Please phone the organiser to confirm the price per kilogram of grapes for 2016.
Route 62 | Calitzdorp | +27 (0) 44 213 3314

Robertson Wine Valley’s Hands-on Harvest Festival (6 February – 27 March 2016)
As its name suggests, this region-wide festival, which features over 20 wineries and estates from across the charming Robertson Wine Valley, invites vino devotees to get actively involved in the harvesting and winemaking process. Stretching over seven full weeks from Saturday, 6 February to Sunday, 27 March 2016 (it was just a one-weekend affair in 2013), the vine extravaganza gives visitors the chance to do everything from grape picking, bunch sorting and wine blending to vineyard walks, cellar tours and picnic lunches. Specific highlights include options like fynbos 4x4 trips, the Grape Escape Amazing Race, bubbly making classes, brandy tastings, fondue barbecues and boat cruises.  All events are open to only small groups so as to keep things intimate, and while some activities run throughout the festival, others are held on only one or two days during the period.
Tickets: Prices vary depending on the specific event, and each activity must be booked directly with the estate hosting it at least three days before the event.
Robertson Wine Valley | +27 (0)23 626 3167

Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate Harvest Festival (20 February 2016)
Boasting a lengthy history that stretches over 300 years, this grand Cape Dutch-style estate in the pretty Franschhoek Valley is a particularly majestic spot to pay homage to the vino harvest. On Saturday, 20 February 2016, the 30-hectare farm invites wine lovers to participate in its annual summer festival, which features everything from a tractor ride into the vineyards and an old-fashioned stomping competition to a cellar tour and live entertainment. The fun is followed by a decadent buffet feast prepared by the estate’s gifted executive chef. Overall, the fest is a perfect way for family and friends to enjoy a ‘grape’ day out in the sun.
Tickets: Adults pay R650p/p and kids younger than 12 years of age are charged R350p/p to enjoy all of the above. It’s essential to book beforehand, and this can be done by contacting the estate.    
Main Road | Franschhoek | +27 (0) 21 876 8600

Feast of the Grape (27 - 28 February 2016)
To celebrate the end of its annual harvest season, 12 vineyards in the picturesque Durbanville wine valley will team up for a jam-packed day of family fun at the 2016 Feast of the Grape festival on Saturday, 27, and Sunday, 28 February 2016. This year, the merry affair is setting up camp at the stunning D’Aria Winery where vino lovers are invited to come celebrate at a grape-stomping do that will, almost literally, knock your socks off. Festival-goers can expect to partake in a bunch of activities, like a charity grape-stomp, tutored tastings and selfie-taking at the photobooth. There’s also a live music line-up featuring the likes of Bottomless Coffee Band and Newton & Co.
Tickets: Tickets to this festival cost R120p/p, and can be purchased online via Webtickets.co.za. The festivities start at 11am.
Racecourse Road | Durbanville | +27 (0) 21 801 6772

Muratie Harvest Festival (12 March 2016)
Steeped in centuries of rich history, the family-owned Muratie wine farm in Stellenbosch’s Knorhoek Valley is an easygoing, old-world spot to share in the harvest-time festivities. On Saturday, 12 March, the long-term owners of the farm invite family and friends to join them in gratitude for the rich crops reaped this year and celebrate outside under the estate’s ancient oak trees.  Here, in the fresh summer breeze, guests can sip on Muratie’s sterling wines, snack on eats from the on-site Farm Kitchen and soak up the catchy sounds of the Kitchen Jammin’ Blues Band. Of course, both little and big kids can also hike up their trousers and have some foot-stomping fun squishing barrels of freshly plucked grapes. At 12pm, Rijk Melck will be giving a free talk on the extraordinary characters from the farm’s colourful past, after whom the Muratie wines are named.
Tickets: Entrance to this harvest festival is entirely R50p/p, and the festivities start at 11:30am.
Knorhoek Road | Koelenhof | Stellenbosch | +27 (0) 21 865 2330

Darling Cellars Crush Day (27 February 2016)
Even the small West Coast town of Darling jumps on the harvest festival bandwagon annually. This year, the esteemed Darling Cellars is hosting its yearly do on Saturday, 27 February 2016, and as always, the family-friendly shindig begins bright and early at 8am before the sweltering heat of the day settles in. Visitors will kick off the festivities with a light breakfast of yoghurt, juice and more before taking a tractor into the vineyards, where they’ll pick their own grapes. It’s then onto the stomping, crushing, trudging and squishing, which will be followed by a wine label design contest and a delicious lamb spit braai lunch featuring an assortment of tasty trimmings. Kids can participate in a host of fun activities, including face painting and a treasure hunt, or cool off with a ride down the water slide, and adults can also look forward to live music and market stalls. All this amidst the tranquil, rural scenery of the Darling area makes for an especially enjoyable way to get in on the harvest hype.
Tickets: Passes to take part in Crush Day can be secured by completing the booking form on the Darling Cellars website (darlingcellars.co.za) and mailing it to tasting@darlingcellars.co.za. Tickets cost R250p/p for adults, R150p/p for teenagers aged 13 to 17 years and R100p/p for children below the age of 12.    
R315 | Mamre Weg Station | Darling | +27 (0) 22 492 2276

Eikendal Weintaufe Harvest Celebration (6 March 2016)
Once a small ceremony intended to give thanks for the harvest, Eikendal wine estate’s annual grape gala is now a large celebratory event eagerly anticipated by many. The vibrant affair – it happens on Sunday, 6 March 2016 this year – is ideal for everyone, from the teeniest tot to the greyest grandpa, and boasts a full programme that includes options like grape stomping, vineyard walks, a jumping castle, photobooth, laidback live entertainment, an ice cream stand, face painting, jungle gym and live music from Newton. Visitors can also pick up some wine and grub from the on-site restaurant and picnic on the edge of the property’s glistening dams (just be sure to bring your own blanket), and as a highlight, guests can sample the brand new 2015 Chardonnay (Eikendal is known for this varietal) directly from the barrel – a rare harvest-time treat.
Tickets: Entrance costs only R50p/p for adults, and tickets will be on sale at the gate on the day; kiddies younger than 18 years of age can enjoy the festivities for free. Entrance includes a complimentary glass.
R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West | +27 (0) 21 855 1422 

Nederburg Harvest at Dusk (20 February 2016)
The famous Nederburg is opening its doors for a harvest centered celebration. Learn more about the process of wine making from vine to bottle. Farm manager Bertie Faure and viticulturist Bennie Liebenberg will offer guests the chance to taste the various grapes that eventually became the wines that make Nederburg so famous. Children of all ages are welcome, with plenty of activities to keep the whole family entertained. Enjoy the wine making process of years ago, with the opportunity to stomp grapes, and even collect them in the vineyards yourself. Prizes will be hidden amidst the vines, so keep an eye out for some fabulous surprises! A range of delicious family-sized platters will be served courtesy of The Red Table restaurant, to be enjoyed under the shade of the aged trees on the lawn of the Manor House.
Tickets: Tickets are R350 for individuals over 12, R220 for children aged six to 12 and children under six enter for free. There are only 100 tickets available so make sure to book as soon as possible. Tickets/reservations to be made through Nederburg directly at theredtable@nederburg.co.za, or give them a call on +27(0)218775155
Nederberg Wine Estate | Paarl | +27(0)218775155

Vrede en Lust Harvest Festival (27 February 2016)
Vrede en Lust offers the perfect family day out this February, with activities suitable for all ages. Parents can indulge in wine tasting and kiddies can play in the supervised children’s area, with amazingly yummy food bringing the whole thing together. Giant Jenga, chess and croquet will be available for everyone’s enjoyment, with fun most certainly being the main order of the day. For adults, the fruit and wine pairing will be available with bookings on a first come first served basis. For those who fancy a more relaxed day, enjoy the artisanal food stalls that will be there to excite and delight. Kid’s entertainment includes face painting, jumping castles, and arts and craft activities. Upon arrival, guests will receive a complimentary tasting glass, as well as a drink to go in it. Soak up the history of the 328-year-old estate with a stroll through the gardens dotted with ancient oak trees then indulge in a bit of grape stomping to really get the nostalgia going.
Tickets: Tickets are R150p/p, with children under 12 entering for free. Tickets include a complimentary tasting glass and a drink on arrival. The children’s play area is for kids aged three to twelve. No ticket sales at the gate, so please make sure to pre-book. Tickets are available through www.tickets.co.za. Feel free to contact Vrede en Lust directly on +27 (0) 218741611 or at info@vnl.co.za.
Vrede en Lust Wine Estate | Frranschoek | +27(0)218741611 

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Read more about another seasonal Western Cape pastime: strawberry picking in Cape Town and Stellenbosch.

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