Friday, February 13, 2009
Wines of the Overberg
Nectar of the vine
Benjamin Franklin once said, "Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance." This certainly seems to ring true of the winemakers of the Overberg. What a life: creating nectar of the vines whilst living in one of the most beautiful areas in our country. Would we expect these wine folk to be anything but as chilled as a good chardonnay should be served?
The Overberg can be distinguished into four different wine regions, namely Swellendam and surrounds, the Overstrand coastal region, Theewaterskloof – including Elgin, Bot River, Villiersdorp and Greyton, and lastly Cape Aghulas – the southern most region of Africa. These wine-producing areas, although newer to the South African wine industry, are by no means inferior to the traditional wine lands of the Boland (Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl). In fact, as any local will tell you, the Overberg is proud of its many award-winning wines. Overberg restaurants support the local estates, and their wine lists offer a choice of outstanding wines from the region. Some go as far as offering only local wines; so confident are they of the standard produced.
An ideal way to start a Saturday would be at the ‘boeremark’ (farmers’ market) at Hermanuspietersfontein. Friends meet here each Saturday morning, over breakfast of cinnamon pancakes, homemade quiche and bacon and egg rolls, finished off with steaming organic coffee. Stock up on gastronomic treats for the weekend: local cheeses, lemon-infused olive oil, chillies and preserves, diet-breaking baked goods to mention but a few. Now make your way up the spectacular Hemel-en-Aarde Valley (Heaven on Earth valley), to savour award-winning Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Cool climate and soil condition make this valley ideal for these cultivars. Restaurants have been strategically placed to make the most of sweeping views of vineyards, and across to Walker Bay; the vista ever changing with the seasons. Indulge yourself by making a stop at the Wine Village, for the largest selection of South African wines, presented by truly passionate and knowledgeable staff.
Make your way from the colonial village of Stanford, towards Cape Aghulas, the southernmost point in Africa. Cool maritime breezes to these southern vineyards ensure slow ripening, full-flavoured berries. This route makes for a scenic drive, through quaint villages such as Elim, with its tiny thatched cottages, and Arniston, with everlasting white beaches and shipwreck scattered coastline, to the impressive sight of end of the African continent.
Chill out and enjoy the pace of country living with the locals of the Overberg. You will be pleasantly surprised by what this best-kept-secret wine region has to offer.
written for EXPERIENCE OVERBERG by Rosanne Turner