The 2015 Stellenbosch Wine Festival kicked off this weekend with a colourful harvest parade that included marching bands, Cape Minstrels, drum majorettes as well as decorated tractors and trucks, which meandered through the oak-lined streets of the historical town. The parade, which forms part of the 2015 Stellenbosch Wine Festival presented by Pick n Pay, celebrated the essence of the winelands and paid homage to the thousands of men and women responsible for the success of the wine industry in Stellenbosch and the surrounding areas with an official blessing of the harvest.
Pre-festival festivities taking place in central Stellenbosch included a colourful harvest street parade and the traditional blessing of the harvest ceremony, followed by a street festival on Saturday, January 24. On Wednesday, January 28, guests can sit down to an elegant, open-air gala dinner in Plein Street, right in front of the impressive Town Hall for the Longridge Long Table. Winery Experiences will run until Sunday, February 1, on various farms and estates in and around Stellenbosch.
The festival will culminate in a three-day wine and lifestyle experience from Friday, January 30, to February 1 at the Coetzenburg grounds. Located in a natural amphitheatre, the grounds are surrounded by mountains, a river and oak-lined walkways, and couldn’t be a better location in which to enjoy good food and wine – and great entertainment.
Visiters will be able to see some of South Africa’s top artists in action during daily sunset concerts and enjoy the great ambience of the festival venue. These concerts are all included in the price of a daily venue entrance ticket. Starting on January 30 from 8pm to 10pm, the ever-popular Jannie Moolman, Corlea Botha and Riana Nel will take festival goers on a musical journey with everything from classically-inspired ballades to more up-tempo numbers. If you prefer a more laid-back sound, then the jazzy sounds of Auriol Hays coupled with the fusion of instrumental act Sterling EQ should definitely appeal to you. You’ll find them on stage on Saturday, January 31, at 4.30pm and 7pm respectively. Be sure not to miss guitarist and vocalist Jeremy Olivier on Sunday afternoon from 1pm. Wrapping up the weekend’s entertainment will be an intimate session with Kahn, frontman of The Parlotones, from 4pm to 6pm.
Festivalgoers will be able to take a virtual tour of the Stellenbosch winelands under one roof. More than 350 different wines from participating wineries will be available for tasting. This is the ideal opportunity to expand your wine knowledge, experiment with new varietals and to taste the latest vintages. Many prominent Stellenbosch winemakers will be on hand to personally introduce their wines to the public. Several boutique wineries will only present their wines on Sunday. All the wines can be purchased on-site at the Pick n Pay Wine Shop.
Visitors will also be able to take a culinary journey and experience why Stellenbosch is considered the gourmet capital of South Africa. Local restaurants such as Wild Peacock Emporium, Blaauwklippen, Eaglevlei, Clos Malverne, Spier and Bistro13 (Stellenbosch Vineyards) will pair their signature dishes with a special wine guaranteed to tantalise the taste buds. Some of the offerings include: fresh oysters, charcuterie and cheese platters, kebabs, burgers, pork belly, spring rolls, steak tartare, tempura prawns, fresh strawberries and cream, wine sorbet and much more.
Pick n Pay SmartShopper cardholders will have the unique opportunity to enjoy special food and wine pairings in a dedicated tasting room. Winemakers from Spier, Kleine Zalze, Villiera and Waterford Estate will present daily sessions to reveal the secrets behind perfect food and wine combinations. These award-winning wines will be paired with tasting portions that will highlight the unique characteristics of the wines. Sessions will last for 30 minutes and only 40 people can be accommodated per session. (For bookings, email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Attendees will also be able to experience the essence of the winelands by trying out some wine-related activities. Challenge your friends and show your skills at grape stomping, barrel rolling and bottle opening competitions. Enter the Pick n Pay Women’s Walk on Saturday, January 31, and enjoy a fun 5km walk through the streets of Stellenbosch in aid of breast cancer awareness. MTB enthusiasts can look forward to the 18km Momentum MTB Grape Ride on Sunday, February 1. Participants in the walk and MTB ride will receive free venue access, but have to purchase a glass for tasting.
Dedicated kiddies’ entertainment at the Momentum Health Kiddies Area will ensure that toddlers to tweens have loads of fun, while parents can relax and enjoy the festival. The Klouter Kabouter playground with its mini jumping castles and fun inflatables will cater for the toddlers, while tweens should love the larger castles and water slide. A team of dedicated, qualified caretakers will be on duty every day to oversee activities and make sure everything runs without a hitch.
* Tickets are limited, so book now to avoid disappointment. Daily tickets are available from www.webtickets.co.za at R170 per adult, which includes a R20 voucher, redeemable at the on-site PnP wine shop. The daily ticket price for children between the ages of three and 17 is R60, while children under three enter free of charge.
Follow the Stellenbosch Wine Festival on Twitter @StellWineFest and sign up for regular updates on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/StellenboschWineFestival.