Sun and sea-lovers who are all set for the 2015 December holidays will know that the weather doesn’t always play ball. The sun may get a little too much on some days while a sudden downpour can spoil the fun. For times like these Van Loveren wine estate in the fertile Robertson Valley offers the ideal opportunity for a day excursion to keep the whole family in the holiday mood.
Taste experiences for big and small
Van Loveren is legendary for its innovating food and wine pairings that allow visitors to learn about the farm’s variety of wines in an entertaining and delicious way. For the coming season, the tasting options have been expanded and each has been linked to a specific brand. Each tasting may now also be enjoyed alcohol-free. Try the five eco-friendly Tangled Tree wines with chocolate; in the Rhino Run series, with charcuterie (and simultaneously make your contribution to the conservation of these endangered animals); or, the five Van Loveren wines, with some of South Africa’s most flavoursome cheeses.
The Christina Masterclass gives you a taste of this estate’s premium Christina van Loveren range and the MCC Brut, while the Four Cousins Fan Tasting allows you to experience this renowned series as well as cream liqueurs. The brand new Fiver Party Platter lets wine-lovers try the wine-based Fiver ready-to-drink (RTD) range, which is not usually offered at tastings. Each option is available at as little as R50 per person. Youngsters’ palates are also drawn in with two different, fun and alcohol-free tastings, at only R30 per person.
The Christina’s @ Van Loveren Bistro is geared to welcome guests seven-days-a-week, from 10:00, with thin-crust, woodfired pizzas, gourmet burgers and a variety of fresh and creative options made by Delia en Chani Clarke. This talented pair of sisters took over the bistro six months ago and their expansive industry experience promises visitors exceptional meals.
Delia, the former executive chef at the five-star Simola Hotel Country Club and Spa’s Orchid Room in Knysna, and Chani, food and beverage manager at the same property, feel strongly about the use of fresh, local produce, good coffee en sensational sweets. All items on the menu are prepared, baked and decorated in the kitchen. To top it off, the laid-back sounds of local musicians ensure unforgettable Sunday afternoon visits.
Outdoor enthusiasts, listen up
Nothing gets rid of the year’s stress than some time out in nature. Whether your idea of relaxation is a gentle walk through the vineyards or an endurance MTB ride over hills and dales, you can do it all on the farm. The four Van Loveren Java MTB routes are open throughout the year and offer a family-friendly 12km, as well as a 20km, 31km and 35km option that will test your technical skills. They also serve as excellent preparation for the JAVA MTB Challenge that takes place here on 1 October 2016. The routes start and end at the Van Loveren tasting room, but take you across neighbouring farms with magnificent views along the way. Bring your own bike or rent one on the farm.
Alternatively, pull on your walking shoes and discover the flora and fauna of the area along the 7.5km Fish Eagle route, a bio diverse hiking trail. Here you’ll also see an exceptional rock formation that was shaped some 1,3 million years ago (the only other similar formation lies just outside Sutherland) and birdwatchers stand a good chance of seeing and ticking off up to 100 different species on their checklist.
Tradition is important to Van Loveren and the Retief-family celebrates milestones from their past as well as those of our country with memorial trees in a special garden that was started in 1939 by estate matriarch Jean Retief. Join the garden tour with a glass of bubbly in hand, to learn more about this fascinating area.
The tasting room is open from Monday to Friday, from 08:30 to 17:00, Saturdays from 09:30 to 15:30 and Sundays, from 11:00 to 15:00. For more information about Van Loveren’s wide range of sought-after wines and activities, visit www.vanloveren.co.za; contact the farm on 023 615 1505 or follow Van Loveren on Facebook (www.facebook.com/vanloverenwines) and Twitter (@vanloverenwines).