Tip: Go early. That’s the only way to get a decent parking spot before the whole town becomes congested to a near standstill. Also, May can still get quite warm in this region and since you’ll be walking between some of the venues, you want to capitalise on the cooler Autumn mornings.
Highlights of the day included:
Kloovenburg – Their Chardonnay with guava and tropical fruit on the palette was a cool balm after I had trekked all the way from the centre of town to the estate which is situated just outside of town. There were shuttles and tractors, but we couldn’t find one going in the direction we wanted to go. Kloovenberg also had olives with a blackberry dressing, green olives, chillie & garlic olives, and a few dipping oils that provide testament to the fact that the South African olive industry is growing stronger and stronger. The chilli and garlic as well as the oregano, basil and black pepper dipping oils were particularly delicious. The range also included olive caviar, basil and sundried tomato pesto’s, smoked olives and sundried pitted olives that were all a treat to eat. This time we caught a tractor back to town – a welcome relief.
Allesverloren – Here we were blown away by Chrisna’s Olives from DelVera. The Moroccan and the hickory smoked pesto’s are on my buy-it-if-you-see-it list. The salt dried olives were a peculiar treat, quite different to the sundried ones we’re used to. The snack of the day was C-Side Oysters’ West Coast, giant oysters. Beyond delicious and worth every penny. Org de Rac MCC with its almost cidery taste of apples paired particularly well with the oyster.
Pulpit Rock – While people were enjoying a hearty curry-potjie and just relaxing in the afternoon shade, we sampled the Pulpit Rock Chardonnay Reserve, with banana on the palette, it was another surprising treat.
The greater part of our day was spent trying to get to the participating venues, whether by foot or vehicle, which required more effort than the output was worth. The problem was not with organisation, but rather of expectations and personal preferences. I would have liked easier movement and more wines and olives available for tasting. Considering the number of excellent markets in and around Cape Town, it seems like quite a waste to travel all that way for an event that is more a market than a festival.
However. I saw how much families were enjoying themselves at the different venues. There were enough snacks and treats for sale by food trucks and stalls to satisfy even the most demanding toddler, teenager, and adults alike. Riebeeck Kasteel itself was abuzz with happy festival-goers and the restaurants had to do all they could to keep up.
Aside from the olives and the giant oyster, we didn't partake in other festival fare. Instead, we snacked on biltong. The car wasn't always within easy reach, so it was more difficult as you had to carry your necessaries around with you. It was a surprisingly warm day, so you wanted those necessaries to be as few and light as possible.
All things considered, the festival is something I would definitely mark in my 2016 calendar. Preferably with a bit more thought put into it. Second time round, I’ll make sure to plan an outing with friends or family to make use of the leisurely picnic-like atmosphere, rather than expecting a wine and olive tasting marathon.