The Botrivier Barrels and Beards Festival is on next weekend and many wine enthusiasts will be heading over Sir Lowry’s Pass to enjoy a feast of fine wine, good food and much entertainment. There will be plenty of all three things going on at the actual festival itself but for those of you who might be staying over, here is a suggestion for a really good lunch the day afterwards.
'Isn’t that the Elves village in Lord of the Rings?' Yep – it is! But it’s also a new boutique winery perched on the side of the N2, just after the Kleinmond turn-off, to which I was recently invited. The winery is owned by Austrian couple Heimo & Maria Thalhammer who bought the farm in 2005 and the vineyards were planted in 2008 with the first vintage of Sauvignon Blanc produced in 2011 - they’ve recently released a Shiraz and their new Sauvignon as well as a dry Rose. The winery has a conference centre which is proving popular for weddings and also a Bistro overlooking vineyards and the N2.
It’s a clean, white modern building with full-length glass windows and doors all round. The day we visited, a nice fire was roaring away in the heart of the restaurant, suggesting it’s more than just a summer location. There are lawns out the front which you can have picnics on when the weather obliges and plenty of space for kids to wander around and explore.
Outside the restaurant stands a large wire rhino called Wetsi and people are urged to buy ribbons in support of anti-poaching activities and tie them on. The vibe is very relaxed and chilled with children being welcome and colouring books etc being provided.
We visited on a public holiday weekend so the menu was slightly different from the norm, but the style of food is very more-ish. Expect big portions of well-cooked, tasty, comfort food like homemade burgers, chicken curry, a fine Springbok casserole and old favourite fish 'n chips. The Bistro serves breakfast as well if you’re an early bird and tapas if you’re a late afternoon-chiller.
The kids menu went down very well indeed with the assorted 7 year olds at our table, especially the chocolate sauce for dessert. More than one parent was licking their fingers surreptitiously afterwards! They import a range of amazing Austrian chocolates called Zotter – don’t leave without buying some!
We were invited to taste their first red wine and their new Sauvignon Blanc 2012, both of them made by Kobie Viljoen at neighbouring Gabrielskloof. Right now, the 2011 Sauvignon is showing better which is consistent with other good quality sauvvies from this cool-climate region, but I expect the 2012 to power through at a later date. The Shiraz is drinking beautifully now and at an incredible R75 has to be one of the bargains of the region. And with no mark-up on their own wines in the Bistro, this is as good a reason to go as any. A well-chosen list of mainly Botrivier wines rounds out the three Rivendell offerings.
You should go if…
You like tasty, unpretentious, well-cooked food served with warmth and friendliness. Families will be happy (make sure you pre-book an apple-feeding session with Ziggy the African Short Snout pig), but if you’re anti-kid, then don’t let that put you off because there is plenty of space for all.
Visit the farm's website for more details.
It’s a great halfway stop if you’re away for a weekend and a welcome addition to the area.