After our epic two-day journey on the Rovos Rail, my mother and I embarked on an epic weeklong road trip from Cape Town to Joburg. Our first stop was the Robertson Wine Valley.

Before I start talking about wine I need to give a shout-out to Around About Cars. Renting cars normally gives me huge anxiety, but Around About Cars was so easy to deal with and we couldn’t have made this journey without their assistance. Also we loved our little white car, which was perfect for wine country photo-ops.

Zandvliet Wine EstateThe Zandvliet Wine Estate and our cute car, which took us from one end of South Africa to the other.

Anyway, back to the wine. The Robertson Wine Valley is about two hours north of Cape Town, consisting of about 50 wineries in and around the towns of Ashton, Bonnievale, McGregor, and Robertson. (This area is also commonly referred to as the Langeberg.) I’ve been wanting to visit for ages and I thought this would be a great time to do it because Mom loves hanging out in small towns.

I was right. I love Stellenbosch and Franschhoek but Robertson has a totally different vibe — homier and more casual. It was a great change of pace from the normal Cape Town wine experience.

Robertson Wine Valley, Day 1

First we went to the Rooiberg Winery, home of the Biggest Red Chair in Africa.

Biggest Red Chair in Africa at Rooiberg WineryThe #BigRedChair. Why? I don’t really know. But I like it. (Photo: Jeanie Freeman)

The Robertson Wine Valley is known for a sweet wine called muscadel. I’m personally not a sweet wine fan but Mom (who is normally not much of a drinker at all) really likes it — even more reason for us to visit this particular wine region.

I confess that even I enjoyed the red muscadel we tried at Rooiberg. It’s a very photogenic wine, too.

Rooiberg wine from Robertson Wine ValleyRuby-red muscadel at Rooiberg Winery.

From Rooiberg Mom and I headed to the tiny town of McGregor, where we would sleep that night. We checked into Rose House, one of several self-catering houses available in McGregor through McGregor Country Getaways.

Rose House is delightful, as is the entire town of McGregor. There are only a few streets, most of them unpaved, and the town is ringed by beautiful mountains. I think Mom would move to McGregor tomorrow if it weren’t so far away from her adorable grandson in America.

Car in front of your house in McGregorAdorable house, adorable car.

Mom at Rose House in McGregorAdorable house, adorable Mom.

Field and house in McGregorLate afternoon in McGregor.

Sunrise in McGregorSunrise the next morning.

We had an amazing dinner in McGregor at a restaurant called 51 (named for its address: 51 Voortrekker Street), which is only open for dinner on Mondays. We were very lucky to be in town on a Monday and snag one of the last tables available at 51, especially because the restaurant’s theme for that night was American Southern cuisine. We feasted on spicy fried chicken, collard greens, cornbread, sweet potato pie, and apple crumble.

Dinner at 51 in McGregorDinner at 51.

If you find yourself in McGregor on a Monday, don’t miss this place. 51 doesn’t have a website or Facebook page (it’s very new), but contact Philip via WhatsApp at +27-83-675-0403 to book a table. 51 is also open Thursday through Sunday for breakfast and lunch.

Robertson Wine Valley, Day 2

The next day we left McGregor and drove 20 minutes to the vineyards around Ashton. We visited the huge Excelsior Wine Estate, where sales manager Ernest Reyneke took us on a tour of the factory and the farm. I’ve never watched wine being bottled before, which was really cool.

Wine bottles at ExcelsiorWine bottles ready to be filled at Excelsior.

Mom and wine vats
Granted, Mom is a small person. But those are some big-ass wine vats nonetheless.

Heather and Mom at ExcelsiorOn the farm. (Photo: Ernest)

Mom and I also got to try making our own red wine blends. My 2Summers Road Trip blend was 50% cabernet, 25% merlot, and 25% shiraz.

2Summers blend from ExcelsiorA friend and I drank this a few days ago. I’m a pretty good wine blender, if I do say so myself.

Zandvliet Wine Estate was our next stop. I think this was my favorite place in the valley, because in addition to making great wine Zandvliet also produces the patented Clemengold clementine.

If you live in South Africa and shop at Woolworths, then you probably know how delicious Clemengolds are.

Mom stealing ClemengoldsThis photo may or may not be evidence that my mother is a Clemengold thief. Fortunately for her she has already fled the country.

We had a fantastic wine tasting at Zandvliet — pairing the wines with Clemengold-flavored chutney, chocolate, biscotti, and other goodies — followed by a lovely lunch outside the tasting room.

Wine tasting at ZandvlietZandvliet wine tasting. I walked away with two bottles of the 2017 Chardonnay. Shout-out to the charming Francine Petersen, who made this tasting so much fun.

Lunch at ZandvlietLunch at Zandvliet.

Finally, we visited the hundred-year-old Weltervrede Estate near Bonnievale.

Wine tasting at WeltervredeThe classic wine-pour shot.

We were feeling pretty burned out on wine-tasting at this point but wound up having a great time with Weltervrede marketing manager Steyn Fullard. The highlight was a candlelit tasting in the old underground cellars beneath the estate.

Underground wine tastingWine-tasting by candlelight. I bought a bottle of the Philip Jonker MCC.

That night we stayed at Enon House, the guesthouse on the Zandvliet farm, and watched the sun set over the grape vines. Perfect. The end.

Sunset at Zandvliet
Thank you, Robertson Wine Valley.

Our accommodation (and some of our food and wine) in the Robertson Wine Valley was complimentary, and we received a discount on our hire car. Opinions expressed are mine.

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