Quite unique… Viljoensdrift’s picnic on the Breede River among Robertson’s standout wine route experiences

NOWHERE else in the winelands of South Africa can you have quite the same food and wine experience as that offered at Viljoensdrift on the Breede River between Robertson and Bonnievale.

It’s off the beaten track, down the road from the cellar. It’s about a double-decker catamaran  a flat-bottomed river boat, as the Viljoen brothers Fred and Manie describe their craft. It’s about cruising up and down the stretch of river alongside the Viljoensdrift deli and wine-tasting room  sliding across the water for an hour or so at a sedate pace so as to appreciate the indigenous Yellowwood and wild Olive trees on the banks, a variety of birds and mountains in the distance.

Viljoensdrift on the river isn’t a place for those in a rush. You need to book in advance and the venue is renowned for its ‘don’t worry be happy’ appeal  an opportunity to chill out with a picnic hamper verging on gourmet. You can choose to be upstairs or downstairs aboard the Big Ben 2, as it’s called, and the outing can be as laid-back or fun-filled as you choose to make it. It’s also up to you as to what to eat and drink on the trip  you get to choose from a menu including fresh ciabatta loaves and spreads, biltong and various cured meats, salmon trout, cheeses, fruit, preserves and wines that are very hard to come by outside the Breede River Valley.

It’s arguable that Viljoensdrift wines are more readily available in Europe and America than they are in South Africa! You can buy them from the farm and there’s a delivery option, but you won’t find them in the wine shops of Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban et al. And yet, while the Viljoens are resisting more widespread distribution on the domestic front, overseas they now have agents in Canada and the USA, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark.

Good reviews have tended to go the way of red wines under the River Grandeur label, particularly the Pinotage and the Pinotage-driven Cape Blend. Although another of the success stories has been Viljoensdrift’s sparkling wine produced according to the Méthode Cap Classique.

The bubbly Villion Blanc de Blanc, made from Chardonnay, is the most premium-priced wine in the Viljoensdrift portfolio at all of R85 a bottle  compared with R40 to R65 for dry whites and reds in the River Grandeur range. From the tasting notes: “A fine and long-lasting mousse… Honeysuckle aromas… Some buttered toast flavours…”

Sadly, the 2011 River Grandeur Cape Blend which recently placed among the Top 5 in the Perold competition for combinations including between 30 and 70% Pinotage is now all sold out  not surprising given the very good value offering at R40 a bottle.

For more info about the Viljoensdrift river cruises, deli, picnics, wines and contact details, click here.