There’s plenty of great food and fine wine in the world, but nowhere else has the ‘weskus vibe’ of the Namaqua West Coast. The people you meet here are what sets this place apart.
The scenery is much like you’d expect: little red fishing boats resting on the beach, an icy, bright blue ocean, fields of flowers lining the roads and fresh fish being served up with a glass of white wine. Stay a few days and join in some of the discoveries that we made on a recent road trip to the region.
Taste old and new wines at Seal Breeze
Near Lutzville, about 20km inland from the coast is where you’ll find the winemaker Joan Wiggins and her cellar of Seal Breeze Wines. One of the only female winemakers to own her own cellar, Joan is a trailblazer in her own right. She uses no modern equipment to make her wines and can tell you tales of how she lovingly selects her grapes. Her boutique winery produces small batches of old-world style wines and here you’ll be lucky enough to taste old vintages from this region.
Feast on seafood and wine at Fryer’s Cove
Just a friendly warning here: once you’ve been to Fryer’s Cove, you will be compelled to go back. Their hospitality, friendly service and outstanding location will steal your heart and don’t even get us started on their seafood platters and wine!
Their vineyard is one of the closest to the sea worldwide. The kitchen is run by community members who serve up homestyle recipes their families have perfected over generations, providing an authentic West Coast menu and benefiting the local community. What’s not to love?
Try a Bellpost wine tasting at Thi Art Restaurant
Bellpost Wines is a family winery belonging to the Thiarts and while they don't have a tasting room, you can taste a range of their wines at Thi Art Restaurant, another family venture. We were fortunate to be hosted for a tasting by Koos Thiart, who like his brother Danie who ran out for the Blue Bulls, has the height and stature of a professional rugby player, and is responsible for winemaking at Bellpost.
We recommend that you try the divine Bellpost Wines Ruby Cabernet 2014 and the unwooded Chardonnay. A glass of their semi-sweet, white blend C’est La Vie 2013 is best enjoyed with a hearty lunch at the restaurant and good company.
Enjoy a beer tasting with pizza at Maskam Brewing Company
By the end of the day, you want to be at Maskam Brewing Co., between Vredendal and Lutzville, where you’ll have front row seats for a dazzling sunset. Here you can sample their three delicious craft beers as your pizza is prepared in the wood-fired oven. It’s a kid-friendly location too, with a jungle gym and farm animals.
Drink craft gin with the distiller and owner of 1st Principles
Joubert Roux has an abundance of enthusiasm and a love for craft gin that we’d argue is contagious. It’s hard not to get excited while he energetically explains how he makes his fine gin starting from organic and locally sourced grains and botanicals and ending up with a product you could liken to art.
He is blazing a trail at 1st Principles with his unique solar-heated distillation process. Visit the distillery and you’ll also see his bamboo plantation that’s simply out of this world. We really enjoyed his rooibos gin and organic vodka, that was used to make the most amazing Caipirinhas on the West Coast!
Taste organic wines at Teubes Family Wines
Teubes Family Wines were way ahead of the curve, starting organic wine production nearly 17 years ago. “It’s not a sales technique for us. It’s a farming style that contributes to the bigger picture of being more environmentally conscious,” says winemaker Sybrand Teubes.
With their Zero Sulphur wine range the family business promises that you’ll be able to drink their wine and continue to feel good as it doesn’t carry the negative consequences associated with high sulphur levels. Basically a hangover, finally we are free. They have a low kilojoule Grenache Rosé that’s perfect for sunny summer days at the beach and we also really enjoyed the Malkopbaai Sauvignon Blanc and organic Chenin.
Stop for lunch and a tasting at Die Keldery
Die Keldery near Vredendal offers an extensive range of Namaqua Wines to pair with chocholate or, in proudly South African vein, biltong. If you are travelling with kids, they do a grape juice and jelly tot pairing complete with tasting sheet.
The halloumi salad was the perfect partner for a tasting of their premium wines from which the Spencer Bay red blend (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) stood out for me. Unsurprisingly it walked away with a Gold Veritas and Bronze Old Mutual Trophy Show award. They sell a range of lovely products from the region that would be a great souvenir for yourself or a loved one back home.
Enjoy a rooibos and wine pairing at Klawer Cellars
You’re in for something special at Klawer Cellars, situated on the N7. Their rooibos and wine pairing is a unique experience that allows you to taste a variety of regional specialities paired with delicious wines.
With the Klawer Chardonnay, you nibble on a piece of ‘skuinskoek’ (deep fried, diagonal cake bites) with rooibos jam, while the Villa Esposto Chenin Blanc is paired with rooibos fudge and the Villa Esposto Rosé is served with a rooibos drizzle, local olive oil and a piece of bread to soak it up with.
Next, we proceed to the reds. The Klawer Pinotage is paired with rooibos biscotti and their Cabernet Sauvignon is paired with rooibos soya sauce and cheddar. The tasting fittingly culminates in the Klawer African Ruby dessert wine infused with rooibos and buchu.
Stay over and dine at Hebron, Piekenierskloof
On your way back to Cape Town, at the top of the Piekenierskloof Pass, you’ll find a haven for wine and food lovers. Stay over at Hebron Guesthouse and enjoy a meal at their restaurant where you’ll have access to a sublime range of Piekenierskloof wines.
Steve and Caro Oldroyd have ensured that the restaurant’s meals and hospitality will make you want to move right in. Trying the fan-favourite Grenache Rosé is a must. The area has a fascinating history and the family (it feels like everyone who works here is part of their family) has a lot of pride and love for Piekenierskloof. Visit their deli for a keepsake from the region.