The thing I like most about the Stellenbosch Winelands is the association with festive food, colourful celebrations and generally good fun for the whole family, regardless of the season. As you enter the beautiful and leafy valley, you will trip over some of South Africa’s most renowned, and needless to say, award-winning wines. The opening of Harvest Season, and specifically the Harvest Parade, promised to be a good mix of all of the above, with a prominent focus on the local community and their essential role on the farms.
Years ago, as a university student on holiday in the Western Cape and at my first wine tasting in the region, I learned a valuable lesson in Stellenbosch survival: hydrate, protect, eat, repeat. Seasoned visitors will know why. So, on the last Saturday of January 2017, I joined a group of festive goers as we made our way through the streets of Stellenbosch with thoughtfully prepared “festival survival kit” (thank you Elmarie and Leane). It included the essentials: water, snacks, sunscreen and a map of the town (if we got lost). Off we set to enjoy the day in the sun!
What to expect from the Stellenbosch Harvest Parade and Festival?
Tractors turned into decorated floats. Festive cheer. Lots of music and smiling faces. You can expect marching bands, well-coordinated drum majorettes and streets filled with happy vibes.
What to do at the festival?
Spend some time in the streets and watch the floats come past. The Season is officially opened in the town square. The Stellenbosch Harvest Parade, presented in conjunction with the Stellenbosch Municipality, gets underway at 9 am, followed by a harvest blessing ceremony at the town hall in Plein Street at 10 am. It also signals the start of the Stellenbosch Wine Festival (Coetzenburg sports grounds – 24 to 26 February).
Take a town walking tour and indulge in the rich history of the City of Oaks. (Did you know The South African wine industry produces about 1,000,000,000 litres of wine annually? Stellenbosch is the primary location for viticulture and viticulture research.)
make your way to one of the estates in the region.
Delheim played the perfect host and a haven for a lazy lunch. You can join in the grape stomping, have some yum food, wine and enjoy the live music under the trees. Grape-stomping (also known as pigeage) is part of method of maceration used in traditional winemaking. Grapes get crushed by having barefoot participants repeatedly stomp on them in vats to release their juices and begin fermentation. I watched two kids ran about. A Jack Russel too, while a family was testing their balance and luck with Giant Jenga on the lawn. All this played off as we found delight in the shade with chilled Pinotage Rose.
In the words of Delheim winemaker, Altus Treurnicht; “Show me a product made by many people’s hard work, sweat, and knowledge that can be enjoyed now or after a decade amongst friends and family, and still leave one amazed by the flavours and taste.”
“For me, the Harvest Parade highlights how the making of wine begins long before fruit arrives at the cellar and wine goes into the bottle. The occasion reflects the vibe and excitement for harvest and what the new vintage will bring us.” (original quote)
If you ever get the chance to see and share in the Harvest Festival, or any wine tasting in Stellenbosch, grab it with both hands. Or with one, actually, and keep the spare for holding your camera and alternating with a glass of Stellenboschs’ Finest.
Don’t miss any of the wine festival action and buy tickets now at www.webtickets.co.za. For more information visit www.wineroute.co.za; contact Tel: +27.21 886 8275, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.