The Cut ‘n’ Paste Stellenbosch Wine Festival Comes to Cape Town
Experience 3.5 Festivals & Events Wine 3.5

The Cut ‘n’ Paste Stellenbosch Wine Festival Comes to Cape Town

STELLENBOSCH WINE FESTIVAL
Sun
day 7 April 2019
http://www.stellenboschwinefestival.co.za/

Experience: 3.5/5
Wines: 3.5/5

I missed the Stellenbosch Wine Festival at its usual home on the Coetzenburg Sports Ground in Stellenbosch this year. I was not too bothered as I had been to the event in 2017 and 2018. It was not until after, however, that announcement was made that the Festival was moving to Cape Town for the weekend of 6/7 April. I decided thus to go for 2 reasons: one, to make up for the one missed and, two, to see how the Festival translocated to the Mother City.

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Tickets for the 2-day event (shortened from the usual 3 days) were R150 for General Entry that included a wine glass, 20 tasting coupons, wines at reduced prices, live music and food for sale. Food pairing workshops were given by some of the top wine estates in the Pick ‘n’ Pay Tasting Room. I heard that the Festival Saturday was sold out and so went on the Sunday.

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Entry to the Festival V&A Waterfront location in North Wharf beside the Aquarium was easy to find and access, especially with ample city parking close by. I presented my ticket and picked up my tasting glass and 20 cork ‘tasting coupons’. My first impression as I walked on the green Astroturf covering – a nice touch and, I guess, an attempt to recreate something of the sports field vibe – was how the layout was a cut ‘n’ paste copy of the Coetzenburg set up.

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

The 42 wine estates were grouped into the same 5 Stellenbosch ‘wards’ as before and with the same colour-coded signs: Greater Simonsberg, Stellenbosch Berg, Stellenbosch Valley, Helderberg, and Bottelary Hills. The marquée stands were the same too and, I suspect, many of the staffs also as in previous years. Overall, there were fewer wine farms attending (there were 60 in Stellenbosch last year) and so, as ever, a mix of familiar and new estates.

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Each winery is restricted to 5 wines – usually 3 white and 2 red or 2 white and 3 red – which has its limitations. It means that most have to play safe and bring their popular sellers – Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Merlot, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Rhône or Bordeaux style blend – and from the lifestyle to mid-level wine ranges. I did notice and taste lesser know varieties such as Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese but these were few and far between. Delheim brought the newest wine, their 2019 Pinotage Rosé.

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

I have now tasted and reviewed 48 Stellenbosch wine estates which equated to about half of those exhibiting their wines. Being my third Stellenbosch Wine Festival too, there was not the need or impetus to rush around each stand and so, instead, I was able to be more selective. I chose to visit a mix of estates I had been to, to network, and ones I want to visit soon. There were some specific wines also that I wanted to taste and/or buy. The wines I tasted are all listed at the end of this article.

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

There was much to be said for the new location, a brave and exciting decision, but some drawbacks too. The R150 entry fee and the chance to taste 20 wines (in theory at least as some tastings needed more than 2 tokens) from a total of 220 wines is excellent value for money. The signposting was as good as ever albeit the linear, parallel arrangement with stands facing each other and the finite space meant for a cramped experience. I left at around 3.00pm, having arrived at the opening time of 12.00pm, and the venue was already getting uncomfortable. I wonder how it would have left towards the end of the day at 6.00pm when more alcohol had been consumed.

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Most of the winery staffs were working on one day of the weekend and so it was difficult to get a feel for the difference in vibe between the Saturday and Sunday. The common perspective from those who had was that there were fewer ‘student drinkers’ on the Saturday and that, overall, the Cape Town venue provided for the more serious and enthusiast drinker than at the Stellenbosch location. Casual observation suggested that 80% of those attending were Capetonian.

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

The knowledge level at the different stalls varied widely, ranging from Winemaker or Tasting Room Manager to hired student who, perhaps, helped out last year. It never ceases to amaze that even big name wine estates leave their brand and reputation in the hands of a ‘pourer’ with no knowledge or passion for their estate. It is perhaps for this reason inter alia that sales were much reduced (to 25% or 30%) of those gained at the Coetzenburg Sports Ground in Stellenbosch.

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

The advantage of the North Wharf and Waterfront setting was the central location (for Capetonians) and the iconic Table Mountain and docks backdrop. The drawback, as already explained, was that there was none of the space to spread out for a more comfortable experience and a much larger Food Court. I barely saw more than a few food trucks and the Pick ‘n’ Pay food sample area although, of course, there is endless choice in the nearby VandA Food Market and Waterfront cafes and restaurants. Nonetheless, a decent attempt had been made to provide as much seating as possible.

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

I wondered as I left if there were more spacious locations in the Mother City. There might be space close to the Oranjezicht Urban Market in Granger Bay or even the Castle, where the Cape Town Flower Show was held before the drought put an end to it. There is obvious space and parking at both the CTICC Convention Centre and the Cape Town Stadium, used only last month for the Cycle Tour Expo – Pick ‘n’ Pay is a major sponsor for this event too – and 2 weeks ago for the Ed Sheeran concerts. Festival economics aside, there are pros and cons for each venue. There is the Grand West Casino too that is used for the tops at Spar Wine Show. Limiting numbers, or holding the Festival in Cape Town for 3 days are other considerations to relieve visitor pressure.

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

I shall be interested to see whether the 2019 Festival is a once-off experiment or is repeated again and for many years. My take on it is that bringing the Stellenbosch wine farms to Cape Town was a bold and adventurous step. I am sure that the Franschhoek and ‘cool climate’ Elgin/Walker Bay regions will have had half an eye on the event. Cape Town certainly provided a superb setting – for Capetonians and the Instagrammers – but was too constricted and offers little scope for growth at the North Wharf location. Stellenbosch is only an hour away and so not great effort to travel to during the weekend.

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

In closing, I wonder if I had to choose whether to go to the 2020 Wine Festival in Stellenbosch or Cape Town where I would go. As things stand, and assuming use of the same Mother City location again, I would pick and pay to go to Stellenbosch. But then, if there was a larger and more spacious Cape Town venue, I might be tempted otherwise …..

Wines tasted (bought *):

White:

2017 Hartenberg Riesling – R120
2017 Idiom Heritage Bianco di Stellenbosch Pinot Grigio – R110*
2016 Idiom Viognier – R198
2017 Stellenrust Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 53 – R210

Rosé:

2019 Delheim Pinotage Rosé – R120

Red:

2017 Hartenberg Merlot – R200
2015 Hartenberg The Stork Shiraz – R700
2018 Delheim Gewürztraminer – R165
2014 Deux Frères Mourvèdre (1.5l) – R250
2013 Haskell Aeon Syrah – R205 (reduced from R350) FAVOURITE WINE
2016 Idiom Heritage Rossi di Stellenbosch (97% Sangiovese, 3% Barbera) – R110
2018 Morgenster Sangiovese – R110*
2016 Morgenster Cabernet Franc – R110*
2017 Waterford Estate Elgin Pinot Noir – R295
2016 Vriesenhof Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre – R90
2015 Vriesenhof Kallista (40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Franc) – R260
2017 Overgaauw Merlot – R390
2016 Spier Creative Block 3 (93% Shiraz, 4% Mourvèdre, 3% Viognier) – R159
2016 Spier Creative Block 5 (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec) – R159

Stellenbosch Wine Festival

You Might Also Like

Superb Views of Guardian Peak

Idiom Puts on a Festival Master Class

Posh Spice in Franschhoek!

In the Garage in the Heart of McGregor

Wagons to the Cellar at Waboomsrivier

The Italian Collection at the Vineyard

Wines That Don’t Cost The Earth

Dis-gorgeous at Weltevrede

Style or Substance? Nitida left Me Wondering

Barrels of Fun at My First Stellenbosch Street Soirée

Peter Falke Didn’t Knock my Socks Off

Surprisingly Good – and Not Only for the Red Bus Tourists

Intimate, Tranquil and Refined

Mutual Attraction

Hope Brought to the Vineyard

Family Fun at the Greek Harvest Festival

The Terroir is Honoured in the Bottle at Springfield

Vrede en Lust Struggled to Reveal it’s Delight

Bartinney Clings to the Mountain

iWine rather than IMAX at the Cape Gate Mall

Mulderbosch didn’t quite Meet the Yardstick

Wines from the Orchards at Le Pommier

Wheels Turn Full ‘Cycle’ at Meerendal

Kept Alone at Kaapzicht

Elegant Wines Kiss the Lips in the Vineyard

Sip Sip Sip and Drip Drip Drip at Domaine des Dieux

One Day, Three Tastings, Five Wines and Seven Sisters

A Lekker Jol at Wandsbeck

More Still at Tanagra

Langverwacht Introduced Me to Ruby Cabernet

At the Bend in the Road in Bot River

The Vineyard Hotel a Classic Vehicle to Showcase L’Ormarins Wines

Grand Wines at the Big Top!

My Best Blend at Zandvliet

Superb Whites in the Near Dark at Mont Blois

Honest, Affordable Family Wines at Landskroon

Graham Beck MCCs Fizzled Out

Trading Wines in the City Bowl

Value for Money at Van Zylshof

Libby Would not have been Proud of Linton Park

Bushmanspad Gave Me the Weirdest Tasting Ever

River Grandeur at Viljoensdrift

Champagne and Brandies left Me Disappointed

Late at Lateganskop

Allez les Boks – Pas les Bleues!

There’s No Gun Smoke Without Wine

Rivergold is a Gem Waiting to be Discovered

2018 Wacky Wine Ends at Le Roux & Fourie

Family Fun in Pairs at Four Cousins

Relaxing Rosendal

Windfall Offered Unexpected Delights

Scary Jan Harmsgat Delivers Elegant Wines

Try as I Could I Did not Find Waterkloof Wines Dynamic

Busy, Bubbly, Noisy Wonderfontein

Magnifico – Grazie Mille Idiom!

Robertson – Town by Name, Wine by Name

PicknPay Pairs it again at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Baby Thrown Out with the Bath Water?

A Quando-ary: When to Drink …?

Rijk Tulbagh Gives Name to Cellar and Town

Noble Wines without the Rot

Where’s the Grande in Provence?

Wacky – not Tacky – in Robertson

Where Eagles Care

Mixed Spice at the Pinotage Festival

Bon Courage and Bon Voyage

Maiden Visit to Lord’s Bowled Me Over

Waterf-ord More Ord-inary Than Extra-ord-inary

Malverne Dis-Clos-ed

Pick n Taste Time at Stellenbosch

Cabernet Franc – Well Worth a Gamble!

Proudly Keeping it in the Family at Paul Cluver – or Not?

Grape Fun – Stomping Well Worth the Journey!

More Plaisir at de Merle Please!

Decent Wines Rock from the Pulpit

Cabsolutely Frankulous at the Carnival

Bracing Brakes on the Red Wines at Remhoogte

Haven Rather than Heaven at La Bri

View from the E-Skaap-ment

House Wine from the Wine Tram

Summer Whites …… and Rosés

Eq-wine – Fine Wines and Fast Horses!

Hand at Work Handiwork at Boschrivier Wines

A Kleine Experience at Zalze

In the Highlands in the Lowlands of Elgin

The Early Bird Catches the Wine

Wine Notes Composed at D’Aria

Heaven and Earth Create a Costly Pairing

Horsepower in the Vineyard

Yanky Doodle Dave Didn’t Bring all the Wines

Purring at the Wines in Tyger Valley

Slave to the Rhythm at Solms-Delta

Red Chair in the Morning

Joy at Really Tasting the Difference at Esona

Pinotage Hits a Purple Patch in Paarl

Masses of Fun and a little Chaos at the Ambeloui Harvest Festival

Nala Wines are Well Engineered in the Vineyard

All is Not Lost in a Safe Port

Woody Wildekrans

Judge and be Judged!

An Early Start at Rietvallei

Excelsior Blends Quality with Price

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *