15 January 2011 by Robyn Campbell

Pick a harvest festival

Across the Cape winelands, the wicker baskets are out, wine cellars are being prepped, and wine workers are getting ready for the busiest time of year. Even the tractors are revved up because from January to April in the Cape it’s harvest time!

Now while harvest mean loads of jolly hard work for the people who live and work on the wine farms, to you and me it means 3 months of non-stop festival enjoyment across the Western Cape.  2011’s been a bumper grape crop so be ready for some romp stomping harvest fun!

I’ve listed a few of my fave festivals, but there are dozens to choose from, so if you don’t fancy having wine-stained feet then choose a relaxed picnic or braai outdoors with live music, activities for the kids (grape-stained everything is likely), or an elegant food and wine pairing in the convivial company of other wine lovers.

Delheim in Stellenbosch is usually among the first wine estates to kick-off the harvest festival season in January. Team grape stomp relay races (now that’s got to be a whole mess of fun), or lazy afternoons listening to live jazz, and grazing on gourmet picnic baskets are the order of the day.

Robertson Hands-on Harvest
For 2 days in February, people who for most of the year regard harvesting as a trip to the fresh produce section in their local supermarket, rush off to Robertson to have a er, …grape time.

Activities range from grape picking, bunch sorting, and obligatory stomping, to grape juice vs. wine tastings. Groups are kept small and intimate so you’ll have a full-on experience, complete with sticky hands and feet, occasional sunburn or hay fever and more fun than you’ve had in yonks!

Durbanville Feast of the Grape
Signalling the end of the grape season and the beginning of autumn, in March, Durbanville vineyards pull out all the stops in welcoming visitors to their annual harvest festival.

Taste fresh grape must (a treat only available at harvest time), or flop on the lawns of the various wine farms in the area and enjoy cheese and wine platters, picnics, spit braais, wine making, and wine tasting - horizontal or vertical - as you prefer.

Franschhoek Oesfees
This 1-day blowout bash in April celebrates more than great grapes. Free to all Franschhoek valley farm workers it’s a genuine “Thank You” to the men and women who bring in the harvest.

A celebration of Cape heritage bar none, the only thing more delicious than the Dutch colonial, Cape Malay, and Khoe dishes is the Cape vernacular music.

Happy harvest everyone!

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