Asking about my favourite wine is, I imagine, a bit like asking a mother to name her favourite kid. It’s tricky to comment, because I love them all. But if you got all insistent about it, I’d probably have to admit that Riesling is right up there. I love it dry. I love it off-dry. I just adore it in a honey-sweet Noble Late Harvest.

In South Africa Riesling is sadly not as common as the other noble varietals. But the Rieslings we do have – WOW. I am of course a bit of a wine festival groupie, but my absolute favourite by miles is the annual Riesling Rocks festival on the Hartenberg estate on the outskirts of Stellenbosch.

Why do I love it so? Reason #1: It’s far more intimate than other festivals. No having to arm-wrestle your way to the front of the pack to get a snifter. There are just enough people for it to feel gemütlich, and not so many that I feel claustrophobic and get ratty.

Reason #2: Set in Hartenberg’s gorgeous picnic area (read my post on their picnics here) under huge oak trees, this is also a much more laid back festival than most others. There are picnic tables, but folks also bring blankies and pillows, and settle in for the day.

Reason #3: And then of course there’s the wine. In previous years The Riesling Rocks festival featured Rieslings from pretty much every local Riesling producer. But this year, you’re in for an extra treat because you’ll be able to taste other rare varietals like Gewürtztraminer, Viognier and Semillon too.


Riesling & Rarities Rock Festival: 31 January 2015, Hartenberg


Tickets to the event cost R120. This gives you a glass and access to the tastings. As in previous years there will be loads of lovely nibbles like charcuterie, terrines from Joostenberg, Mediterranean delicacies and more. If you want to have the work done for you, pre-order a Hartenberg picnic basket at R150 per person (I can recommend them!). Tickets are available online at

Whatever you had planned for Saturday the 31st of January, cancel it and hoof it on over to the Riesling and Rarities Rock Festival. It’s the highlight of my summer wine festival season. See you there!



Bottelary Road, Stellenbosch


31 January 2015




About this article: I only write about places and things I actually really like. Should I receive complimentary meals/tickets/diamonds, this will always be revealed. I’m not in the rubbishing business, so if something is not my cup of tea, I’ll simply not write about it (but I’ll keep the diamonds). Therefore this is not so much a review, as a personal recommendation of places and things I like. Living in Cape Town, I focus mainly on the Western Cape, and I can only cover so many places (there is that troublesome thing of trying to make a living, after all). This is where I need your help. Please share your favourite markets, festivals, restaurants and wine tasting experiences from all over the country with others by using the ‘COMMENTS’ section below.


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