Wineries make up an essential part of the Langeberg’s character. Drive the streets between, say, McGregor and Robertson, and vineyards are a prominent feature. But go beyond the wine farms of Kranskop, Van Loveren, Tanagra (we can go on…) and the area provides a diverse range of bucket-list enhancers.
Edna Fourie Gallery
It was the lack of traffic lights that drew artist Edna Fourie to McGregor. That and the feeling of peacefulness found in the 19th-century Langeberg village. ‘This peace is bigger than the sum of McGregor’s parts – the people, activities, architecture,’ she says.
And it was the silence that Edna craved in order to go deeper with her art; the idea of opening a gallery was an extension of this. ‘I chose to follow my own path instead of the commercial route because it allowed me to stay true to my own vision and pace,’ she explains. The paintings shown in her space on Voortrekker Street ‘tell the story of transformation, which is really the story of all of us.’
Her gallery is open Wednesdays (10am to 3pm), Saturdays (10am to 5pm) and Sundays (10am to 3pm) or by appointment if you prefer. Incidentally, it also forms part of the McGregor Art Route, formed by local artists. ‘It makes our village more visitor-friendly by providing a brochure with a map and relevant details about each art venue,’ Edna explains. Details can also be found online here.
While the Robertson Valley may be known for its wineries, Saggy Stone effectively counters this trend with its craft beer. The original plan for brothers Adrian and Phillip Robinson was to create wine from the grapes grown on their Nuy Valley farm, exporting the remaining fruit. But a change of direction was inadvertently imminent: while on holiday in Australia, Phillip was particularly drawn to the craft beer trend in the Margaret River area, south of Perth.
‘On return, he set to work with Adrian to brew 20-litre batches of beer, fermenting them in his daughters’ bedroom – which had the best temperature for lagering – until hitting upon their favourite style, the first one being California Steam,’ says general manager Jackie Robinson.
Saggy Stone has since grown into a full-on brewery and pub-style restaurant, located at the end of a 10km stretch of road and with intermittent cell signal. But, according to Jackie, that makes it more appealing. ‘It’s family friendly so parents can relax and enjoy the beer and food and company while the kids play and explore the orchards,’ she expands.
There’s also space for picnics and braais – wood, glasses, firelighters and cultery are available to hire – with live music adding to the atmosphere (the first Saggy Stone Beer & Music Festival is taking place on 11 and 12 February). Take a look at their website for their range of beers, made from spring water – which they believe sets it apart.
PS The name Saggy Stone comes from ‘a troop of overzealous baboons who once danced on the walls of Adrian’s gabion-style lapa, causing the stones to sag,’ says Jackie. ‘On inspection, his then 10-year-old daughter called it “The Saggy Stone Lapa”. The name stuck.’
Long Mountain Brewery
Named after the surrounding Langeberg mountain range, Long Mountain Brewery began from a dream of starting a microbrewery. Owner Craig Marson had spent almost two decades living in London – ‘drinking fabulous UK and continental beers,’ he says – but decided to return home in 2012 to bring that beer culture to Robertson.
Craft beer in particular allows for a much wider flavour and choice: ‘Imagine if we only had one variety of wine,’ says Craig. ‘We would be missing out on the reds, the bubbles, the sweet, the dry … beer can be all these things, too.’
Long Mountain Brewery’s range includes a Pale Ale with hop and malt flavours, an American Pale (‘it’s made with some big American bittering hops but it’s most like an English Best Bitter or Yorkshire Bitter,’ says Craig) and the easy-drinking Festival Pale and Festival Lager.
While there are numerous wineries, olive farms and orchards in the area, the number of breweries here is increasing, explains Craig – and ‘what better way to wind away your Sunday afternoon than to relax and enjoy the surrounding vistas at your guesthouse or restaurant with a cold glass or two of quality local beer.’
1. Esona – ‘the very one’ in Xhosa – a boutique winery and deli on the R317 between Robertson and Bonnievale offering tastings in their underground cellar.
2. Synergy for a long weekend away in McGregor. This restored country home includes an outdoor shower, garden with its own vineyard, a veranda under the red-and-white awning, wooden floors … and three cats.
3. Temenos to explore the labyrinth of garden paths, winding past bouganvillea and daisies, a statue of Buddha and weeping willows. The retreat means ‘a sacred space’ in Greek and provides a place of tranquility.
4. Rialheim for a variety of creative ceramics handmade on Clairvaux Estate in Robertson (see above right and opening image). Be sure to have a wander around the statue garden, too. Stores can also be found in the Cape Town CBD and in Linden, Joburg.
5. Exdiem for boutique wine and olive tasting on the owners’ farm in Klaasvoogds or a DIY pizza-making evening.
Words Kirsty Wilkins
Images Kirsty Wilkins and supplied