Van Loveren is South Africa's biggest family-owned winery and it's been around since 1937. The first wine (a red muscadel) was produced in 1939 by Hennie Retief Sr, however, it was only in 1980 that the first bottled Van Loveren wine was released. Hennie Retief Sr had two sons, named Nico and Wynand, and, from the mid 1990s, their four sons joined the farm one after the other as they completed their studies. Today, they are known as the four cousins and they are responsible for running the company.
I last visited Van Loveren years ago and remember sitting outside at tables in the garden. While you tasted their wines, (which often involved leaving a bottle on the table for you), you were brought the most delicious sweetcorn fritters to snack on. However, they have now built a modern tasting venue and things are very different now 🙂
Also, you now have the option of walking around the garden in either a self-guided or guided tour. Here, you'll be able to look at the various trees that were planted by Jean Retief since 1939. Each tree (in this tour) was planted to commemorate something special: be a it family, political or historical occasion. You can pick up a leaflet from the tasting venue that includes the trees in the tour and explains each of their stories.
As mentioned above, you can either do a self-guided or a guided tour. The guided tour lasts for 30 minutes and costs R45, which includes a glass of bubbly. I would recommend that you do a guided tour if you are into such things. On the day we visited, the usual guide was not there, so we attempted to do the self-guided tour. We found some of the trees but could not find a few of them, so we gave up and simply walked around the beautiful garden instead (see below).
The garden is truly remarkable and there are so many beautiful flowers to look at (see below).
We wandered around for quite a while and found, in particular, really pretty roses of various colours. The garden is so peaceful and it's quite easy to spend a good hour or so having a look at everything.
After our walk, we headed towards the tasting venue for our wine pairing. We chose to sit outside (see below) for our tasting as the weather was lovely, but I think if you sit inside, you'll get an explanation of each of the wines you are tasting.
Van Loveren has various options to choose from for the wine pairings, ranging from a cheese and wine pairing to a chocolate and wine pairing.
The Husband and I opted for pairings we had not tried before. The Husband had the Five's Reserve tasting (see below) for R55. This includes the following:
Cranberry health bar
I quite enjoyed these pairings. I found it unusual to start with a sweet pairing and then end on a savoury one, but it worked quite well. I liked the Merlot Rosé with the cranberry bar the best, but also enjoyed the spiciness that the peri-peri nuts brought out in the Pinotage.
I opted for the Rhino Run pairing (see below), also for R55. This pairing option includes the following:
Ian Player (Blend of Cab Sauv and Merlot)
Fresh ciabatta bread
Selection of Charcuterie
I don't think the idea here was to pair a particular food with a particular wine, but rather to try each food with each wine and see which you enjoyed the most. I was not so much of a fan of the nutty stuff, but I loved the meats and the olive oil. And I found that they paired well with all the wines. I really enjoyed the pinotage!
Although we loved the wine pairings, (sitting outside), I think perhaps we would have been able to learn more about those particular wines if we had sat inside. But, if you're keen on just relaxing and quietly enjoying your pairing, then sitting outside is ideal. It's kid-friendly and they even have a kiddies pairing option with grape juice! 🙂
Thank you so much to Mira from Hot Oven Marketing for arranging this for us! It's such a beautiful venue with some really great wines and pretty, well-maintained gardens.
Contact: +27 23 61 51505
Address: Van Loveren Family Wines, R317, Robertson, 6707
Star Rating: ****