By Balbina Hürttlen
Hi, I’m Balbina Hürttlen, owner and manager from GUBAS DE HOEK ****meet, eat, sleep
in Robertson in the Breede River Valley. I ♥ Robertson because it’s a safe SMALL TOWN with a BIG HEART!
ROBERTSON IS BEST KNOWN FOR … in The Heart of Western Cape and Route 62, with 150 years of history, Robertson has grown into one of the most attractive Cape Winelands towns and is best known for the Victorian buildings, Jacaranda-lined streets, beautiful gardens and certainly their wines, fruits, olives, cheese and horses. With 355 days of sun shine and together with Ashton, Bonnievale, McGregor, Montagu, the Robertson Wine Valley offers a wide range of ‘Big Five’ activities …
I ♥ Robertson
BEST PHOTOGRAPHS: Take your time and get your pictures by watching the people, whether they’re working in the orchards, making arts and crafts, selling products at the markets or in one of the various little shops. For a landscape picture, travel the flower fringed Route 317 from Robertson to Bonnievale, which is mentioned to be the most beautiful flower wine route in the world. Thank you from my side to all the people, who are taking care of that beauty! In November, when the Jacaranda’s are in blossom, you can just stop and take photos of this pretty sight.
I ♥ Robertson
WHEN THE WEATHER’S GOOD, which you can say it is 355 days a year, the valley offers a huge variety and it just depends on my mood, which option I prefer to visit:
Nature & Scenic: Scenic drives, game drives, nature reserves, botanical gardens and mazes, bird and wine routes, historical towns and walks, horse carriage and river cruises.
Adventure & Sport: Mountain biking, cycling, hiking, kloofing, horse riding, river rafting, tractor trips and there’s even 18 holes Silwerstrand golf course nearby. Nordic walking in Robertson (and people are still looking at me!!).
Wine & Dine: Wine and Brandy-tasting, often with the wine makers, in more than 50 wine estates. I’ve lived here since 2005 and still haven’t managed to visit all of them. I also get my husband to spoil me with fine dining at GUBAS DE HOEK or we visit the various restaurants, wine estates, café’s and markets in the town.
Culture & Heritage: Various galleries, arts and crafts, museums, historical walk about, antique shops, great country hospitality, meet the people …
Entertainment & Leisure: Four amazing festivals (see below), Biodiversity projects, Oldtimer tours.
I ♥ Robertson
WHEN THE WEATHER’S BAD, I LIKE TO read a nice book in our lounge with a burning fire in the open fire place or I visit a museum, or one of the various little shops and have a cup of coffee. By the way, a German saying is ‘There is no bad weather, just bad clothes’!
I THINK THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT the Robertson Wine Valley is throughout the year, because in early spring, the flowers from the Fynbos and the first fruit orchards are in blossom and the vines are starting to sprout – and in November when the Jacarandas are in full purple bloom, Robertson is just beautiful. In summer it can get very hot and it is the busy season, but, the Festive Season in Robertson is for all people, who want to avoid the hustle and bustle. It’s wonderful – nice and quite, because everybody goes to the sea and our German / South African Christmas at GUBAS DE HOEK is becoming quite famous!
The red cannas and the whole flower and wine route are in full blossom now. Soon after that, it’s harvesting time, everybody is busy, you’ll see the people working in the vines and you’re looking forward to the first new wines. It won’t take long and you’re in autumn, when the leaves are changing colour slowly and a cycling tour through the valley is just beautiful. Winter is the time where you’re enjoying a cosy nice fire place and soon you’ll realize, the Karoo is in blossom again. All activities are available throughout the whole year and it’s in everybody’s decision what temperature he / she prefers. The golfer’s, for instance, appreciate the agreeable weather from March to October, because there’s hardly any wind.
I ♥ Robertson
MY FAVOURITE BREAKFAST SPOT IS certainly the garden of our guest house, but in town, Grand Café is always well worth a visit.
FOR LUNCH I suggest one of the various wine estates along the route 317, for example Bon Courage, or a cruise with a pick-nick or a cheese platter tasting.
MY FAVOURITE EATING PLACE IS Günther’s cuisine in our lounge or in the garden, or for those who are passionate about cooking, they can stay in our kitchen and have a look in the pots and pans! If I want a real wineland experience then Fraai Uitzicht is always a good choice, the food and service is very good and the views from the terrace are stunning. In town, for those who like it upmarket, Reubens restaurant is also a good choice. For families with children, Dros might be a good choice.
MY FAVOURITE SPORT IS an early morning hike with the Nordic walking sticks along the streets in Robertson and suddenly it can happen that somebody sees you and invites you just for a cup of early morning coffee …
FOR A NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN always ask your hosts for the latest local events, where to go, otherwise in the countryside, people enjoy their gardens and their braai’s.
ROBERTSON’S BEST KEPT SECRET IS … a Secret!
Gubas De Hoek Team!
MY FAVOURITE THING TO DO WITH FRIENDS IS sitting in the garden, having a chat, good food and a nice glass of wine. The local art society offers throughout the whole year a program which is often taken place in one of the wine estates.
TO RELAX AND RESTORE MY SOUL, I LIKE TO take a drive along the Route 317 to Bonnievale or to Mc Gregor and pop in at one of the wine estates. The stunning beauty of the landscape does this for free and no need for an expensive Spa treatment!
IF YOU’RE FEELING ADVENTUROUS, let us go for a wonderful hike to the waterfall, for an out riding with horses, enjoy a game drive with André or paddle on the river with a canoe.
MY FAVOURITE HIKES ARE … that depends on the time and on the weather. Kleinberg Trail or Vrolijkheid in McGregor, Fish Eagle Trail at Van Loveren or the 2 days Arangieskoop Trail all are beautiful. In fact, there are so many hiking trails, that you can easily spend two to three weeks without going on a trail twice.
MY FAVOURITE SHOP IS AH Marais – there you’ll meet wonderful people and you’ll get anything for building. The Robertson Garden Centre, Spar or Pick’n Pay and beside that, stroll along Robertson, Bonnievale, or Mc Gregor – there are so many little shops, specially for antique fans, which are worthwhile to pop in and to meet the wonderful people.
MY FAVOURITE BUILDINGS ARE the Victorian Beauty in Van Reenen Street and next to it the Cape Dutch House, the elegant De Wetshof Estate building with the wonderful tree-lined street, the modern Graham Beck wine estate, because it combines nature with architecture. From the tasting room in the first floor you have a stunning few.
TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN? Then certainly Birds Paradise is a must and you’ll enjoy how easy children can play together, the donkey sanctuary on the way to Mc Gregor, Bon Courage and Ashton Cellar are offering play grounds or join a river rafting.
IF YOU ARE HERE IN … The Robertson Wine Valley is proud of their festivals and was judged Best Innovative Wine Tourism Experience by Global Wine Tourism Experts. Robertson is the First South African Wine Route Organisation to receive this significant award from the Great Wine Capitals Global Network, of which Cape Town is one of eight member Capitals. RWV received this award at a gala dinner awards ceremony held in late November 2009 in Bordeaux. The event was attended by tourism specialists, dignitaries and producers from wine-growing regions in Europe, North America, Latin America, South Africa and New Zealand.
I ♥ Robertson
The four wine events, in date order, are:
Hands-On Harvest in February is a boutique event which offers wine aficionados and budding vintners the opportunity to experience the ‘magic of harvest’ for a day and visitors are able to make their own barrel of wine.
Wacky Wine Weekend in June is an event where all member farms open up their doors for a variety of fun activities.
Robertson Slow in August is a more sedate and leisurely collection of activities at wine farms across the Valley and seeks visitors who want to experience the traditional way of farming life in intimate and personal settings and it ends with a wonderful farmers market.
Robertson Wine on the River is a vibrant annual riverside festival to instant popularity and acclaim. More than 200 wines from over 40 wineries are on show for tasting and sale.
Every first Saturday of the month the museum invites for a morning market. Art and crafts is a big theme here and a lot of galleries are exposing local artists and you can meet them by appointment.
BEST CHEAP AND CHEERFUL OUTING IS a nice hike or visit the various wineries for a free wine tasting and find your favourite wine. The ladies will then gladly assist you with your order. My guests and I also love to visit a church service in Paddy Street and listen to the wonderful singers.
WHEN MONEY’S NO OBJECT you can give it to the Children’s Home and you’ll feel great!
THE MOST UNUSUAL THING I SEE here is that people can be very happy with very little and still help each other.
MY FAVOURITE WEEKEND GETAWAY IS a daytrip to Cape Town, to Hermanus or to the West Coast and then I’m glad to come back to Robertson, the ‘Small Town with the Big Heart’.
WHEN I WANT TO GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY … I give back to the community, because our team participate in our success and so we’ll keep on trying to start several projects to support the people, for example we give a choir the platform to sing for our guests.
I ♥ ROBERTSON BECAUSE it is our home and you have the chance to share it with us at GUBAS DE HOEK ****meet, eat, sleep.