Bot River Barrels & Beards Festival 2018
Run with the bull this year at none other than Bot River Barrels & Beards on Saturday, April 21, when - for the first time ever - this most majestic beast takes centre stage at a Cape winelands shindig like no other.
The bull referred to here, is the bull in the Bot River Wine Route logo: the link to Bot River’s very foundation. Amongst the Khoisan people, the valley was once called Gouga – the place of cattle; the Dutch made the connection to butter, which led to its modern name. In this sense, the bull represents fertility, virility, leadership and strength. More importantly, it connects the history of all inhabitants of the region for possibly over 1 000 years; a symbol of the meeting of diverse cultures; and, the sense of place offered in every glass of Bot River wine wherever it may be enjoyed around the world.
The occasion centres around the auction: the sale of truly special Bot River wines. The auction benefits various school-level educational projects in the region. The meal itself, known as the Botriviera dinner, is a feast of local produce.
This year guests will be able to feast on the food of the valley with tables brimming with local produce and specialties.
As for the beards, the tale of how infuriating stubble became tradition begins like most – by chance. The grape harvest waits for no-one – when the fruit is ripe, it must be picked and taken to the cellar. There’s little time for sleep, but it’s a festive time nonetheless as Mother Nature reveals the proof of the preceding season’s work. Time-consuming activities like shaving must take a backseat too, so beards in the vineyards and cellar are not unusual at this time of year.
Some eight years ago, Luddite winemaker Niels Verburg declared a challenge to his colleagues in what might also be known as The Great Bot River Beard-off. The challenge has stuck and become a tradition. Now, the winemakers of the close-knit wine region deliberately undertake a self-imposed shaving ban during harvest in preparation for the annual Beard Parade – a contest of great inconsequence and almighty mirth. Some (gasp!) may even cultivate a particular style for this climax of Barrels & Beards.
The 2018 Bot River Barrels & Beards will take place at Wildekrans Wine Estate on Saturday, 21 April at 5pm and tickets cost R450 per adult.
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