The road to Bonnievale is lined with kilometers of flowers, boasting this amazing splash of colour. It already puts you in a good mood and gets you ready for the adventure that awaits. This valley offers you beautiful wine and fruit farms and majestic mountains on the one side and the Breede river following you all the way untill you reach the unpretentious town of Bonnievale itself.
Reading about this charming, peaceful town, I found this touching story about the family that founded Bonnievale. Christopher Forrest Rigg was born in Scotland and named Bonnievale in memory of his Grandfathers home in Scotland.
Riggs and his wife, Lilian lsobel Elizabeth Moon, had a pretty seven year old daughter, Mary Myrtle who loved to play in the lucerne fields near her home. When Myrtle contracted meningitis in 1911, she asked her dad on her deathbed, to build her a small church. Her dad kept his promise and built this small church in her memory. Myrtle was buried in her favourite playground, the lucerne fields next to the Myrtle Rigg Memorial church. Mary Myrtle Rigg Church is the only church in the world known to be built at the request of a child.
It is a beautiful church and you can visit the church and Myrtle's grave alongside that of her parents and grandparents. It is small towns like Bonnievale and stories and places like this that makes exploring so exciting for me. Bonnievale will now be more than only a wine area to me, it is a place of solitude and home to a beautiful girl with her own church.
On our Valentines weekend away in Bonnievale we stayed in an old workers cottage on the Weltevrede Wine Estate. It is very romantic and private and they surprise you with a bottle of wine and grape juice in the fridge and freshly baked rusks with your morning coffee.
Now, this is a place where the only thing you can do is relax. You just sit on your verandah with a glass of wine in the hand overlooking the Breederiver and the vineyards. It is picture perfect. It was a hot weekend and with the glistening river in front of us, it tempted us to go for a swim. It was glorious!
The main reason for going to Bonnievale is for the wine! Quando Boutique Wine Estate has always produced some of my favourite wines.
Fanus and Martin Bruwer believe in hands-on winemaking with a focus on quality rather than quantity. These brothers taste and rack their wines according to the moon. They say that with the full moon all the flavours on the nose are much more pronounced because the moon 'pulls' the flavours out of the wine and with new moon the wine is more stable for racking, which means less filtration.
“… we have the time to nurture our grapes and handle our wines as gentle as possible to create something special and unique”
The story of the name Quando: Friends kept on asking the brothers when they will make wine, so they decided they will call their wine Quando – 'when' in Italian! Just think of the song, 'Quando, Quando, Quando!' The lyrics sound like my love affair with wine!
'Tell me when will you be mine
Tell me quando quando quando
We can share a love divine
Please don't make me wait again'
To put you in the mood, listen to Michael Buble's version of the song here: Quando,Quando,Quando
Visiting Springfield Estate in Robertson, I have to say my highlight was tasting the Thunderchild. It is a wine that touches your palate and your heart. I fell in love with the label and the story behind it. Thunderchild is a wine made for an orphanage and children's home in town and 100% of the profits goes to the children of this orphanage. And what makes it more special is that 100% of the grapes used, grows in the vineyards next to the The Herberg Children's Home.
The maiden vintage of Thunderchild was produced by Abrie Bruwer of Springfield Estate and as they go forward other winemakers in the area will act as custodians of Thunderchild.
Why the name Thunderchild?
“The name Thunderchild accurately describes the orphans in the most beautiful way – the wonderful power of nature. They are nature’s wonders who fight through thundering clouds to overcome darkness with the light and beauty and power of an electrical storm. They are true Thunderchildren.”
Bonnievale is such a pretty, peaceful place to get away to. There is a lot of things to do from visiting museums and winefarms to boat trips on the Breede river. But you can also just sit on the verandah with a bottle of local wine and take in nature. Perfect place to read some poetry of Breyton Breytenbach. He was born in 1939 in Bonnievale and is widely recognized as one of South Africa's leading poets.
Bonnievale's name is a perfect description of this valley. Bonnie = Pretty and Vale = Valley!