Plett’s eclectic offering builds year-round appeal
We should have been hosting the fifth Plett Wine & Bubbly Festival in its new harvest time slot – around about now – but firm promises of support from the local authority frustratingly fizzled out. Notwithstanding the financial, reputational and employment cost, we are pushing hard to source commercial partners, and are reinventing the festival model to broaden its appeal. We are working with the Plett Winelands and will return, bigger and better, on the 27th and 28th March,2020.This edition of Plett Wine & Food will give you a taste of our rapidly growing agritourism sector and a restaurant spread which is offering something for everyone. Importantly, food and wine tourism – traveling to taste and get a sense of the place being visited – is becoming an attraction in Plett on its own. Plett Wine & Food is one of our four tourism pillars, coming after our iconic Plett Summer and preceding Plett Culture & Heritage and Plett Adventure & Nature.
The Plett Wine & Bubbly Festival’s importance is much more than anchoring a season and attracting visitors. It is the shop window for the increasingly important agritourism sector. And so, the next festival will mirror a wider table of products, and includes olives, honeybush tea and macadamia nuts, and perhaps craft beer brewed in Plett. Our wine industry is maturing. Our wines and bubbly are winning more than their share of recognition and there is continued investment in boutique estates, each with their distinctive ambience and style.
And there are value adding leisure activities complementing the wine farms, including cycling and horseriding trails connecting farms. For something different and really comfortable, go by horse-drawn carriage between certain of the farms or use Plett Wine Tours. Remember, local wines are available for purchase at Beacon Isle Kwikspar, Thyme & Again and the Tuinroete Agri store as well as at select restaurants.
There are also a growing number of independent wine farm events at wine estates – music events, the Plett Truck & Vine Festival at Kay & Monty and Newstead’s Summer Solstice – not to mention many weddings! Wine estates are also extending their brands, with premium preserves, biscuits, photography and jewellery. Wine farms are starting to experiment with other grape varieties which include Shiraz, Petit Verdot, Durif and Semillon blend – watch this space for the emergence of new wines.
Honeybush tea has taken a giant leap forward too, in the shape of Bitou Honeybush Tea where more than 300 000 plants are nurtured above the banks of the Bitou River, yielding caffeine-free honeybush tea crafted according to ancient Khoisan tradition. Visit www.bitouhoneybush.com for more information.
There are around five farms now producing macadamia nuts, and together with olive trees, they are collectively changing the agricultural landscape in and around Plett. And inviting a new agri-tourism industry to develop at the same time. Nowhere is this more graphically captured than at Lodestone Wine & Olives in the Crags, which has vineyards, olives and honeybush tea on one estate. You will experience all this and more at next year’s Plett Wine & Bubbly Festival and you’ll also discover a small slice of Plett’s abundant food choice. It’s always been a diverse offering, from charcuterie to oysters, and recently there have been some exciting additions.
The Junction Hotel’s Café Pure is welcoming and contributes to a Main Street slowly rediscovering its culinary soul, and joins other Main Street eateries including LM, The Table, Clare’s Cakes, Ocean Basket, the Courtyard Café, Hola Café, Ghillies, Locals and 1989 on the one side, and DoubleShot Coffee Bar, Le Fournil, The Golden Palm, Baillies, The Med Seafood Bistro, and The Grand Africa Rooms & Rendezvous on the other. The Grand re-opened towards the end of last year after a refresh, and all eyes are on the soon to be renamed Equinox Restaurant and the Lookout Deck.
Elsewhere, Die Plaas has opened in New Horizons and offers crossover South African inspired dishes. In Kwano, you’ll find many of the who’s who at the trendy N2 Lounge at the Usave Centre, and Skhulu’z Lounge continues to be the heartbeat of a busy iKasi food scene. Kasi Lifestyle is another new entrant, along with Voorhuise which is already establishing a loyal following. There are, of course, dozens of other restaurants and taverns, and you can find a directory here.
Our beaches remain our primary drawcard, and Plett Summer our high season. But our strategy to smooth out the highs and lows is slowly paying off. We’ll be looking for the right commercial partners to help turn the next page.