When faced with 3 long weeks of school holidays and husbands who don’t have flexi jobs or endless leave, one of my best mom friends and I made a joke about taking a trip together with our kids…
And then we made it a reality!
In the last week of the winter school holidays we crammed 2 moms, 4 very excited kids and all our luggage into my Toyota Verso and headed for the hills… or the valley. The Robertson Wine Valley!
Only to turn around less than 20 mins from home with a weird “wobbly” vibe happening to my car.
I thought I’d done everything right having sent my car in for a service only the week before, turns out if your car starts to shudder at around 100km/hour that you most likely need to check your wheel alignment. Now I know, and so do you! #MomPower
2 hours later, we were back on the N2 with 4 far less enthusiastic kids in tow, but feeling more empowered as woman and moms. We got this!!!
Our destination was the beautiful Robertson Wine Valley – less well-known than her pretty cousins, Franschhoek, Paarl and Stellenbosch, the wine valley of Robertson is emerging as a beauty worth noticing!
For the past few years we’ve headed to this area during summer to enjoy an annual camping trip with friends so I was quite familiar with the area, but when you’re camping you tend to stay in one spot – your camping chair. This time we’d be staying in 2 cottages on the Weltevrede wine farm in Bonnievale and exploring the area during the colder months…
Fortunately, although the surrounding mountains had been blanketed in snow only the week before, our visit happened to take place during a few days of glorious blue skies and warm winter sunshine. A real blessing as the prospect of keeping 4 lively kids happy for 2 days indoors with no toys or tv’s wasn’t that appealing!!
The first stop on our Mom & Kid tour was Excelsior Wine Estate. After an almost 5 hour journey (it doesn’t actually take that long, our car troubles were the problem!!) the kids were only to happy to stretch their legs on the lawns, visit the horses, swing to the sky and generally enjoy the outdoor space at this wine estate.
While us moms settled down on the deck of the unique water-side tasting area to enjoy some wine blending, the kids got on with it. Before we knew it, the 10-year-old boys had discovered a small boat on the lake, complete with oars, and off they went. Luckily we could watch all their antics from the deck and enjoyed seeing the teamwork that came into play, far better than a Xbox 2 player game! They loved the challenge and the fresh air seemed to work wonders for their moods as they were even persuaded to take their little sisters for a spin! Exactly the way to warm a mama’s heart!!
Suitably refreshed, we all headed off to find our home for the next 2 nights: Botterboom and Belvedere cottages at Weltevrede Wine Estate just outside Bonnievale.
Each family had their own space but we ended up spending most of our time together – using one kitchen to make meals and lighting a fire every evening to warm ourselves. We popped to the local shop to buy a few supplies but kept meals super easy – macaroni cheese, chicken burgers, ham rolls and lots of naartjies – this was meant to be a mom holiday too!
One of the biggest hits of the holiday was our nightly board game of Ticket to Ride. Each evening we paired up in a different way to avoid major meltdowns and had great fun introducing our friends to a new game and discovering a bit more about their personalities… games can really reveal a lot!
The kids loved the rolling lawns here… they rolled down them so much that they came away with bruises!! And us moms enjoyed the views. In every direction there was a scene worth of a landscape painting….
The next morning we headed off for a walk to explore more of the farm and headed towards the Weltevrede wine tasting area…
Along the way the boys collected pine cones for our fire kindling supply and when the first hints of boredom crept in we instituted a really fun scavenger hunt using the natural items all around. It was almost like they’d never seen a feather, an acorn or an orange leaf before, so excited were they to take part in the challenge. It just goes to show that you really don’t need to even pack toys or games for a family holiday!! Good old-fashioned games suffice (I’ll still allow the screens for the car trips. Those are sanity-savers!!!)
We’d been wine-tasting at Weltevrede before on our annual summer visit, but had no idea that hiding below us was an amazing secret….
An underground cement wine tank that’s been converted into the most incredible wine-tasting venue in South Africa…
This was a highlight for us all, after the first echoing screams died down, of course!
The moms sampled various wines from the estate, including the MCC, while the kids shared a bottle of grape juice between them.
We all loved this unique, beautiful experience and will definitely be back, with our husbands (the true wine lovers) next time!
Next stop on our tour was Viljoensdrift, another family favourite in the Robertson Wine Valley.
We were set to head off on the boat cruise down the Breede River, but had 30 mins before our departure, which was just enough time to sample some of the farm’s wines.
Thankfully the threatening clouds held off for us to fully enjoy this lovely experience in the sunshine. The river cruise is about 50 mins and really peaceful and relaxing (even with 4 kids!)
You can pack your own picnic from the Viljoensdrift deli and buy a bottle of wine to enjoy on board too which makes this one of the most memorable ways to spend an afternoon in the area.
The beautiful views, slow pace and birdlife make this a worthwhile outing. On asking my kids about the highlight of their time in the valley this one came out as a firm favourite!
One a previous trip to McGregor we were introduced to the Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary and as we were in the area again we opted to introduce our friends to this family favourite.
The beauty of taking a trip mid-week is that you’re guaranteed to almost have any place to yourself and be able to fully enjoy the serenity of the country so after we visited the donkeys we decided to take the short walk called Adam’s Walk around the grounds.
The starting point is right next to the donkey enclosure and there is a pamphlet to show you the route. At each numbered spot you read small paragraph to help you appreciate the natural beauty around you. The kids had great fun racing from one point to the next. I’m not sure they took much else in but at least they had a good run around and some fresh air in their lungs!
Our final destination on our Moms & Kids tour of the Robertson Wine Valley was a hidden gem located down a very bumpy dirt road… Marbrin Olive Growers.
Here the moms and boys tried out a selection of their award-winning olive oils, olives, balsamic vinegar, honey and other delights while the girls reveled in the sunshine, played with the dogs, hung out on the jungle gym and discovered their very own eggs from the chicken coop!
We spent a good hour enjoying our generous hosts hospitality and entertaining stories, and left laden with goodies (although the incredible selection of products made it hard to choose what to buy).
We’ll definitely be back here on our next visit to the valley. It was well-worth a visit for the foodies in the group, mostly my 10-year-old son!
Our mid-week Mom & Kids getaway was over far too soon. We left with heavy hearts, heads full of memories, cars full of produce and 4 tired kiddies who were quiet the whole way home… definitely a sign of fun had by all!
What a successful concept our Mom & Kids getaway was… one we’ll certainly be revisiting in the next winter school holidays. Anyone keen to join us??
Weltevrede Wine Estate Cottages, Bonnievale
Tel: +27 23 616 2141
Mondays-Fridays 08:00 – 17:00
Saturdays 09:00 – 15:30
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Images: Kathryn Rossiter