08 Feb Barrels and Beards Rolling into Town
The annual Bot River Barrels and Beards event, one of the great parties in the South African winelands, takes place on Saturday April 21 at Wildekrans Wine Estate. And proud sponsors of this whacky showcase, Amorim Cork, will be there. Not with beards, but to judge them.
It all started eight years ago when 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.
“This is a unique event, unlike any I have experienced anywhere in the world,” says Joaquim Sá, MD of Amorim Cork SA. “The beard parade by the participating winemakers, the extravagant show presented by each hairy individual and the energetic ambience make Barrels and Beards the kind of event it is a privilege to be at – even more so as a sponsor.”
For 2018, the theme of the event is the mighty bull, as in the one used in the Bot River Wine Route logo, the animal being 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.
For Barrels and Beards this year, the region’s wineries have grabbed the proverbial bull by the horns and incorporated the Taurean theme in every aspect of preparations.
This year guests will be able to feast on the food of the valley with tables brimming with local produce and specialties. Having served as a valuable waystation for centuries, modern Bot River and the Overberg remains an extremely fertile area and in many ways, is still an agricultural breadbasket of the Western Cape.
At the appointed time, a panel of dour and determined judges pluck and pull, stroke and measure. They comb through the phalanx of extended goatees, van dykes, balbos, garibaldis, mutton chops and imperials to finally announce the year’s Best Bot Beard.
Once done, the feast sets in and the shaving ban ends. Hair today, gone tomorrow as they say.
“We look forward to the Cut the Bull-theme for Barrel & Beards this year, an event to literally let your hair down and meet the winemakers of Bot River in one festive location,” says Bot River Wine Route co-ordinator Melissa Nelsen, the bubbly personality behind Genevieve MCC.
Bot River lies a mere one hour’s drive up the N2 highway from Cape Town. A divine country getaway, the region has long been known for its wine pioneers and mavericks. There are 13 wine farms, most of them family-owned and run, producing world class wines. Often underestimated, Bot River is also renowned for its conservation initiatives.
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.
The participating farms are:
5. Eerste Hoop
8. Genevieve 9. Goedvertrouw
10. Thorne & Daughters
Online tickets available through www.quicket.co.za as from 2 February. For enquiries and pre-bookings contact Ilse Henderson at Wildekrans Wine Estate at 028 284 9488 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.