Bot River Barrels & Beards tackles Bull by Horns for Charity

Bot River Barrels & Beards tackles Bull by Horns for Charity

The whackiest event in the South African wine landscape has to be the annual Barrels & Beards Festival held by the small but spirited Bot River Wine Route. Annually a group of wine makers make a vow of not shaving during the harvest, at the end of which they host a beard competition and gigantic slap-up party to celebrate the ending of the grape crush, the beautiful beards and the simple joys of being a member of the wine community in this charming rural enclave.

It is fun, it is tasty and it is so popular that for one week-end tickets to Barrels & Beards are the hottest pieces of paper in and out of town. What a great event and a joy for Amorim Cork to be involved as sponsor.

This year the mob of bearded Bot River winemakers grabbed the proverbial bull by the horns when the Barrels & Beards showcase took on the new bullish theme with the first Amorim Cork Bull Trophy presented to outright winner Kobie Viljoen of Villion Wines.

With Wildekrans Wine Estate hosting this year, tribute was paid to the virile bull in the Bot River Wine Route logo, contestants having to incorporate a bull-theme into their presentations.

Braam Gericke from Wildekrans Estate getting bullish.

On the night, activities centred around three highlights: the winemakers’ hilarious Harvest Beard Parade judged by popular drive-time radio host John Maytham, Amorim Cork MD Joaquim Sá and former supermodel Josie Borain; the so-called “Cut the Bull” Primal Culinary Feast of fresh and fabulous local produce; and the charity fundraiser known as the Best of Bot Auction.

“Along with the well-cultivated facial hair, this year’s line-up had everything – stand-up comedy, fancy-dress, introspective drama and, as usual, some energetic musical showmanship. Each act brought an element of inspired originality, so it was difficult to select one. But at the end of the day Kobie Viljoen’s natty dress and fleet-footed dance-moves stole the show. He was a worthy winner of the first Amorim Cork Bull Trophy, designed by Laurie Wiid of Wiid Design for Barrels & Beards. He looked so proud holding that trophy I am sure he is not going to give the title away easily next year,” says Amorim Cork’s Sá.

Dinner is served.

“Botriver Barrels and Beards was another tremendous success this year and remains one of the most atmospheric and unique events in the Cape winelands. Besides the entertainment and the chance to experience the region’s brilliant wines, the money raised for charity makes it an annual occasion Amorim is proud to be associated with.”

The true heart of this affair really centres around the Best of Bot Auction which preceded the festivities. This year’s auction lots saw frenetic bidding for bespoke wine tastings with brand owners and winemakers themselves; delicious and extravagant meals and idyllic get-away sleep-overs.

The auction supports various school-level educational projects in the region and this year a whopping R175 000 was raised to benefit the Bot River Education Foundation (BEF) in assisting promising local high school students to gain entry to university.

The evening ended with an awe-inspiring Nose to Tail dinner by Wildekrans chef Greg Henderson, who is known for roaming the local pastures to offer guests an indigenous dining experience. His products are foraged and sourced from local artisans and farmers within a 100km radius of the restaurant and culinary highlights of the evening included Cape Malay curried tripe; Milk Stout braised oxtail; coffee-blackened sirloin; fynbos boerewors, putu-pap poppers and beef lard hassle-back potatoes. The ice cream bar with beef tallow ice cream cones also went down a treat.

The contestants.

The 2018 Bot River Barrels & Beards featured an all-star cast from: Anysbos, goat farmers with a weakness for wine; Arcangeli, a wine producer with a wild Italian heart; Barton, whose Blue Crane logo reflects its eco-farm approach; Beaumont Family Wines, home to the region’s oldest wine cellar; Eerste Hoop; Gabriëlskloof, the courtyard on a koppie; Genevieve MCC, a uniquely Bot River bubbly; Goedvertrouw Wine Estate, the intimate gem of energetic, teetotaller winemaker Elrida Pillmann; Luddite Wines, champion for dry-land farming; Maremmana Estate, a blend of great wine and an idyllic farm lifestyle; Momento; Paardenkloof Estate, the single vineyard-single variety winery; Rivendell Estate, a blend of Austrian and South African wine tradition; Thorne & Daughters, simple wines with a modern edge; and, Villion Family Wines, a wine producer “tempting fate with faith”.

For more information on the Bot River Wine Route and its unique characters visit or follow them on social media @BotRiverWines.