Unlike most of the Cape’s wine towns, you don’t simply stumble upon McGregor. You won’t see the vineyards from the road and spend impulsive, sunny Saturdays tasting wine on a shady porch. No, McGregor is hidden to the passer by on a single, winding road that leads nowhere else but here. After years of exploring the wine towns of the Western Cape, I finally took that road. And boy was I in for a treat.
As we pass the mandatory charm of the church and post office, I wonder why the town feels so… airy. I can’t put my finger on it until someone points out that there are no six-foot walls, iron gates or electric fences. The only barriers between the houses are low fences and shrubs, and these are only to keep the dogs inside.
McGregor sits peacefully, openly, in the shade of the Riviersonderend Mountains. It’s the furthest point along the Robertson Wine Valley and a weekend of languid wine pairings and many shared bottles over dinner brought me to realise why I love this valley. For these folks it’s not about awards, accolades and impressing buyers with their most expensive reserve. These winemakers don’t care if you don’t like their pinot. They’re not offended if the cheapest wine is your favourite. Wine is there to be enjoyed, and that’s all they want you to do.
So we did.
Lords Wines is situated on the Road to Nowhere. This road ends at the bottom of the mountains and the only way further is on foot (You end up in Greyton, another quaint weekend town). We taste a single vineyard Pinot Noir, then we taste the same vineyard’s pinot from 2012 and then, just because the owners are in a good mood, we taste the latest one straight from the barrel.
We pair the wines with anything and everything from butter popcorn to fruit dainties. We taste them the way they’re presented and then we jumble it up and decide for ourselves how the flavours are enhanced or spoiled. We buy bottles and take it to Green Gables in town for dinner. And what do you know; the pinot is just as enjoyable with a delicious mushroom risotto as it is with a succulent fillet.
We don’t limit ourselves to the wines of McGregor. Lourens van der Westhuizen is the winemaker of two farms further down the valley. He brings his Arendsig wines and joins us for another boozy meal at a McGregor favourite – Tebaldi’s.
Lourens is a genius and also produces single vineyards wines. The weather has a major influence on each year’s produce, but he lets the process happen and interferes as little as possible. He can happily divulge all kinds of technicalities and processes, but he knows his crowd.
According to him, the same tastebuds might thoroughly enjoy a sauvignon blanc under a tree in summer, but hate it when presented to them beside a fireplace in winter. Personally, he likes a bottle of cheap, Portuguese Graca with a fish braai simply because it suits his mood when he is grilling the fish in his backyard.
Sometimes we don’t feel like identifying every aroma before we take a sophisticated sip at a fancy wine farm. There are days when we simply want to crack open a great bottle of wine and share it between friends. You can do this in McGregor.