For most visitors to the Garden Route, Riversdale is merely a convenient refreshment stop on the way. This seemingly sleepy little town is not to be underestimated though; many a gem is hiding in the town and surrounds. One of these is undoubtedly Baleia Wines.
The winery is situated on the N2 about a kilometre outside of Riversdale on the way to Mossel Bay, in the cluster of buildings patrons of Die Rooi Aalwyn know so well. On the left are Baleia Wines and La Bella Restaurant & Deli. In front of the winery you are greeted by a statue of a whale’s tail, a harbinger of the interior of the winery and tasting room. Spacious, industrial, yet warm and welcoming, with a selection of fine art that surprises the eye every now and again, this is not ‘just a quick stop’. During the winter months a gorgeous gas fireplace tempts you to make yourself at home with a glass of one of their superb wines.
It is hard to believe that these boutique wines were born out of boredom. When Jan-Hendrik Joubert found himself unchallenged by their existing grain and livestock farming, they started planting olives and the vineyard followed almost by itself.
Today the 80 to 95 ton of grapes pressed here are all from the Joubert estate. The vineyards are located on the farm Dassiesklip, about 30km south of Riversdale near the hamlet of Vermaaklikheid. The farm was specifically selected for its proximity to the ocean and the limestone rich soil. The vineyards are regularly caressed by a delicate sea breeze which lowers temperatures; conditions beloved by Pinot noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc.
The estate also produces Shiraz and Tempranillo currently the only winery in South Africa who bottles this Spanish red wine unblended. Their blended red is aptly called Sebastian for the farms proximity to Saint Sabastian Bay, the whale nursery of southern Africa.
The Mediterranean blue and white of the label, the Joubert family crest, hint at the cooler climate in which these grapes are grown and the name Baleia – whale in Portuguese – pay homage to the explorers and adventurers from far off Portugal and the history in which the Garden Route coastline is steeped.
When meeting general manager and winemaker, Abraham de Klerk, you may be excused for mistaking him for one of these men of adventure who left everything behind to conquer new worlds.
He grew his vintner roots in Stellenbosch and, in the 15 years he has been in the industry, has worked in eight countries around the world and has 22 wine pressing seasons below his belt. Abraham joined the Baleia team in 2015 and, except for his vat of knowledge and experience, he brings with him an unmistakable spirit of adventure that would surely proof to be an asset to the Joubert family.
On the 3rd of September, the Garden Route mountain biking calendar gets a new addition to the already phenomenal choice of routes to ride.
Abraham, a keen mountain biker, initiated the Baleia Wines MTB Challenge. It will take place at the winery and offers 20km, 40km or 88km routes. Neither of these routes will take you through the vineyard or the olive groves but rest assured, the single track, jeep track and flowing dirt roads will offer you fantastic scenery on the routes crossing the Joubert’s grain, sheep and cattle farms.
Entry fees and starting times for the routes are as follows:
- 88km starts at 08:00 and the entry fee is R200
- 40km starts at 08:15 and the entry fee is R140
- 20km starts at 08:30 and the entry fee is R80
With ample parking, entertainment for the kids, wine tastings and Lizeth Joubert’s La Bella Restaurant & Deli, where you can also purchase the Baleia range of olive products, there will be something to keep every member of the family happy.
For more details about the Baleia Wines MTB Challenge: http://www.baleiawines.com/baleia-wines-mtb-event
Baleia Wines is open:
Monday to Friday 09:00 to 17:00
Saturday and Public Holidays from 10:00 to 13:00
You can contact them on 028 713 1214
Visit their website at http://www.baleiawines.com
Find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Baleia-Bay/187105261441469