Newsletter from Pietman Retief - January 2013

The most exciting thing to happen in the Winelands of Stellenbosch in the near future is the new-look Stellenbosch Wine Festival which was moved to end of January to accommodate more visitors-it will now be happening from 25 January to 3 February literally in the streets of Stellenbosch.

Stellenbosch Wine Routes moved this annual event from its previous midwinter schedule to the new time slot in order to capitalise on the unique assets and attractions this historic oak lined town and its more than 150 wineries has to offer. Sporting events, art exhibitions and musical events throughout the town during the festival will give visitors a colourful taste of the Stellenbosch lifestyle.

Over and above, Stellenbosch is a town to visit 12 months of the year. On their website the Wine Routes give 40 reasons, suggested by 40 well known locals, why Stellenbosch should be visited.

John and Sandy McGrath were able to indulge their interest in art, nature and the proteas as well as tasting the wines.. They also enjoyed their informative walk through Stellenbosch accompanied by Pietman. After the tour of the winelands Lucy Kirkness wrote saying 'We just wanted to say how much we enjoyed our wine tour with you, not just the delicious wines but also the interesting conversation and information about your beautiful country'.

The Wine festival is to be followed by the now well known and established Woordfees in March, or Word Festival, which was initiated by the University but has developed into a true town event. The accent is on the Word, or literally Afrikaans literature with a number of theatre activities, but music and wine and talks on various subjects, including book launches, as well as historical walks, draw enthusiasts from all over the country. This includes the WOW, or Words open Worlds, which is an impressive programme concentrating on the youth and reaches some 70 000 children over a period of time.

The clivias at Babylonstoren form a perfect backdrop for Will and Kate Edes from the UK. Andrew and Jane Watson Jones who travelled with Audley visited Kanonkop in October.

It came as no surprise recently when four of the restaurants in the Winelands of Stellenbosch were elected amongst the top 10 restaurants in South Africa. Jordan, Rust en Vrede, Overture and Terroir were the four that were judged by Eat Out DSTV Network Restaurant Awards. In fact, two more restaurants in the Winelands landed amongst the Top 10. The very well known The Tasting Room in Franschhoek, and La Colombe in Constantia retained the position they have held so often since the awards started many years ago.

David and Heloise Hawkins find themselves surrounded by beautiful roses at the Huguenot Memorial in Franschhoek last November. Elsabe Retief explored the newly opened gardens at Rustenberg which have been opened to the public.

Stellenbosch has become a shopper's paradise now that a huge shopping complex, the Eikestad Mall, has opened its doors in centre of town, with immediate success. Other activities in the region include cycling trails, hikes, art galleries aplenty, the campus of the University with the Botanical Garden which now displays the biggest collection of Bonsais in South Africa.

Visit for more information.

And just across the mountain the sleeping village of Pniel is coming to life with a tea garden halfway between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, the other tourism icon in the Winelands. Franschhoek has won several accolades during 2012, amongst others the Award for Best Local Tourism Authority Information Service of the year. The Solms Delta Summer Concerts on Saturday evenings have become popular, and the Rond en Bont tour, an Experience leading to the diversity and rich heritage of the various communities in this beautiful valley is becoming more popular. Franschhoek features a festival virtually every second weekend, of which the Literature Festival, the Bastille festival in July, and the Champagne Festival in November have become very popular. Then there is also the Franschhoek Summer Wines, and event running from 16 March at Leopard's Leap family Vineyards. Visit the website to learn more of what is happening in this very active "sleeping" valley!!


Clients requesting holiday planning assistance will be referred to the most suitable tour operator who may be able to provide help with hotels and travel details within South Africa.


All bookings should be made with Susan Alexander in the reservations department tel +27 (0)21 761 7687 or cell +27 (0) 722 719072, email

For clients booking both the Wonderful Winelands and Captivating Cape Town & The Peninsula tours there is a reduction of 10%.


Recognised tour operators in the UK and Europe are invited to send South African planning staff visiting South Africa for a one day 'See the Winelands' with Pietman. Enquiries may be made with the reservations department regarding available dates.


Arrangements have been made to include other European languages with our tours. As well as English, Afrikaans and Dutch, French has been added recently.


Like most cities at the height of the summer season Cape Town suffers from too much traffic. There are many fantastic hotels and country houses in and around Stellenbosch and Franschhoek and we suggest that those wanting to tour the Winelands stay in the area. Those planning a Captivating Cape Town & The Peninsula tour will perhaps find it more convenient to avoid booking in the Camps Bay and Clifton areas which tend to become very congested.