Riebeek Valley Olive Festival

Words & Photos by DO IT NOW

Free Diving

Arriving at the largest festival of its kind in southern Africa, we bought our tickets and received a 'passport'. This passport gave us access to an incredible variety of olives, olive oils, wines and more on offer at the various venues, and so our culinary journey began.



First we visited the Olive Emporium and rugby lounge, and after sampling the many different olives and olive oils grown in the region, I could understand why Riebeek Valley has established a reputation for being one of the primary olive oil and olive producing regions in South Africa. I especially enjoyed the chilli olives, which were very tasty.There was also a huge range of balsamic vinegar - my absolute favourite - to taste and I just couldn't resist buying litres of this liquid gold to take home to Jozi!


The market enticed me with its array of treats including olives, olive oils, preserves, balsamic vinegar, tapenades and a whole range of olive-based beauty products. For anyone who enjoys olives - this was heaven! Other delicacies on offer included homemade nougat, various products from fresh pomegranates, and Indian food, as well as traditional clothing, food stalls and fresh oysters that could be enjoyed as a light meal when one got peckish. We tasted wines from the Riebeek Cellars, and the wine on offer from the neighbouring farms were of an extraordinary quality and delicious. My personal favourite was the Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot. It’s an easy drinking wine that tickle your taste buds with delicious aromas of berries. Just around the corner from here we discovered a stand selling very tasty snoek and feta samosas, which we consumed in quantities and washed down with Mojito’s and Long Island Ice Tea’s from the vibey Lime Bar. By 11h00 Francois and I were quite thankful that neither of us had to drive back to Langebaan.


Our next destination was Het Vlock Casteel and then Kloovenburg Wine Estate, approximately a two-kilometre drive away. Finding parking was a challenge, but nothing we’re not used to in Jo’burg. Both venues offered live entertainment and a very relaxing atmosphere. The hall at Het Vlock Casteel is quite majestic and once again we indulged in more amazing olives, local wines, dreamy nougat, mouth-watering cheeses and cottage cheese, as well as friendly conversations. I haven’t eaten so much in a very long time … and we were only 'tasting'. The fabulous 2007 Merlot at Het Vlock Casteel was an absolute crowd pleaser, with many people queuing up for a tasting! Kloovenburg Wine Estate was just as impressive, so we bought a delicious cheese platter and settled down for a little R&R before continuing further. Everywhere you looked there were families and friends sitting around on the grass or on hay bales just enjoying a lazy Saturday cheese and wine lunch. The chilled atmosphere reminded me that all festivals don’t need to be an absolute madhouse, with the vendors trying to fleece you of every penny in your pocket. The organisers had got the balance just right, we were entertained just enough so that you wanted more. And we did!



As the day started to draw to a close we headed for our final destination, Pulpit Rock. Here we had a spectacular view of the beautiful surrounds and some of the best looked after antique tractors I’ve seen. Taste buds were again tantalised, but this time it was three huge potjie pots filled to the brim with traditional stews accompanied by roosterkoek. We could only stare, our stomachs groaning in protest from the never-ending supply of goodies we had consumed throughout the day. A visit to this fabulous vineyard would not have been complete without bringing a trophy home. We decided on the Pinotage Reserve as it is truly sublime! If you enjoy a Pinotage, then a trip to Pulpit is highly recommended.


Sadly our time had run out and were not able to visit the last two stops; Café Felix with it’s fabulous French cooking and the Riebeek West Funky Fresh Market. But this just gives us a great excuse to come back next year and catch up on any 'tastings' that we missed out on. Making our way back to our car, we all had huge smiles on our faces from having thoroughly enjoyed our day out amongst thousands of tourists.


The wonderful atmosphere and friendly people of Riebeek Valley had made us feel right at home. Thank you to the organisers for a fantastic experience - we'll definitely come back.


The book is also available from the Riebeek Valley Tourism office: or 022-448 1545.