It’s not often that you can say you really were at the start of something magical. I imagine people who first went to Woodstock must have felt this way (the festival, not the suburb in Cape Town). Or people who first combined cappuccinos and croissants.
I am pleased to say I was at the start of something extremely special: The Harvest Crushed Festival and Bacchanalia Ball on Themika Wine Farm in Tulbagh. It happened at the end of February this year, and you shouldn’t be disappointed if you didn’t know about it – this was the first year they held The Harvest and it was a very small affair. Next year will be a whole different story, though, because I guarantee that every person who was there went home and raved to their friends, family and Facebook fans about how awesome it was – and how it’s the new best festival in South Africa.
Really, I mean that. If you’re planning a visit to Cape Town any time soon, plan to be here at the end of February next year so that you don’t miss out on this festival.
So what made it so special? Well, firstly it felt as if everyone there was part of the family – a big, rambunctious family who gathered together on this beautiful farm for a weekend of food, wine, and wine-making. It was a fully catered weekend (an option that will probably be reserved for VIP tickets in future), and meals were served around a long table, laden with freshly baked bread, fresh salads and delicious meals. The first night (Friday) was a pretty tame affair, because we all had to be up at 4.30am to pick the grapes (white grapes have to be picked before sunrise to preserve their flavour, apparently).
Bleary-eyed and sleepy, we all set off clutching mugs of coffee and scarily sharp shears, and started harvesting grapes. Admittedly, this became a lot more fun once the sun had actually risen – next year I’m sure they’ll start a little later. The beauty of a harvest festival, though, is that people are happy to be harvesting – and with the number of musicians in the ranks it wasn’t long before people started singing the day into beginning.
After the picking (and a delicious breakfast), we headed off for the most fun part: the stomping. Giant vats filled with grapes ready to be stomped by (disinfected) feet resulted in a whole lot of laughs, and some great pics. And then it was time for the bottling of the wine – or for an afternoon nap in the shade, if the morning wake-up call caught up with you (as it did with me).
The afternoon was filled with an impressive line-up on musicians – vocalists and bands alike – who took to the small, intimate stage and entertained those of us lounging on the lawn. And that night was the Bacchanalia Ball – with a toga theme – and even more music.
The festival continued all the next day, and although there were definitely some kinks that need to be ironed out, I have no doubt the organisers will do an amazing job of making next year’s Harvest even more magical. Make sure you don’t miss out on it.