A visit to the small town of McGregor has been on our bucket list for a while. With it being winter and a long weekend, it was the perfect time to run away to Cape Town’s little hidden gem, cosy up in front of the fireplace and switch off from the worries of the world.
Considering how close McGregor is to Cape Town (just 150km out), we decided to leave on Friday morning and miss some of the long weekend traffic.
Before hitting the road, we realized the Landies hadn’t been washed since our last trip to Gansbaai. Dust and dirt was still evident, but with current water restrictions, we were very limited to where and how to wash the trusty old girls. Our recent drives through the countryside had made us very water conscious, and so we decided to try the waterless carwash option… enter Gareth & Co from Eco D car wash in Hout Bay. We were pleasantly surprised at the cleaning process and end result, especially saving 180 litres of water in the process (yes, that’s right!). If we’d been playing in the mud, we’re not sure the waterless wash would do the trick, but it was more than sufficient for our purposes on this weekend.
By 10:00, we were on the N1 to McGregor. We took our time getting there, marveling at the green sprouts of vegetation after the recent rains. It was also fantastic to see rivers flowing and waterfalls appearing in the Du Toits Kloof Mountain range.
We reached the Nuy Valley and decided to have lunch at Nuy on the Hill, apparently a very popular local spot, overlooking the R60 and surrounding farmlands. Service with a smile and scrumptious food kicked off the perfect winelands weekend! Well rested and fed, we continued to our favorite farm in the Roberson Valley…
Graham Beck Wine Farm… perfection in a bottle! The friendly staff is knowledgeable about both the wines and the region as a whole, which made our tasting experience so much more interesting. They do a tasting of 6 of the best MCC’s. It’s worth the effort to stop, if not for the bubbles, then for the majestic views and friendly people.
Affie Plaas is a ‘whatever you can think of, you can buy” farmstall just outside Robertson. They sell everything from wine to kitchen utensils and memorabilia. Walking through the aisles, we found bags of Waterblommetjies. To those not from Cape Town, a waterblommetjie is a small water flower (direct translation) found in dams and marshes in the Western Cape. They are generally prepared in the form of a stew or “Bredie”. Guess what we had for supper?
After the obligatory pitstop for groceries, we headed to McGregor for check-in from 2pm.
Our destination was “The Orchard cottage” at the McGregor Country cottages. This is a well equipped cottage including everything from kitchen utensils, winter bedding, electric blankets, full DSTV bouquet and, most importantly, a fire place. The cottage has two rooms, one with double bed and other with two single beds, each with their own bathrooms. The manicured garden has a stunning view of the surrounding mountains.
We proceeded to start a fire inside, as the temperature drops as soon as the sun sets. With the ladies cozying up to the fire inside, we braved the cold and started a fire outside for our waterblommetjie pot. This was going to be a first for the ladies, while Warren reminisced about how his granny made it back in the day. For a first attempt, it turned out pretty well… no leftovers! We spent the rest of the night singing along to classic music and sharing childhood stories by the fireplace.
On Saturday morning, we started with an early walk & cycle through town. We enjoyed watching the locals go about getting their day started. We were told that we just had to visit the popular Saturday morning McGregor market. It starts at 9am sharp and we were warned explicitly that we need to be there early, as it often ends by 09:30. Definitely something to note if you intend to visit!
The market attracts all the locals, town visitors and every town dog. Items for sale range from second hand books and fresh produce to freshly baked cakes and tarts, all 100% organic and homemade. It’s a great place to meet people and chat to the locals to get an idea what McGregor is all about.
With nothing much planned for the day, we popped into the McGregor tourist office to find out what else the town has on offer. The answer was right up our alley – wine farms! We grabbed a map of the area indicating all surrounding wine farms, noted the highly recommended cellars and hit the road (A very short one in this case).
Our first stop was Lords Wine Cellar. Named after the “Lords” cricket ground in England, it’s a fantastic venue nestled in the hills above McGregor. The wine farm is family owned and is best known for their award winning MCC. Hint: Order the cheese platter! It comes with the most amazing homemade winter soup and is perfect for sharing on a cold day. The wine was not bad either.
Heading back through town, our next stop was Tanagra Wine Cellar. Located on the outskirts of McGregor, this quaint wine cellar surprised us all. Fantastic smooth reds, fresh crisp whites and the perfect Grappa to end it off. We were hosted by the owner himself, so we got the authentic experience. As you can imagine, we did not leave empty handed.
The joy of small town living is how close everything is. We were responsible and left the cars at home while walking into town to experience some of the local flavors. We encountered a rustic charming, rustic trinket shop (Villagers), a well-stocked wine saloon where all the locals gathered and a pub, which is rumored to have the coldest Beer in the area.
After an afternoon of taking in all the town of McGregor had to offer, we headed back to the Orchard Cottage to start dinner. What better way to cap off our last night than with a steak and chops braai? Yes, it was cold, but we are South African after all!
Thanks to the fantastic hospitality of the owners, we were afforded the opportunity to check out late on Sunday. This meant a lazy morning, lit fireplace and bacon and eggs on the stove… what more could you ask for?
The drive home was an awesome end to the weekend, as we took a detour over the Old Du Toits Kloof pass instead of the tunnel, taking in the scenery in the mountains and over the Paarl Valley.
McGregor captures your heart and is certainly a place we will not forget. It’s far enough removed from the hustle and bustle of daily life to leave you feeling recharged and ready to take on life. It’s difficult to explain but rather needs to be experienced.