McGregor Event Photography: {Media Educational Part 1}

 

McGregor event photography can be so much fun! Especially when it’s in the form of a media educational organized by the lovely Mira of McGregor Country Getaways. An entire weekend of fabulous events from vertical wine tasting to cuddling donkeys; from being coffee snobs to walking a labyrinth. There’s something for everyone in the amazing little village of McGregor.  Not to mention the wonderful friends we made.  Picture this.  Seven complete strangers meet at a coffee shop on Friday morning.  They spend the weekend together, and by Sunday afternoon there are tears when they have to say goodbye.  Precious memories.

Below is our little group.  From left to right, back to front:  next to Andre is Darren Combrink from DC Tours.  Darren is a fabulous tour operator and the King of Social Media.  The dynamic and talented Mira Weiner from McGregor Country Getaways.  Mira has played a huge role in putting McGregor on the map as a tourism destination.  Next to Mira is Ankia Wolf, travel blogger for Lekkeslaap.  Lets just say Ankia wears her Lekkeslaap t-shirt with pride!  Next to me in the second row is Roseanna McBain, travel blogger for Travel Ground.  Probably one of the sweetest, kindest and gentlest people we have met in a while.  And then finally, Liza Botha of Nosy Rosy fame.  She is certainly the life and soul of any group and her energy is infectious.

 

Strictly Coffee,  5 Voortrekker Rd, Robertson 

Our McGregor event photography media educational weekend started in Robertson at the boutique coffee roastery and merchant, Strictly Coffee.  The concept for Strictly Coffee started off 6 years ago as a small 5kg roastery in the industrial area.  They supplied exclusively to only a few “word of mouth” clients.  Subsequently Strictly Coffee has become a very successful business.

 

 

Says owner Hanno Schwartz: I was always fascinated by the smell of coffee, but disappointed by the taste.”  This fascination along with his background in chemistry has been the drive behind his passion for coffee.

The beans used at Strictly Coffee are imported from around the world and masterfully taken through the art of roasting.  Hanno spent some time telling us about the roasting process, and what constitutes a good cup of coffee, and we got to do some tastings too.

 

 

We asked Hanno about an intriguing little piece of equipment up on one of his shelves.  It was a very “laboratoryesque” looking device.  Turns out it is a Belgian balance brewer.

 

 

Coffee grounds are placed in the glass chamber, while the water is placed in a metal chamber over heat.  This chamber is affixed to a weighted arm, which is where the balance comes into play.

As the water in the heated chamber begins to boil, it escapes through a thin tube into the chamber with the coffee grounds. The coffee brews in this chamber while the water supply exhausts itself.  At this point the metal chamber, now lighter, will rise up against its counterweight.  This in turn triggers the spring on the burner, which then extinguishes its heat source.   This withdrawal of heat will cause the liquid in the glass chamber to escape back into the metal chamber, and voila! Coffee!

Thank you, Hanno for taking the time out to share your passion with us.

 

 

Van Loveren Wine Estate

We had all been up rather early, and now that we had our tummies lined with good coffee and a snack (for some) we were ready to head off to our next port of call, the Van Loveren Wine Estate.  What a beautiful time of year to take a drive through the Robertson wine valley.  The leaves had started turning with the most beautiful autumn colours, and red cannas in full bloom lined the road.

 

The Van Loveren vineyards have been in the Retief family since 1937 and the estate is South Africa’s largest family owned winery.  Van Loveren has a reputation as a producer of wines of consistent quality and good value.   They have received many accolades and awards over the years.

We were met by the enthusiastic and informative marketing manager, Bonita Malherbe in the spacious and modern wine tasting venue.  The design was inspired by a wine barrel and incorporates the famous Van Loveren gardens and the very tree that is the romantic inspiration behind the Tangled Tree range. With the 6.5m high glass panels, the indoors and outdoors become one.

 

We partook in a wonderful cheese and wine pairing in the plush tasting “pods.” This was accompanied by informative sheets to help guide the taste buds and olfactory senses.  Various other pairings are also on offer, so we will definitely be back for more!

 

 

Below is the bridal chest of ancestor Christina van Loveren passed down through generations and after whom the farm was named.

 

 

Esona Boutique Winery

The scenery was spectacular as we made our way deeper into the Robertson Wine Valley to Esona.  Esona is a boutique winery owned by husband and wife team Rowan and Caryl Beattie.  “Esona” Xhosa for “the very one” is such an apt name.  The winery produces a limited release wine from single vineyards nestled beside the Breede River. The Old Cellar has been reconstructed into a tasting venue and deli.  Caryl’s deli has a small but enticing menu that focuses on supporting local products.

 

After a brief introduction by Rowan and Caryl on the beautiful deck overlooking the valley, we were escorted to the underground tasting room.

 

We can honestly say that this was one of THE most memorable wine tastings we have EVER experienced.  We would seriously recommend it to anyone paying a visit to the valley.  The underground setting is so unique with tastings happening in an old cement fermentation cistern or “kuip” as it would have been called back in the day.

The lovely Daneen took us through the very unique Taste-the-Difference experience.  This includes the tasting of two vintages of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz plus comparisons between Joker glass and grape specific glasses (RIEDEL) and paired with Fruit Preserves and chocolates.  One word – WOW!  Wow for the wines, and wow for the unbelievable experience.

Rowan and Caryl have a few new ideas up their sleeves, so watch this space…

Karin’s on Main, 87 Main Rd, Bonnievale

Our next stop took us to the village of Bonnievale where we had an appointment with our fabulous hosts Karen and Karin from the quirky and eclectic Karin’s on Main.   They purchased this run down hotel a few years back and with love, dedication and vision, have turned it into a hip, arty bed and breakfast/deli.

Each of the nine rooms has been decorated in a specific theme to honour a character or an era from the fifties, the decade in which the former hotel was originally opened.

The two Karen’s believe that “every meal should be a celebration of life” and have a wonderful deli and restaurant on the premises.  With its cosmopolitan décor and interesting menu, the deli is airy yet intimate.  It’s a charming, quirky and colourful place to enjoy the famous breakfasts or the delicious daily specials.

In addition there is a cocktail lounge area right next to the restaurant.  Sophie’s Lounge has been renovated into true art deco style, with a cosy fire place.

After a tour of the rooms, we were treated to the most delicious spread of treats, all lovingly prepared by their chef, and using fresh ingredients form the hydroponic garden.

Have a look at their website.  There are some fabulous Winter Specials on at the moment.  We will certainly be back!

 

Gubas de Hoek, 45 Reitz Street, Robertson

With all of the fabulous country hospitality, we were running so late for our next appointment in Robertson.  And I am so glad we managed to still get to this wonderful guesthouse.

Gubas DeHoek is a beautiful guesthouse owned by Gunther and Balbina.  It really feels more like a home than an accommodation establishment.  Each of the rooms is elegantly decorated with a cosy, homely touch.  There is provision for both bed and breakfast as well as self catering.   The garden and pool area is tranquil and serene, and a great place to relax on a hot summer’s day.

Mealtimes seem to be a splendid affair with owner/master chef Gunther at the reigns.  We were so grateful  for the wonderful tea and traditional apple pie that was served to us after a tour of the establishment.

 

The McGregor Unistars

It was getting late. The sun had set and the temperature dropped.  But this did not deter the participants of our next appointment.  Even though we were so behind schedule, the members of the McGregor Unistars Brass Band were there to welcome us to the town.   This was true testimony to their dedication not only to their music, but to their village.

The full band is made up of around 70 members, with about twenty-five musicians  participating at any given time. And it is clearly a team, or rather, family effort! The band members are not only individuals, but there are as many as six families who participate – one family has seven active band members.

 

Edna Fourie Gallery

Our second last, and very peaceful stop after an “on the go” and busy day was at the Edna Fourie Gallery.    Edna is an artist inspired by nature and open spaces.  She lives and works on her farm in McGregor.  On the 1st of December 2007, Edna opened her gallery. This is now the exclusive home of her art.  Her vision for this gallery is to create a soul-enriching sanctuary with a strong sense of place. It is about an experience rather than a look.

Thank you so much Edna for taking the time to tell us your personal story and to allow us to view your beautiful and moving artwork.

We ended off our day with a delicious dinner at Green Gables Country Inn and then it was time to head back to our cosy suite at the Fountain Place Guesthouse.

 

Fountain Place Guest House, Mill Street, McGregor

Any place where you book in and you are not only greeted by wonderful owners Justin and Linzi Carlisle, but by the 4 legged furry creatures too,  is a good place to stay!  Bella the Sausage dog took great pride in showing us to our suite and Mathilda the cat had centre position on the sofa to show us who is really in charge.

Fountain Place is housed in one of McGregor’s historic buildings.  Dating back to the mid 1800’s it has been declared a National Monument.

Accommodation at Fountain Place is offered in the form of two guest suites.  On entering our suite, we were struck by a sense of luxury and coziness.   Each suite consists of a bedroom with queen sized bed and a fireplace.  There is a private lounge with tea/coffee-making facilities and honesty bar fridge with drinks and snacks.  There is an en-suite bathroom with rain shower. Fluffy, white towels and facecloths are provided plus complimentary toiletries.

We love how Justin and Linzi have created a space that somehow is a blend of McGregor, Zambia (where they spent a number of years) and the UK (Linzi’s country of birth.)  There were so many lovely personal touches, and we wished we had more time to take it all in.  Definitely an excuse to return though!

And so Day 1 of our McGregor Event Photography session and media educational was at an end.  Stay tuned for Part 2!

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