A few months ago an email popped into my inbox with an invite to #MeetTheCousins and spend the weekend in the gorgeous wine area of Robertson. My instant response was YES and when the invite had a plus one , I knew that I could only share this experience with my cousin.Loads of emails and chats and then it was time for the cousins to #MeetTheCousins. Bright eye and bushy-tailed we arrived early at King Shaka International Airport for our flight to Cape Town and with hand luggage only.
So what exactly is this you ask. Well the hashtag is about actually meeting the four cousins behind the popular South African wine brand Four Cousins . Having been to the Van Loveren Estate before and a lover of the Four Cousins brand as it is such an easy entry-level wine to drink I was rather excited to be heading off with a group of media influencers many I had only met online. The aim of the weekend was understand the brand and the people behind the brand. And YES the Four Cousins are REAL and I honestly after this weekend feel like part of the family. The four cousins Neil, Bussell ,Hennie and Philip are indeed the brand that they have created which also turns 18 this year, they are the sons of two brothers who have created an amazing household brand in terms of wine , whiskey, Gin and alcopops. Each cousin has a specific role in the business with Bussell being the winemaker, Hennie and Neil the farming experts and Philip looking after the business side of the winery. It is very evident that these cousins share an awesome bond and their love of wine making is ingrained in them. The cousins are so down to death and funny each with their own character and personality.
After arriving at Cape Town International Airport we met our fellow wine drinkers for the #MeetTheCousins weekend as there were media from Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban all apart of this group. The drive to Robertson is two hours long so we had padkos for us prepared and that sustained us till we got to Robertson. Along the road trip I got to chat to several of the bloggers including :
- Elvira from https://throughmywineglass.co.za/about/
- Tebo from http://averagesouthafrican.com
- Ceecee from https://ceecestravelblog.wordpress.com/
- Laura from http://www.laurasworld.co.za/
- Rochelle from https://lokalza.wordpress.com/
Now back to our #MeetTheCousins adventure on arriving at the beautiful Van Loveren Estate we were welcomed with glasses of bubbly such a great way to celebrate International Bubbly Day and my falling in love moment with the Sweet Sparkling Four Cousins Blush which became my staple drink all weekend. It was then time for a cellar tour with Bussell and of course more tastings along the way.It was really interesting to learn about the wine making process and hearing from Bussell first hand on the challenges that face the wine industry. The wine cellars were so lovely and cool that I could imagine just staying there all summer long in the western cape while sipping on my bubbly and I would be very content. We then headed off to the beautiful courtyard area set up for our wine blending experience. Each station was set up with various bottles of wine, test tubes, a notebook , glasses and the best was white laboratory coats with the Van Loveren coat of arms and the title of Assistant Wine Maker. The task was to recreate the Four Cousins Sweet Red, we were also given a sample for us to get the true taste of what we had to create. After lots of tastings, failed attempts and red wine spills all guided by Bussell and the team we got to bottle our own blended wine and cork it too so we could take it home with us. This was such a fun experience which you can also do but advance bookings need to be made and it has to be a group booking.
We then headed to our home for the weekend in Montagu which was the beautiful Montagu Country Hotel .We did not get much time to explore the hotel as we were off to dinner and to #MeetTheCousins all four of them in person and wait for it we were going to have dinner in the home of Hennie and amazing wife Chrislene. All dressed up we headed off to a night of laughs, delicious food , great company and of course wine, arrived at the home of our gracious hosts just as the sky turned to sunset and beautiful shades of pink. The stoep was where we were welcomed by our hosts and of course lots of bubbly to toast new friendships. As it started becoming colder we headed indoors and told to make ourselves at home in Chrislene’s beautiful and welcoming home. Platters of homemade starters circulated the home and included south African favourites like cheese puff, sweet corn fritters and skape stertjie this was the first time I tried this traditional South African dish and boy oh boy was it so delicious. There was never a moment that our glasses were not filled by our hosts while we got to know them all personally. The main course was a trio of unusual but very delicious salads, braaibroodjies , chicken and beef soasties and boerewors and roasted potatoes. Everything looked and tasted so good and was made by Chrislene that is was not hard to take seconds. But we were reminded to keep space for dessert which was fresh guavas cooked in a simple sugar syrup layered with a lemon meringue yoghurt and Swiss roll simple yet such a great dessert to finish off a hearty meal. Tummies full, a little more merrier we headed back to Montagu as we had a full day ahead of us on the next day.
After a sumptuous breakfast at the hotel we headed to Van Loveren for a tour of the vineyards where we got to learn more about the farm , farm methods used , staff and all the things that happen before the grapes get to the cellar to be made into wine. After this we headed to the The Four Cousins Restaurant for some wine tastings before lunch. The tasting menus are varied and include Gin and Craft Beer made by brand. Also included are non alcoholic pairings and kiddie parings such a great idea so the entire family can be included. Having looked at the menu in advance I kind of had an idea what I wanted to eat though everything sounded great and the reviews were fantastic. The food as per descriptions were amazing and everything looked so beautifully presented in the sunshine went on for several hours time flies when you are having fun.
We headed back to Montagu and decided some pool lounger time was needed with pots of tea.A few hours of tea and chatting before it was time for dinner.Dinner was a short walk across the road from the jotel Kokkemans Kitchen. A rustic farmhouse eatery with a small menu with firm favourites. And of course lots of Four Cousins wine to make the evening more special. The Sparkling Blush was there and I was happy as a bee. The Lamb Shank and Chicken Livers starter I had were both divine and I was enjoying the moment to take any pictures.
Sunday morning was an early start as we had to pack up and head to brunch with the cousins before flying back home to Durban.Brunch was at the beautiful tasting room starting off with Mimosas of course like every morning should start. Good food, great wine and amazing company was the perfect way to end our #MeetTheCousins weekend. After hugs ,kisses and more photographs with my new cousins and not forgetting a selfie with Oom Nico we made our journey back to Cape Town.
To the team at Van Loveren ,Retief family and Pippa thank you for creating an amazing weekend from start to finish taking care of our every need and making us feel part of your family.
I asked my cousin to join me on my Four Cousins #MeetTheCousins Experience. Shanna is also a lover of the Four Cousins range and having never been to a wine estate before this was a great experience for her and she got to see behind the scenes of my blogging life. I loved that I got to share this with my cousin and it was a rather special weekend. Read below Shanna’s experience of the weekend :
They say cousins are your first friends, partners in crime and people who will always have your back, this has always been true in my life. So when the cousin that most epitomises this called and told me to pack my bag, we were off to #MeetTheCousins, I was curious about which other cousins she was wanting to add to the mix. After a brief explanation of what we had in store for us, I was onboard and bubbling with excitement. I was very eager to #MeetTheCousins, but after returning from living abroad, my cousin built her blog from scratch, she put many hours into it and created something of immense awe. I am incredibly proud of her, and this being my first trip with the blogger, it was a great opportunity to see that side of her and even though she has been my cousin for the entirety of my life, it was a chance to #MeetTheCousins that she had worked so hard to create, The Spice Goddess.
My love of travel aligns very strongly with my cousins, and is entrenched deeply in our family, so getting packed and ready and jetting off to Cape Town together was a great treat. Once we got there we felt nothing but welcome, a warm, heartfelt and all-embracing welcome. Everyone, from the staff, to management team, to the cousins and even their families welcomed us into every part of the business. Upon arrival, my cousin and I met our true love for the duration of our weekend, the Four Cousins Blush Sparkling wine, utterly delicious. Being that we met this family member on world MCC day, only made the introduction sweeter. With the delightful bubbles making us happy, we proceeded on a cellar tour and wine blending course. Once again, through each experience, the overwhelming feeling of family was never far, this was only reinforced in dinner at Hennie’s (the eldest cousin) home. It was at this point that we were able to actually #MeetTheCousins, enjoy good food, great wine and loads of laughs. I was able to experience a range of conversations, from fun, easy-going chats, to deep heartfelt stories and even a few politically and business strategy debates. My own family are all educated in different avenues, our family gatherings are very similar, and it felt to me like a normal Friday evening where the plan had just been to #MeetTheCousins at one of the family homes in Durban.
Saturday was full of fun and adventure, from jumping in bakkies and driving around the vineyards to food and wine pairing at the impressive Four Cousins restaurant. At dinner we got to sip on our favourite cousin that we love, the Blush Sparkling wine, and also experience some delicious local cuisine. Saturday made me proud to be a South African, our country is truly beautiful and vast, filled with beautiful scenery, wonderful people and delightful cuisine.
On Sunday our #MeetTheCousins weekend came to an end, but before heading home we had a chance to our new cousins one more time. Mimosa’s are always the best way to start your day and the French toast stack at the Four Cousins restaurant is definitely worth the trip. All in all, when the two cousins from Durban trekked to CPT to #MeetTheCousins, the result was an unforgettable weekend.