If you’re making plans for April that doesn’t include a visit to the South African Cheese Festival, cancel it. No, seriously! There’s a reason why this event is so popular with cheese and wine lovers.
The SA Cheese Festival innovates this year by popping up over two weekends at two different destinations, on the West Coast and in the Winelands.
Johan Ehlers, chief executive of Agri-Expo, who has been organising the festival since 2022, says there are at least a million reasons why it’s a decadent experience.
“Come celebrate life with a glass of the region’s finest wines or a Cap Classique, cherish a moment with citrus-styled gin, or just be happy whilst sipping on a craft beer,” Ehlers says.
“We carefully selected an array of artisanal food creations, including award-winning, traditional and handcrafted cheese, from goats’ cheese, Italian cheese, and even flavoured gouda and cheddar, from Labneh to Gruberg, from Rockvale to Kasselshoop.”
Festivalgoers can taste and buy foods with character such as chorizo or kudu, Italian and Spanish salamis, spoil your pallet with honey, pâté or hummus, and be adventurous with balsamic beads. Or, says Ehlers, simply “add a touch of French flair with a baguette or a croissant and get the picture-perfect moment by choosing olives and tapenades!”
Travel, taste with celeb chefs and foodies
The South African Cheese Festival has reacted with joy to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that outdoor venues may now be 50% full and encourages cheese and wine lovers to start celebrating this right away. Festival enthusiasts will immediately benefit from buying a ticket at a reduced price.
“The President has given us a reason to celebrate, so now people can seize it. We will welcome these extra festival goers with open arms, and we are grateful that we can offer this extraordinary experience at a more affordable price,” Ehlers says.
He adds that they are committed to quality, and love people with passion.
“That’s why we’ve added the Standard Bank Travel & Taste experiences – an exciting new concept where celebrity chefs and well-known food and wine experts will pop up together with us with three sessions per day. Seating is limited and guests should arrive early to ensure a seat at no extra cost.”
Chef Tiaan Langenegger will share a sneak peek of his brand-new television cooking show on both festival days, with his actor buddy Neels van Jaarsveld assisting him on Saturday. Also on Saturday, cellarmaster JD Pretorius will pair Warwick wines with Dalewood Fromage cheese.
You can also taste Ladismith Cheese with some of South Africa’s top chenin blancs as put in the spotlight by the Chenin Blanc Association. Long-time favourite celebrity chef Jenny Morris will show off her creative flair on Sunday.
Great music… and loads of cheese
Guests can relax on the estate’s lawns with ample shaded seating, or can escape to the courtyard whilst being entertained by top artists. On Saturday, the live music programme boasts the full Watershed band, the popular Jimm Harisson Project, and the duo Sister. Join again on Sunday with artists such as Dehan Marais, Sister Sister, and once again, Watershed.
According to Ehlers, another fascinating activity is the daily Ladismith Cheese carving competition.
“Come and unleash your inner artist by trying your hand at cheese carving – after all, April is International Sculpture Month – and there will be great prizes up for grabs!”
According to Ehlers, they can now increase the capacity of visitors at Sandringham and add an extra festival day on the Workers’ Day holiday: “We originally planned the festival with regulations as it was in place, but we are constantly adjusting our offering to accommodate visitors and exhibitors.”
Ehlers says guests can expect the same unique experience of quality that the SA Cheese Festival has become famous for over two decades. “Everyone knows Sandringham Estate as the home of the SA Cheese Festival, whilst Groote Post offers an exceptional opportunity to come and enjoy country hospitality on the amazing Pentz family’s historic 18th century farm.”
Tickets cost R290 which includes an exclusive tasting glass. Tickets are available at Webtickets as well as at Pick n Pay stores. No tickets will be sold at the gates. Only a limited number of tickets are available. A Covid-19 access policy of proof of vaccination or a negative test result will apply.
The SA Cheese Festival will take place on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 April at Groote Post outside Darling on the West Coast and Saturday 30 April, Sunday 1 May, and Monday 2 May at Sandringham outside Stellenbosch.
This year’s festival is supported by platinum partners, the Western Cape department of agriculture and Standard Bank, as well as other partners.
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