Simondium, Cape Winelands

The little hamlet of Simondium lies at the upper point of a triangle with Stellenbosch and Franschhoek on the R45 and, because it is the lesser known of the three, tends to be described in terms of the other two towns, with little to warrant a visit in its own right.

But Simondium has fast earned a reputation of its own, particularly with regard to cheese. The annual South African Cheese Festival, has taken place on the rustic Bien Donné farm in Simondium in April, is now a major culinary event with people turning up in their droves to sample champion cheeses and wine.

Local Simondium cheese makers have been among the medal winners, and local Dalewood Fromage, who farm using organic hand-crafted methods, have won awards for their Wineland Brie with Green Fig. Inspired by the Slow Food movement, the festival includes a cheese workshop where local cheese masters explain all about what goes in to making cheese.

As if to celebrate its new found popularity, Simondium occasionally hosts the annual Cape Country Picnic Festival in February, again on the Bien Donné farm. All the food and drinks can be bought at the various stalls and the weekend also provides a sunset concert. Although wines have been produced in Simondium only in recent years, and include wine farms such as Lindhorst Wines, Cowlin Wines and Vrede en Lust, some of the vines date back 300 years and are fast earning a reputation in their own right.

Simondium is also on the Western Cape Brandy Route, introduced in 1997, 325 years after the first brandy was distilled in South Africa. Backsberg in Simondium is one of the smaller more intimate cellars on the list, and uses an imported pot from the Cognac region of France in the distilling process of the Sydney Back Estate Brandy.

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