This small, prosperous town has a vaguely time-warped feel to it, with tidy jacaranda- lined streets, orderly church squares and neat rose gardens. It is the centre of the largest area of irrigated vineyards in the Cape with over 20 wineries, many of which have won awards. The high-quality dessert wines and liqueurs produced here have ensured the town’s continued prosperity, as has the large brandy distillery. The town itself was founded in 1852 as a new parish to cope with the growing population of Swellendam further down the Breede River Valley. Conditions are ideal for agriculture as there is an abundant water supply from the Langeberg Mountains to the north and the Riviersonderend hills to the south. The lime-rich soil here provides good grazing for horses and there are a number of stud farms in the region. While there isn’t a great deal to see in town, it is a pleasant place to spend a day exploring the sleepy centre and nearby vineyards. Robertson Tourism Bureau T023-626 4437, http://www.robertsonr62.com, Mon-Fri 0900-1700, Sat-Sun 0900-1400, is on the corner of Reitz and Voortrekker streets.
Robertson Museum 50 Paul Kruger St, T023-626 3681, http://www.robertsonmuseum.org, Mon-Sat 0900-1200, free, or ‘Druids Lodge’, remained in the hands of the same family for nearly 100 years. The original house was built circa 1860, only a few years after the grid pattern for the town had been first laid out. In 1883 the resident magistrate, Mr WHD English, bought the house and it remained the property of the family until 1976, when the last living member, Miss Violet English, died. The municipality bought the house and set up a museum. Most of the collection is devoted to the lives of William Henry Dutton English and his offspring, as well as the history of Robertson and the area. Of particular note is a beautiful collection of lace. Here you can pick up a useful guide for a historical walk around the village that takes in the villas built during the ostrich feather boom.
Klipdrift Brandy is as iconic to South Africa as biltong is and few South African’s have not heard of or use regularly the expression ‘klippies and coke’. It was first distilled by Kosie Marius on his farm in 1938 and the distillery in Robertson opened in the 1940s. Robertson Klipdrift Distillery 4 Voortrekker Rd, T023-626 3027, http://www.kilpdrift.co.za, Mon-Fri 0800-1700, Sat 0900-1600, has an interesting visitors centre which displays the history of the popular tipple and you can go on tours of the distillery and see the giant copper vats and of course taste brandy. The good Brandewyntuin restaurant serves breakfast and lunch....
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