Barrels and beards Botriver 2019

Barrels & Beards Festival Botrivier 2020

Barrels and Beards Harvest Festival 2020

The 2020 information will be posted here as soon as it is available.

The 2019 Bot River Barrels & Beards showcase took place on Saturday, 13 April 2019 and once again, it was a roaring success.

Some nine years ago the wonderfully eclectic bunch of very talented Bot River Winemakers challenged each other to grow the most luxuriant beard during harvest. The Shave Off on the 1st February marks the start of harvest each year as well as the start of a new beard. The grape harvest waits for no-one – when the fruit is ripe, it must be picked and taken to the cellar. There is little time for sleep and even less for time-consuming activities like shaving – this must take a back seat too, so beards in the vineyards and cellar are not unusual at this time of year.

Barrels and beards Botriver 2019
Barrels and beards Botriver 2019

At the end of harvest the now well-bearded winemakers arrive at the annual Beard Parade – a talent show contest based on beards and bulldust, of inconsequence and almighty mirth. This is an opportunity for the public to taste new vintage wines straight from the barrel as well as special release wines and also to meet the winemakers, make new friends, party and do some good in the process.

The occasion centres around the auction: the sale of truly special Bot River wines. The auction benefits various school-level educational projects in the region.

This is followed by a dinner known as the Botriviera feast!

Bot River ranks amongst the most exciting winelands destinations, having defiantly maintained its own distinct, laid-back identity and focus on the creation of outstanding wines that are enjoyed all over the world.

Come Saturday, 13 April and those famed lyrics of that eponymous 1960s musical were recalled once more: “She asks me why. I’m just a hairy guy; I’m hairy noon and night…” Because, that’s the date for the hip and hirsute Barrels & Beards party – to which everyone is invited. This year, Barrels & Beards again welcomes lovers of all things fun and delicious to a sumptuous dinner spread and to taste wines right from the latest vintage straight from the barrel during the festivity hosted once more on the hillside grounds of Barton Vineyards.

More than an occasion to, ahem, let hair down, Barrels & Beards highlights the vineyards of the valley that give rise to its unique wines; shines the spotlight on every individual who contributed; and, looks to the future with a ‘best of Bot’ wine auction of rare and special vintages to benefit the children of Bot River. To date the auction has raised nearly R200 000 with the help of enthuastic visitors to the occasion.

 Producers who took part in the 2019 Barrels & Beards celebration were Anysbos, Barton, Beaumont Family Wines, Gabriëlskloof, Genevieve MCC, Goedvertrouw Wine Estate, Luddite Wines, Maremmana Estate, Momento Wines, Paardenkloof Estate, Rivendell Estate, Villion Family Wines and Wildekrans Boutique Wine Estate.

What has become a tradition and now the reason for exuberance, began by quite an accident. Grape harvest waits for no-one – when the fruit is ripe, it must be picked and taken to the cellar. It’s a festive time, the work of the preceding season having literally borne fruit. But there’s little time for sleep, so many forego time-consuming activities like shaving in favour of harvest and perhaps a little extra rest. Beards in the vineyards and cellar are not unusual at this time of year and certainly, more than a few have grown accustomed to the fuzzy features that seasonally appear in the mirror.

Now, the coincidence has been put to good use by the winemakers of this close-knit wine region who deliberately undertake a self-imposed shaving ban during the harvest period. It was in 2010 that Luddite winemaker Niels Verburg first declared the challenge never before heard of in these parts. He cast a steely eye at his colleagues across the valley and dared them to a grand and glorious Bot River clash of beards. The challenge has stuck and will be a part of every Barrels and Beards festival Botrivier of the future.

The inimitable Niels Verburg
Niels Verburg of Luddite during the Barrels and Beards festival Botrivier

Once the grapes are in – and to the delight of every partner, no doubt – the shaving ban ends. But not before the barrels are rolled out for a homegrown harvest party and the shaggy growth goes on display.

To great mirth all round, the annual Beard Parade is a hairy highlight of the event. Here, deep and earnest judges pluck and pull, stroke and measure to finally announce the winner of that esteemed and envied title of Best Bot Beard.

Then follows the auction of special Bot River wines, which benefits various school-level educational projects in the region and what has become known as the Botriviera dinner made with all things lekker and local.

“The evening is about feeling right at home,” says Bot River Wine Route co-ordinator and the bubbly personality behind Genevieve MCC, Melissa Nelsen.

“Help yourself; break bread with your new mate. Abundance is the hallmark of this menu and we’ll be supporting our local food producers.”

The Barrels and Beards festival Botrivier is hosted around Botriver. Bot River lies a mere one hour’s drive up the N2 highway from Cape Town. A divine country getaway, the region has long been known for its wine pioneers and Mavericks. There are 13 wine farms, most of them family-owned and run, producing world-class wines. Often mistakenly underestimated, Bot River is also renowned for its conservation initiatives.

There are some very interesting and inspiring facts and goings on with the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve which includes the rich Botriver district.


“Bot River is not just a one-night stand dorpie so why not make a weekend of it and come on over on Friday already to join us locals for a few cold ones on the stoep,” quips Kobie Viljoen, Chairperson of the Bot River Vineyards Association (and winner of the 2019 annual Beard Parade show). Barrels and Beards festival Botrivier is one of a couple of great events putting Botriver on the map of destination travellers.

Find more reading about the beloved and interesting Botrivier.