Allée Bleue is not just a pretty face. Behind the well-known and loved wine ranges, the delicious food offerings, outdoor picnic spots, and spectacularly beautiful venue with its carpet of vineyards, tree-lined avenues, and misty mountain vistas is an enormous farming operation, the scale of which few are aware of. As it turns out, wine and food are just two pages out of a story that spans a multitude of chapters and the “May Day Meander” is going to finally reveal the entire picture for visitors to appreciate.
So, diarise Wednesday 1st May 2019 because this is not something you’ll want to miss!
Located near the outset of the Franschhoek Wine Valley, in Drakenstein, Allée Bleue farm is home to a vast portfolio of farming activities. And it’s about time that the public got to look into this grand old dame of the Cape Winelands and appreciate her full offering.
Did you know that Allée Bleue is one of the biggest producers of fresh herbs in the Western Cape, supplying many of the big name supermarkets? Its soils are also home to scores of hectares of fruit orchards, such as plums, peaches, persimmons, and other p-fruit that escape me now. And then there are three varietals of olive groves that produce table olives, quality extra virgin olive oil, and delicious olive products like tapenade, salsa, and olive bread.
Allée Bleue farm sells the vast majority of their agricultural products but also, of course, uses them in the kitchen to cook up sublime salsas, spreads, chutneys, pestos, tarts, salads, and – well, you name it! Anything edible set before you at the restaurant, bistro, or in one of Allée Bleue’s signature pre-packed picnics has likely been grown in their proverbial backyard.
This is what the May Day Meander is about: a showcase of Allée Bleue’s multi-faceted offering, from the vineyards and groves to the orchards and herbs. And, on Thursday 7th March, we descended upon the farm to preview the experience that awaits guests on Wednesday 1st May!
May Day Meander itinerary
We began our journey at the tasting centre before taking a slow walk to the cellar, where we were treated to a nip of the Allée Bleue Sauvignon Blanc 2018 and a platter of freshly baked bread, herb salsa, and basil pesto made from their very own herbs by the wonderful chef Gordon Dovey.
At the winery, we tasted the Starlette range Chenin Blanc 2018, which is oaked for six months, lending it a pleasant nuttiness and vanilla essence, juxtaposed by fresh, citrus flavours. For food, we were treated to a divine spread of savoury Parmesan and herb biscuits, a citrus-based thyme salsa, which I would happily drink out the bottle, and lovely little lemon curd tartlets.
At the next station, in the gardens, we tasted my favourite of all Allée Bleue’s white wines: the beguiling Isabeau 2015 from the estate’s Platinum range. Named after a woman who met a tragic end here (thrown by her horse) and whose spirit is now rumoured to watch over the vineyards, Isabeau is a Chardonnay, Semillon, and Viognier blend of great elegance, body, and character (much as I imagine its namesake to have been).
The food laid out was whole camembert wheels with caramelized ginger, mushroom and cream cheese puff pastries, and a coriander and fresh ginger salsa, which we scooped up with the estate’s daily made melba toast.
Over the course of two blissful hours, we meandered from spot to spot, sampling the estate’s beautiful wines (the Platinum range Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot, and Allée Bleue Brut Rosé 2014) and grazing our way through extraordinary platters of freshly baked breads, herb salsas, fillet steak skewers, estate olives and olive tapenades, and fruit tarts. It was a magical day of wine and food, enjoyed in the estate’s breathtakingly beautiful vineyards, orchards, gardens, and cellars.
Diarise the date
The first-ever May Day Meander starts at 10:00 in the wine tasting centre and takes guests on an extraordinary tour through the lesser-explored areas of the estate. Along the way, you take in several food and wine stops, where you can learn from members of Allée Bleue’s team about wine, fruit production, fresh herbs, olives and olive oil. Upon your return, you can choose between sharing a cheese and charcuterie platter at the tasting room, a “Chicnic” basket, served at a garden table under the oaks, or a “Picnic-On-The-Go” basket, to be enjoyed on the estate’s manicured lawns.
The cost is R175 to R335 per adult (depending on your choice of lunch) and R105 per child. So, diarise the date – it’s a public holiday so you have no excuse – and taste all the fruits of this extraordinary historic estate!
For bookings and enquiries, please contact Nadia at email@example.com. Bookings and pre-payments are essential to confirm your spot. Bookings close 48 hours before the event. www.alleebleue.com