It's no secret that the Cape Winelands is a piping hot destination for wine-loving travellers during winter. Every year, wine flies fly down from across the country to attend winter wine festivals like Wacky Wine, the South African Cheese & Wine Festival and Wine on the River.
The latter, Wine on the River, is particularly loved. Wine drinkers love it so much that it has been voted as the best Winelands Event or Festival in the 2017 Klink Awards.
SEE: The very Best of the Winelands for 2017 - as voted by you
Perhaps it's the reviving and soothing qualities of water, but there is just something special about drinking wine on the banks of a river, or on a houseboat cruising down the water...
But while Wine on the River is happening in the Western Cape, another river-bound wine festival in the more northern parts of SA is stealing hearts and making waves.
Though the annual Vaal River Meander Wine Route is already celebrating its 14th event this year - many South Africans, and especially Western Cape-bound South Africans, know nothing about this Vereeniging fest.
Imagine my surprise when, on a recent road trip from Joburg to Bloem through the quirky Parys, I stumbled upon an almost otherworldly river oasis, which not only provided wine... they provided wine on the iconic Vaal River!
The Riviera on Vaal Hotel, taken over by Bon Hotels a couple of years ago, is a 45-minute drive from Johannesburg taking you directly to the banks of the Vaal. And while the drive from Joburg to Vereeniging isn't particularly scenic, the scene changes somewhat as you approach the water...
The 91-room hotel, a converted farmhouse from the 1800s, is situated right on a bend of the scenic Vaal River - offering four multi-purpose venues and a range of exciting team building activities. The hotel caters to the corporate and conference markets, as well as families and leisure travellers.
A pamper breakaway is also possible thanks to the Zogvliet Spa, and Golf enthusiasts will be delighted with the Country Club, while a variety of water sports are also on offer.
The river itself is another drawcard altogether. From skiing to jet boarding, fly boarding and boating - the options are endless on the Vaal. And every year in summer, the party is never-ending as the temperatures soar close to 40°Cs.
In winter, however, things slow down along the Vaal River - which creates a romantic and laid back atmosphere to just take in the surroundings - and perhaps do some fishing - with a glass of wine in hand.
ALSO SEE: Vaal Escape: A stone’s throw to leisure
Wine on the River - in Gauteng?
While it may be more than a thousand miles away from the Cape Winelands, the Vaal is right up there when it comes to hosting wine tours. The annual Vaal River Meander Wine Route celebrates its 14th year in 2017, and BON Hotel Riveriera on Vaal is one of the proud destinations hosting the unique event.
The Vaal River Meander Wine Route starts off with the official launch on Saturday, 24th of June at The Vaal River Wine Festival at Stonehaven on Vaal.
Festival-goers will be treated to a choice of over 200 wines both on land and aboard luxury cruisers on the Vaal, all of which will be included in the R100 entry fee. The cruisers will depart for 45-minute cruises at regular intervals from 12:00 – 20:00 on the Saturday.
The Vaal River Wine Festival has a limited number of tickets available – so bclick here to find out more - and don't say we didn't warn you.
After the launch festival, the first day of the 6-week Vaal River Meander Wine Route will start on Sunday, 25 June. The Wine Route is then on every Saturday and Sunday at more than a dozen venues in the Vaal until Sunday, 30 July.
Make sure you get your Vaal River Meander Wine Route Passport so you can see the selection of venues you can visit and which wines they will each be showcasing.
If you'd like to make a weekend of it, it's best to check into BON Hotel Riviera on Vaal to avoid having to drive. During winter this year, you can do a three-night's stay for the price of only two nights, at R867 per night.
Breakfast buffet at the restaurant, restaurants, Matthews and Matthews Terrace, is included in the price.
Disclaimer: Louzel Lombard Steyn was hosted by the BON Hotel Riviera on Vaal, including flights, meals and accommodation.
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- Epic South African winter retreats to soak in the season
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- Vaal Escape: A stone’s throw to leisure