#WINEFORGOOD: Barrels & Beards - one of the best parties of the year (with a conscience)

Monday, 20 April, 2020
The tale of how an infuriating stubble became a ten-year tradition all started one night (after a few bottles of quality Bot River wine...) when our wonderfully eclectic, handsome bunch of very talented Bot River Winemakers challenged each other to grow the most luxuriant beard during harvest. This became known as The Great Bot River Beard-off.

The challenge stuck. It begins with an event called the "Shave Off" on the 1st February which marks the start of harvest as well as the start of a new beard. You see, when harvest starts, it waits for no-one, and when the fruit is ripe, and the cellars are hopping there is little time for sleep and even less for time-intensive activities like shaving…

And then, at the end of harvest, the now much hairier winemakers arrive for the Barrels & Beards Parade – a free-wheeling cabaret where they show us their beards in the most creative way possible - and are rated by a panel of strict, but slightly bewildered, judges. This is a hilarious highlight of the Cape wine calendar featuring an all-star cast from: Anysbos, goat farmers with a weakness for wine; Beaumont Family Wines, home to the region’s oldest wine cellar; Gabriëlskloof, the food and wine courtyard on a koppie; Genevieve MCC, a uniquely Bot River bubbly; Luddite Wines, champion of dry-land farming and syrah; Ecology Lifestyle Farm, the single vineyard-single variety winery; Villion Family Wines, a wine producer “tempting fate with faith”; Jayne's, the artistic expressions of a female wine pioneer; Waterleliefontein, lawyers with hearts full of oil and wine; and Wildekrans Wine Estate; where wine, food and wide, wild open spaces meet.

All this merriment is centred around an important charity auction of truly special Bot River wines which benefits a number of school-level educational projects in the region. This is followed by a fantastic dinner known as the Botriviera feast. And did we mention that this is also an opportunity for you to taste the new vintage’s wines straight from the barrel? As well as special release wines? And also, to meet the winemakers... make new friends... and party the night away?

The 2019 Bot River Barrels & Beards raised over R110 000 with the bulk of the funds donated towards the Bot River Education Foundation Green shoots programme. The Botrivier Education Foundation ( BEF) is a voluntary organisation who aim to assist promising students in high school to reach entry into university through mentoring and contact tutoring.


There are plenty of good news stories about upliftment and transformation in the South African Wine Industry. The #wineforgood website, launched by wine.co.za in June 2016, hosts all the positive stories from the winelands, of which there are plenty. wine.co.za has made April a focus for #wineforgood stories. Share them far and wide and spread the good news about South African wine.