The story begins some years ago when a thoroughbred, wine drinking, hipster beard-wearing, voortrekker (that’s me, Johannes Nicolaas Coetzee or Jan-Nico Coetzee for people from the last outpost of the British Empire of Natal) decided to follow the wagon tracks of his forefathers of the likes of Piet Retief and his band of brothers, sisters, uncle, aunts, irate wife and oxen. This journey led me all along the N3, a sho’t left to Winterton on the R74, and eventually on a winding road that takes to the majestic Northern Drakensberg boarding the Freestate and here you will find The Cavern.

Owner run and managed, by Hilton and Megan Bedingham, this gem has become my home away from home, and it has nothing to do with their impressive and extensive cave of a cellar. Renovated and upgraded at the end of last year, you will find a selection of wines that can make any big city restaurant nervous. And you know what the kicker is? A stunning venue, loads of outdoor activities and a wine cellar selection at almost cellar door prices! I think, Piet Retief and his band of brothers…. and… and.. knew something more about the KwaZulu Natal Drakensberg than just the lush fertile soils.

The wine selection is enough to make this bearded voortrekker very proud. From rarities such as the sought after Beeslaar Pinotage, through to easy drinkers such as the Longridge Rouge, and plenty of vino in-between to try out. So don’t go for the usual suspects, and follow the voortrekker spirit and go for a wine from the last frontier – the route less travelled.

So the next time, you follow the wagon tracks to the majestic Northern Drakensberg, feel free to pull your laer (An oxwagon formation… hum… just Wikipedia it!) at The Cavern for one amazing experience for your brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and your not-so-irate wife. She will thank you for a cold glass of Sauvignon blanc, and you can carbo-load on their craft beer selection (that’s a story for another time!). The bonus is, that you don’t even need an air conditioning lacking ox-wagon for this trip!

Jan-Nico Coetzee

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