The annual Ayama Wines Artichoke Festival offers decadent Italian food and wine served amidst a quintessentially Cape backdrop, serving up locally grown produce, products and wines.

Nestled in the Paardeberg Country in Paarl, the annual Artichoke Festival held at Ayama Farms Wines brings a quintessentially Italian experience to South African shores, where artichoke fields give life to Italian dishes paired with locally grown wines.

Attilio and Michela Dalpiaz have, over the past five years, harvested decadent artichokes from their fields at Ayama Slent Farm(s) alongside their range of wines and olive oils, and bring their passion for Italian food to bear.

The Ayama festival today gives the Paardeberg Country community and its range of experienced farmers, artists, and winemakers a platform to showcase their produce and products.

“We launched the artichoke festival to get a day where everyone – South Africans and Italians – can get together and experience different recipes from artichokes and enjoy an Italian way of being together”, says Michela. “The festival is based on a full lunch – so we start from appetisers to dessert. Everything is made from artichokes.”

The festival empowers tourists to experience a range of Italian cultivars with their meal thanks to a series of innovative partnerships.

“Attilio is a fantastic chef, but to cook for 400 people as we had last year is a different ball game”, explains Michela. “So we partnered up with Pesce Azzurro… we got them to cook and to give the people the taste of the real Italian cuisine.”

“The menu of the Artichoke Festival was actually created to (give) the feeling of a trip to Italy and going through the different regions. Artichokes are an amazing vegetable – for us, it’s tradition. There is a season of artichokes and we all wait for that season. We can cook amazing dishes in the Roman tradition” says Enrico Di Giambattista, Co-Owner of Pesce Azzurro.

The annual event has in the past offered a live Italian band, painting exhibits and a market selling locally made crafts, salamis, cheeses, wines, gins and craft beers. Hikers are able to take to the scenic trails through the olive orchards, dams, and vineyards and enjoy the view from above, and guests can leisurely meander through the artichoke fields or enjoy a tractor ride through the vineyards and orchards while sampling Ayama’s very own Vermentino.

For interested visitors, pre-booking is essential to accommodate a full day experience at the festival; and the AYAMATECA farm stall is additionally open to accommodate guests wanting to take some of their famous olive oils, flours, freshly made bread, pasta, salt, vinegar and limoncello back home. 

For Michela, the annual festival is born out of a desire to craft a unique experience. “We love this farm as home… we don’t have any plan to go back to Italy besides for a holiday”, Michela adds. “The ultimate plan is to leave something that is special – we want to keep it as it is as much as we can, but we want to open it up to enjoy (as well).”