When most people think of South Africa the term “wine tasting” does not come to mind. Especially when the stores carry a very small (if any) selection of South African Wines. However, this wine region dates back to the 17th century and in the past decade their high quality wines are coming in at low budget prices.
The Cape Winelands consist of five towns in the heart of the Western Cape and is only a 2 hour drive outside of Cape Town. Although considered New World wine, the Cape Winelands started planting vines in 1679. With a Mediterranean Climate – hot/dry summers, cool/wet winters – and soils that range from sandy to decomposed granite, the region can produce some seriously amazing wines. Chenin Blanc is South Africa’s favorite white, being light and crisp, and pairing perfectly with Mediterranean fare. As for reds, South Africa created the Pinotage varietal, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, bursting with bold berry flavors followed by subtle hints of tobacco and chocolate.
The whimsical town of Stellenbosch is the leading wine producer in the region, and the 2nd oldest town in South Africa. Not only does it have a small town feel, it is also flanked by Stellenbosch, Jonkershoek, Drakenstein, and Simonsberg Mountains, providing for jaw dropping scenery with snow capped peaks and streets lined with ancient oak trees. With more than a 150 wineries, Stellenbosch makes for a perfect extension to your South African Holiday.
Where to Stay ~
Asara ~ An enchanting estate that started as a farm in 1691, this 5-star luxury hotel caters to your every destination need. With four different dining options, ranging from a deli to an ornate grand dining room with crystal chandeliers and luxuriously decadent leather chairs that create a feeling of opulence far beyond 5 stars. If your “dream” destination is pictured as staying in deluxe linens, waking up to tea on your balcony overlooking a pond full of black swans with a panoramic view of mountain ranges, then Asara will not disappoint.
Vineyards to Try ~
De Trafford ~ Set on the stunning Mont Fleur farm this vineyard has been family owned since 1976. Small and intimate, this is how quintessential wine tasting should be – surrounded by barrels streaked with red wine stains, a historic old wine press, and beautiful works of art. The art by the way is created by the owners wife, Rita. Each year Rita paints a new label for each vintage of their chenin blanc, and they are as elegant as they are beautiful.
Waterford Estate ~ I could go on and on about this Mediterranean styled villa. I could explain how you will fall in love with their flawless floor plan, the impeccable brick arch designs throughout their courtyard, the dogs that greet you at the door with lazy smiles – especially the fine Rhodesian Ridgeback. But instead I will say two words: wine and chocolate. Chocolatier Richard Von Geusau and Senior wine maker Kevin Arnold have created one of the finest pairings I’ve ever experienced. If you visit Stellenbosch this is one thing you do not want to miss.
Simonsig ~ If you are a fan of sparkling wine then you cant miss the tasting experience at Simonsig. Beomg the first vineyard in South Africa to use the Méthode Champenoise, Simonsig creates dazzling sparkling wines layered with flavor. The vineyard is one of the few in the Cape Winelands to bottle and lable at the estate, and is a delight to experience.
Tokara~ Your day of tasting in a gorgeous wine country in South Africa wouldn’t be complete without a spectacular lunch break. Tokara sits on top of a hill in Stellenbosch and provides unparalleled panoramic views of the land beaming of vines and rolling slopes with blues skies. The menu is a la carte and changes seasonally outsourced from local farms. This is a delightful stop that will complete your remarkable Stellenbosch experience.
As always, thanks for stopping by!