Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Winelands, Stellenbosch, South Africa

No trip to South Africa and Cape Town would be complete without a trip to the famous winelands –miles of glorious mountainous landscape and an obscene amount of vineyards and varieties of wine. We were  told that this is the perfect time to come as it was the ‘winelands secret season’… the summer days are just hanging on whilst we turn into Autumn, but there is a cooler taste in the air.

no trip to Cape Town is complete without a wine tour!!!

We arrived at our hotel in Stellenbosch at 9pm and normally booking on for a wine tour for the next day wouldn’t have been an issue. Except tomorrow in our case was Good Friday so no tours were operating on this bank holiday.

So Friday was spent being very chilled and lazy, taking spa treatments at the hotel poolside and taking a wander through the town. Not only was it teeny tiny but being the Easter weekend it also meant it was the terribly sleepy and didn’t  offer much action, most shops and restaurants were closed, including “Hussars Grill”, thee place people talk about dining at in the town.

wine + sun = good times

Saturday morning was our chance for wine tasting. With a perfect blue sky and the sun raining down on us, there was a beautiful glow to Stellenbosch.

I think you can take yourself around to the various wineries but we went with a tour. It certainly saves the hassle of navigating plus you’ll find out so much more about the wine making process, Stellenbosch and the various flavours etc. For example the wooded wines are more expensive as the oak barrels are over a $1000 each and can only be used a few times before they lose their flavour. Plus your knowledgeable guide will try to tailor the trip, taking you to the wineries that will suit your palate, and let them know what wines to demo.

We went for a three stop half day tour, which to be honest, was probably enough for me. Each place serves about 5 different wines for you to try plus the Boy was driving in the evening so after his token sip, the glasses were passed to me to finish. By 1pm, in the midday heat of 29*, I was nearly accidentally slipping into the pool and slipping off my seat at lunch. Three wineries were enough.  

First stop was “Stark Condé” where wine tasting occurred in cute little wooden hut on the lake, nestled in a valley with the mountains behind. Absolutely beautiful. The wines were pretty decent too, with me even finding the reds (the pinot noirs) drinkable; reds usually makes my throat burn. It is worth coming here for the view! There is also a café so you could also come here for a gorgeous lunch.

tasting takes place on the lake

it doesn't get  much gorgeous than this!!!

Stop number 2 was “Zorgvliet”, situated in a cute farm house with its cute Cape Dutch style of thick white walls and thatched roof.  Sitting in the sun and enjoying the tastiest of wines – this is what I go to work for! We started off sampling the bubbly, which we ended up buying a bottle of as even the Boy liked it!!! We also purchased a bottle of the sweet rose. Both 85 rand.

miles of greenery 

rolling mountains, beaming sunshine  -
wine tasting is my kind of day trip!!!

Our final stop was “Thelema”, where the wines are said to have a slightly menthol flavour here thanks to the rows of eucalyptus trees that surround the area acting as a wind break. To accommodate my taste in wines (aka as sweet as possible please) they gave me an additional two dessert wines to taste – so yellow in colour and sweet in taste, they were like drinkable honey. I had to buy a little bottle.

sweet dessert wine is my favourite 

classic oaked barrels 

If you are looking to buy….

You can take 3 bottles of nine each back in to the UK and you can buy a padded ‘case’ that fits six bottles. We are flying via Dubai, a dry country, so can’t take any booze through, so we just bought a few bottles for us to enjoy whilst we are here – a bubbly, a rose and a dessert wine. The prices ranged from 45 to 85 rand, which at the moment with the stronger pound, equals about £2.50 and less than a fiver for the bubbly!!!

Don’t think this trip is for wine drinkers only, you’re hugely mistaken if you do. The Boy doesn’t like wine that much, plus he had to drive later so was limited to a sip at each tasting, but he enjoyed the whole experience as much as I did. He even liked most of the wines in the end as these were uniquely blended and good quality, so you could be converted!!!

the thicker the vine, the older the plant

We stayed at River Manor in Stellenbosch. An old Cape Dutch style building maintaining the historic feel of past times. With its dark wooden furniture and old vintage items (think old books in the bathroom) the fixtures and fitting are in keeping with the feel. 

X x X 

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