Wine tourism at the tip of Africa has many things making it unique. Enormous diversity in soil type, landscape and climatic conditions result in unique and distinctive wines; they can be fruity but also reveal earthy flavours. Country’s warm climate results in high alcohol wines, with the cool ocean breeze helping them to retain the bright acidity to keep things fresh.
Just in recent years I started to really appreciate wine, or does that mean I am finally growing into mature and sophisticated human being? I love a good wine tasting, but I must admit that I’m not extremely knowledgeable when it comes to wine. In truth, my favourite part of wine tasting isn’t even the wine itself. It’s the rituals and beautiful locations that tend to come with it. However, when I am at traditional food and wine pairing and sommelier asks me what do I taste, I just don’t have a good answer besides ‘Wine, I can taste wine.’ That’s why I was so excited to go on a little tour around Cape Town vineyards and discover what goes beyond that glass of wine.
It’s been incredible three days exploring all the wine farms, and there are so many of them, that it was hard to choose which ones to visit in such a short time (because how much wine can you have in a day to be enthusiastic and do it all over again the next day). So I did a mini guide to wine tasting around Cape Town and included some of my favourite wine farms, places to eat and wine pairings to try if you’re too have only a short time to visit.
Lanzerac Wine Estate offers a selection of fine cheeses, homemade chutneys, breads and meats. Lanzerac was also the first Estate to produce Pinotage in the world. They have a stunning outdoor surroundings an impressive tasting room but what stood the most for me is their pairings; this beautiful estate took chocolate and wine to a whole new level.
In my eyes Wine + Chocolate = Happiness. This equation may look simple, but pairing wine with chocolate can be a tricky attempt. Both wines and chocolate come in a large range of flavours and weights, which makes pairing the right type of chocolate with the right type of wine, a precise science.
Going from the white chocolate to their dark cinnamon orange to their premium chardonnays and pinotage, my taste buds hasn’t been left disappointed.
Where to stay while exploring Stellenbosch
It’s going to be hard to indulge in all the wine tasting and pairing in just a few days! A good base is essential while exploring South Africa’s wine region in order to fully enjoy what it has to offer. Our base was Life and Leisure, situated close to town centre, which means we could easily leave our car and reach wine estates and restaurants on foot.
The rooms in Life and Leisure are designed with optimal comfort in mind. Room we stayed in had a small kitchenette and a super comfortable king size bed to ensure we have a good nights sleep.
Chic furniture, paintings, colours and playful patterns create a unique luxury feeling. They also have an outdoor pool, which you can use as a rest base after strolling around wineries. Breakfast in the morning was one of the best I’ve had in years; large selection of meats, vegetable, bread, fruits and set meals.
What I liked the most about my stay was the friendly and helpful staff. They took a great pleasure to make us feel welcomed, we even found a fruit plate with sherry and a little welcome note in our room.
Franschhoek is a smaller wine tasting town, just 30 min drive by car from Stellenbosch. It’s a quieter version of the above but the amount of wine estates will keep you occupied no less than its neighbouring Stellenbosch. It is known as the country’s food and wine capital. What also attracts tourists is a famous Wine tram– a perfect and authentic way to discover the true essence of the picturesque vineyards and breath-taking scenery.
We’ve arrived too late to enjoy the tram and because of that, had to get a driver. Because who wants to limit their units when all this wine is around?!
In one day we managed o visit a few (more like 6) wine farms.
Rickety Bridge Pinotage was my first bottle of red wine I’ve ever purchased. And the reason behind it is that I am not a fan of reds. But after wine tasting here I was actually feeling those blueberry and plum notes, which indeed made me get a bottle. Tasting venue is in idyllic setting overlooking vineyards and the magnificent Wemmershoek Mountains offering relaxed wine tasting experience. We tried 5 of their recommended wines and had a tour around the cellar, which I truly enjoyed!
Another place that I absolutely loved was The Franschhoek Cellar. We really enjoyed wine and cheese pairing in their spectacular tasting room. It consisted of 3 white and 3 red wine and matching cheese sets, but knowing my struggle with reds, waiter agreed to pair one set with Rose wines. It’s a bit of a cheat from my side but boy how I loved this experience!
While in Franschhoek you should also enjoy local foods it has to offer. We had lunch at Café Bon Bon, which was a wonderful little find. It’s utterly charming interior is wonderfully complemented by a talented pianist and lemon meringue pie is just mouth-watering.
To really embrace all the regions has to offer, I would recommend staying at least a week exploring Stellenbosch and Franschhoek vineyards. The province is hailed as being one of the best in the world for wine lovers. And if you’re not one of them, there is still plenty to do, see and drink.
Disclaimer: Thank you to wineries for hosting us, as always all opinions remain my own.