South African Winelands

South Africa has many amazing areas for wine tasting and many delicious wines which are a great value for their quality. Perhaps the most known wine region in South Africa is Stellenbosch which has glorious views, amazing wines and is a must stop for an oenophile but there are also several other wine regions worth visiting

Robertson Wine Valley

Robertson Valley is a few hour drive from Cape Town thru beautiful countryside on Route 62. It is surrounded by mountains and offers lovely views in a quiet pastoral setting which is also known for Ostrich farming. While we were visiting Robertson, the annual Wine on the River event was taking place. Put on by Robertson Valley Wine Association, Wine on the River take place on the banks of the Breede River at the Goudmyn Farm between Robertson and Bonnievale. The outdoor event includes live music, food, wine tasting from 32 participating wineries and the chance to ride a boat on the river and relax and is a lot of fun.

Robertson Valley has 48.7 million vines and produces about 199 000 tons of wine grapes with 14.25% of the South Africa’s total vines.  Wine has been made in the Robertson Wine Valley since the laste 1800’s and at the present time there are 47 wineries from Ashton, Bonnievale, McGregor and Robertson. The area is mainly known for Chardonnay, Shiraz and Méthode Cap Classique South African Sparkling Wine.  They host events 4 times a year in March, June, August and October and I highly recommend trying to time your visit to attend one but if you can’t it is worth a visit to see the lovely scenery on Route 62, and visit some of the wineries. For more details on Robertson Wine Valley and information on their quarterly wine events visit www.robertsonwinevalley.com

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While in Robertson I recommend a stay at Rosendal Winery & Wellness Retreat a unique country guesthouse and spa. Located in the Klaasvoogds Valley this guesthouse offers lovely views in a peaceful setting that is perfectly located to visit the many wineries in the region.  On check in you are welcomed to the guesthouse with a glass of their award winning wine and have the opportunity to taste more.  There is a pool onsite and each room has a terrace to sit on to relax and enjoy the views and breakfast can be enjoyed outside on a balcony overlooking the beautiful countryside. This is a charming place to stay relax and explore the great wineries in this region.  It also has a spa offering treatments and a renowned restaurant where you can enjoy dinner.  To book a room goto www.http://www.rosendalwinery.com/

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Cape Winelands

Cape Winelands located just an hour from Cape Town are comprised of three towns Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl. The area is surrounded on all sides by picturesque mountains offering breathtaking views and is known not only for its wine but also its delicious food.

For a delicious meal with a spectacular view of the winelands I suggest you start your visit to Cape Winelands at Le Petite Ferme in Franschhoek. Le Petite Ferme is a guest house restaurant and winery.  It is located on the mountain overlooking the Franschhoek Valley allowing you to enjoy the glorious view while feasting on deliciously prepared rustic food and wine and is a perfect introduction to the region. We enjoyed a tasty  lunch of creamy snoek spring roll, whole oak smoked trout, a specialty of the region and dark chocolate mousse with black cherries in a merlot sauce for dessert.  http://www.lapetiteferme.co.za/

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For a truly unforgettable feast and amazing wines, you must visit Babylonstoren in Franschhoek. This property has a huge garden where they grow all their own produce for their restaurants which it is fun to wander thru before or after you lunch.  You can book a tour to see the winery and tour the wine making facilities and should definitely go to the tasting room to taste Babylonstoren’s amazing wines. If you want a spectacular meal, be sure to book a table at Babel on the winery grounds but be forewarned, it is so popular you must make reservations for lunch at least 2 months in advance.  A meal here is truly an incredible experience.  The food is beautifully presented and tastes as good as it looks with all the vegetables either grown in the garden onsite or locally sourced and they are paired with the phenomenal wines made onsite at the winery! http://www.babylonstoren.com/

 

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Stellenbosch Paarl and Franschhoeck are all quaint towns with not only vineyards but lots of shops, restaurants and markets. Many of the wineries offer food pairings and are located in beautiful buildings with great views. There are many boutique hotels and also many working wine farms in the area which also offer comfortable accommodations.

Devon Valley Hotel in Stellenbosch was originally built in 1947 and renovated in 2008. It overlooks the valley offering glorious views of the Helderberg Mountains, vineyards and olive groves. It is located right in the middle of Stellenbosch providing easy access to many of the wineries. Onsite it houses SylvanVale Vineyards whose wines you can taste with a food pairing on the balcony overlooking the valley. They also have a restaurant and bar onsite and included with the cost of your room is breakfast which is a nice spread that you can eat on the balcony enjoying the lovely view of the mountains and vineyards in the valley.  http://devonvalleyhotel.com/

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If you want to stay on a working wine farm, L’Avenir Lodge in Stellenbosch overlooks the wine valley and is situated in an area of the Stellenbosch winelands known as the golden triangle just below the Simonsberg Mountains. The property has a Boules court and rim-flow pool with chaise lounges to relax on.  The lodge is elegant peaceful and relaxing. Guests can stroll thru the vineyards, relax at the pool and enjoy complimentary wine tasting at L’Avenir winery including their award-winning Pinotage wines and the best part of all is you can walk up to your room after your tasting without having to drive anywhere.  http://www.lavenirestate.co.za/

 

L'Avenir Lodge

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Eikendal Lodge is a guesthouse located right in the midst of the vineyards used to make Eikendal wines. You literally drive thru the vineyards to get to the guesthouse which is very charming with a relaxed country feel.  On arrival you are offered Eikendal wines to taste and there is an Italian Restaurant at the winery should you choose to eat onsite. The owners of Eikendal provide support to a Cheetah Rescue Center in Somerset West so as a guest at the Lodge if you are lucky you can get free passes to go visit the center and pet the cheetahs which is really a cool perk!  http://www.eikendallodge.co.za  http://www.cheetah.co.za

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Hemel en Aarde

This wine valley is located just outside of Hermanus a town know for whale watching. Because its is close to the ocean is has the perfect climate for Chardonnnay and Pinot Noir.  There are 18 wineries in this region all located pretty close together making winetasting quite easy.

For a unique experience, food and wine pairing experience, visit Creation Wines.  Creation Wines is located on a dirt road off of Route 320.   Owners Carolyn and JC Martin bought this land as virgin sheep farm in 2002 with the idea to build a world class winery. The tasting room has large glass walls allowing a spectacular view of vineyards and Baylon Torren Peak and is a lovely place to spend an afternoon.   They make a nice variety of wines and offer some fun and unique pairing menus.

For about $14 you can do a guided food and wine pairing of 8 wines each paired with a canape.  The first pairing is 2014 Creation Sauvignon Blanc paired with pineapple & basil gaspacho w/ scallops.   The wine has amazing tropical flavors and nice acidity that is nicely complimented by the fruit and creamy texture of the soup.  Next is the 2014 Creation Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Blend with parmesean short bread sundried tomato bocconcini and basil.  This pairing provides an interesting mix of tropical flavors from the Sauvignon Blanc and saltiness from the Semillon and savory shortbread.  The third pairing is Creation Chardonnay paired with a prawn topped with avocado and citrus vanilla mayonnaise.  This wine has a nice balance of fruit spice and vanilla flavors from the oak used in making the wine that is nicely balanced with the citrus and saltiness of the prawn.  The fourth pairing is 2013 Pinot Noir with a variety of flavors including berry, spice & vanilla paired with beetroot topped with goatsmilk cheese panna cotta and lentil salsa.  This paring adds a nice variety of texture and the earthiness of the beet to compliment the many flavors of the wine. The fifth pairing is Creation Merlot with cauliflower and gorgonzola soup with sourdough herbed croutons.  This pairing brings out the bold fruit and mocha flavors  of the wine with a nice mouth feel that stands up well to the big bold gongonzola flavors of the soup.   The sixth paring of the Creation Red Bordeaux Blend of Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon & Petite Verdot had nice depth with great tannins textures and flavors of currant and blackberry which melds perfectly with rare springbock and mushroom. In fact, I liked this pairing so much that it’s what I ended up having for lunch after completing the 8 course canape tasting.  The seventh paring is Creation Syrah 2103  paired with Asian Five spice pulled pork on a crunchy wonton with prune and darjeeling tea pure.  This pairing really brought out the spiciness of the wine.  Finally the Grenache with savory and earthy flavors was paired with duck and a malay aioli as the last pairing.

I highly recommend the canape pairing as it gives you great insight into the texture and flavors of the 8 Creation wines and demonstrates how food can really enhance the enjoyment of wine.   If you come with your kids there is a special pairing menu of food and nonalcoholic drinks or if you do not want to drink wine or are pregnant or the designated driver you can pair the canapes with tea There also is a wine and chocolate pairing option.   There truly is something for everyone at Creation Wine and the setting is so beautiful and relaxing you will likely want to extend your time at the winery and stay for lunch.   The winery offers a lunch menu with full portions of any of the parings  from the tasting menu with a glass of wine and for a real day of gluttony you can also order dessert. http://www.creationwines.com/

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The perfect place to stay while visting Hemel en Aarde is High Season Farm offering self catering cottages for rent.  High Season Farm is a working cattle farm, in fact a new calf was born while we were staying there. It is just down the road from the wineries so if you want to go wine tasting you do not have far to go. It is also not far from Hermanus so you can also drive into the town there without much trouble. On check in you are provided fresh milk from the farm and homemade shortbread cookies which is a nice touch. The cottages are fully equipped with pots pans and utensils so you can cook your meals in or eat out. There is a fireplace with wood provided to keep you warm and barbeques outside if you want to have a braii.  http://www.highseasonfarm.co.za/

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Where ever you go wine tasting in South Africa you are sure to have a great experience!  The people are very friendly, the views are gorgeous and the wines are really quite good.    Hopefully more great South African wines will soon be imported and available for purchase in the United States.  Either that, or we’ll just have to go back for another visit!

What’s your favorite place to go wine tasting in South Africa?

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