Wine a little, it will make you feel better
Wine lover or not, a visit to the Cape Winelands is an absolute must while you are here. The region’s breathtaking beauty, with majestic mountain backdrops is magnificent, while being steeped in rich culture and history. Rolling vineyards and quaint Cape Dutch homesteads await you, as well as award-winning wine farms offering some of the country’s best wines. This week, Robyn, Helene and I decided to try out one of the many, many tours there are to choose from.
This time we chose to try out another tour operator who was recommended to us, called “African Story”. We were picked up around 8 o’clock in the morning, very excited about the day that lied ahead of us. We were joined on the tour by an American couple who seemed pretty informed about the world of wines and an Italian man who currently resides in the Congo.
The weather was being very kind to us on this day… frankly from a Swedish point of view; this is NOT what I would call winter!
The first stop was Villiera Estate, a family-run vineyard. This farm prides itself on great Sparkling Wine or Cap Classique as it is called here. We got to taste no less than seven different wines! And who would say no to a “champagne breakfast” in the middle of the week?
Next up was Tokara, a beautiful Estate, located in the Helshoogte valley, which links Stellenbosch to Franschoek. The wine farm was a bit more luxurious, but the wines was also of an equally good standard. The added bonus was you could indulge in viewing an excuisite art exhibition while sipping on your wine or brandy.
By now, we were starting to feel a bit hungry, and we headed for a restaurant on a farm near Franschoek. The delicious food, wine and the great company on such a beautiful day – wow, I just couldn’t help myself fading off into a dream of actually retiring here someday, buy me a little house with a porch where I can sit all day, sipping wine from a nearby farm... I am already dreading the day when I have to leave Cape Town. But at the moment, December still feels far away ...
We headed off to our next tasting. The drive offered spectacular views of the surrounding valleys. We arrived at Solms Delta, the third vineyard of the day. This farm takes on an environmental and social responsibility, which was evident as soon as we entered the gates and drove up to the main building. For example they offer substantial share-holding to historically disadvantaged tenant workers on the estate and they have established a museum on the premises which provides visitors with an authentic experience that does not gloss over the facts of the past, but explores the history from all points of view, with special emphasis on the personal experiences of dispossessed Khoi-San, pioneer settlers, slaves, and the current resident laborers — who remembers only too well what it meant to be a farm-worker in the apartheid years. There is a lot more to this than just the great wine.
Our very last stop for the day was the famous Fairview Winery in the Paarl region, where they not only produce wine, but cheese as well. In fact, they are the leading producer of artisanal and specialty cheeses in South Africa! We got to pick out six different wines for our tasting and there was plenty of cheese to go with all of them. Apparently this farm is one of the most popular attractions in the Cape Winelands, and no wonder – the combination of wine and cheese is just perfect.
The day had unfortunately come to an end, however as we were ahead of schedule, we were able to make an extra stop at a farm on the way home, where we got to do a chocolate tasting. What a treat. My overall first impression with "African Story" was great, they definitely get a gold star for doing those little extra things which makes the day special!