Our last full day in Cape Town was a sunny Sunday that saw us rise bright and early ready to head off through Stellenbosch on our WINE TOUR. Yes, this is 100% the best possible way to spend your weekend.
Our lovely guide Wouter from Wine Flies picked us up from our apartment building first thing, ready to begin our adventure. Wine Flies promises to take you beyond the typical tourist experience, and whilst I can’t say I am now a sudden expert in the history of South African wine making I can wholeheartedly say that we had a truly authentic experience sitting down with the wine makers themselves, getting to know this fantastic (and delicious) region.
We had a wonderfully diverse tour group with travellers from across the globe at different points in their journeys – from the businessman taking the chance to explore the local landscape to a couple of honeymooners closing out their holiday – and Wouter did a great job of getting us all talking and getting to know each other without a hitch.
Wine Farm #1 – Vergenoegd (Far Enough) Wine Estate
Stop number one was Vergenoegd Wine Estate, where there has been a farm since Pieter de Vos was granted the land in 1696. That sense of history can still be felt today, with a beautiful old farm house, lake and a very special group of ducks creating the most stunning of settings.
Each stop saw us taste five wines (meaning we had a tried a total of 25 wines by the end of the day, with a few free extras thrown in), though rest assured they were taster size. Still, that certainly does not mean we weren’t suitably merry by the end of the day.
We happily settled in the shade, hiding from the already baking (in this Brit’s opinion at least) South African sun, to learn the best ways to taste our wine. Now, if we hadn’t already bonded with the rest of the group the gargling, bubbling and all round hilarious of our wine testing techniques certainly would have done it.
We paired our wines with my all time favourite South African food – billtong a.k.a. the food of the Gods. Think jerky but 100000x better and you’re nearly there.
And soon enough, Vergenoegd’s famous Indian Runner ducks came out to bid us goodbye, all 1000 of them.
Wine Farm #2 – Lovane Wine Estate
The next stop was Lovane, a boutique wine estate just a short drive away. Whilst the setting didn’t quite have the same wow factor as Vergenoegd it was still a great visit. We were taken down into the cellar and entered a joyous pool of cold air, a welcome break from the baking South African sun up above. After spending some time wandering through the wine barrels we met our host for a wine and chocolate tasting.
Lovane is a boutique wine estate and offered some seriously delicious white wines, including my first purchase of the day. These were beautifully paired with some seriously divine locally made chocolates, all with their own quirky flavours to bring out a new essence in the wine.
I will say that Lovane didn’t offer the same level of experience as some of the other estates we visited (our host was also serving other groups at the same time so we didn’t quite have that same level of attention) but it still made for a fun addition to our trip nevertheless.
Wine Farm #3 – Middelvlei Wines
Our third stop at Middelvlei was also our lunch stop. Wouter took us on a short tour of the estate, showing us how to use a wine thief to pinch a sneaky drink from the barrels, whilst lunch was prepared.
Before long, our food was ready. A traditional South African braai (like a BBQ). Although, I must say, there’s nothing like a braai in the garden at home with M and his family – that’s my version of traditional! We tasted various wines with our food, so I admit I was slightly distracted by eating over drinking at this point – those who know me well will more than understand that – and, considering we tasted 25 wines in one day I’m more than glad that was the case.
Wine Farm #4 – Muratie Wine Estate
Without a doubt, Muratie had the most fascinating history and stories that will always stick in my mind. Muratie had a more relaxed approach to tasting, with us standing with other groups in a beautiful historic room whilst trying a series of wines from the counter, though we still had the chance to quiz our host on the different blends and learn about the estate itself. You’ll have to forgive my lack of photos from this portion of our day, I was rather distracted by stories (and wine…).
The tasting room is a stunning space, filled with old photographs and artefacts from the estate itself. The back wall is absolutely covered in cobwebs, top to bottom. Naturally we had to find out a) what had happened to the cleaner and b) why on earth these were there! We were told that when the estate was sold to its current owners, part of the terms and conditions banned the altering of that wall in any particular way, it had to remain untouched. It was fascinating to see a piece of history simply frozen in time.
The sentimental stories continued as we learned of the estate’s great love story from the years of slavery, now (thankfully) so long ago. The land for estate was originally given by the, then Dutch, government to a young former soldier. He happened to fall in love with a slave girl living in Cape Town, many miles away. Week after week he would walk through the bush into the city to visit her. But of course, they could not be properly together for she was a slave and he was free. After many years a rich lady heard of the story and bought the young girl her freedom. On the day of their wedding the couple planted a small tree outside their home, which is still there today.
Wine Farm #5 – Mitres Edge
Mitres Edge was probably the best experience we had of the day. It is a small boutique wine estate which does absolutely no marketing and, instead, focuses on pure passion in their wine creation process which leads for absolutely stunning results. Although, I have to admit, I was very tempted to ask to join their team there and then (marketing geek right here).
We were greeted by a group of Great Danes, some more excited than others to see us! Our lovely host (whose name currently eludes me) who was also the owner of the estate, took us down into the cellar below the house for our tasting. What really added to the personal touch of this experience was that we were obviously in a family home, and were welcomed into it accordingly.
We all sat around a table, surrounded by the most gorgeous shelves and complete with plates of cheese ready for our tasting. Conversation flowed as flavours exploded in our mouths and we really built a connection with the wine we were drinking. M and I bought a number of bottles from Mitres Edge, including a couple of the Sholto which is quite possibly my favourite red to date (I feel like I’m cheating on Malbec here…).
Exhausted, and slightly inebriated, we all collapsed into the bus to be driven back to Cape Town. Just enough time for a quick nap before heading up to Table Mountain.