The Cape Winelands in South Africa
Whenever you are in Cape Town, a trip to the wine regions of South Africa is a must-visit! Being an absolute wine lover, I had already heard about the greatness of the South African wines before our trip to Cape Town – but we were not aware that most of them are so incredibly tasty. Besides, wine in Cape Town is – for the German tourist – very cheap. You get a good bottle in a restaurant for around 8 €. The vineyards and wine farms themselves are distributed in the so-called „Winelands“. A trip from Cape Town to wine regions Constantia Valley, Stellenbosch, or Franschhoek is very feasible within a day – provided you book a shuttle service or driver and don’t drive yourself. Otherwise, you should book a night or two in one of the beautiful accommodations that the country has to offer (I for instance will certainly do that next time I am in the area!).
As central Winelands like Stellenbosch or Paarl is more than an hour’s drive from Cape Town and we both love to drink wine, we had originally planned to spend one or two nights in the central Winelands. But for some reason, it turned out differently and we actually did the day tour by car… On my next visit, I would spend at least one night in a wine hotel – I like wine too much, the scenery of the wine-growing areas, and the unique atmosphere.
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On our day to the central wine country of South Africa, we actually managed three wineries (yes, three. No idea how the driver managed that…?!). The fourth winery on our list was in a different area and unfortunately didn’t fit into the route on that day. And if we both hadn’t gotten laid with food poisoning for two days of our holiday after our crazy trip to the „Wineland“ of South Africa – we probably would have visited one or the other wine farm on the other days. These three had to be enough for this vacation, but I would like to introduce them to you in more detail:
By the way, we had assumed to have a classic wine tasting with spitting glass and explanations about the different types of wine and production processes in advance. Instead, we had to realize – admittedly a little disappointed – that this is probably handled differently in South Africa than we know it from Italy, for example. So, in the end, a wine tasting is like a stay in a restaurant or bar. You book a table, order a specific (given) wine combination, and are served the wines bit by bit, including a short explanation.
Our first destination was the Babylonstoren, which lies between Paarl and Stellenbosch. The stylish Cape Dutch Wine Farm dates back to 1692 and is nestled against the striking mountains of the Drakenstein Valley, which creates a unique backdrop. In addition to the vineyards, there are extensive orchards and vegetable gardens on the property, which sometimes supply the in-house restaurant with fresh produce.
Besides beeing a first-class hotel, in which we will indeed treat ourselves to an overnight stay next time, mainly the restaurant Babel was very interesting for us with an offer of first-class wines and great food. The wine tasting in the light-flooded glasshouse of the restaurant was an extraordinary experience. Knowing that we had a lot to taste on this day, we chose the small wine tasting plus bread and in-house olive oil for a few euros and were especially convinced by the Chenin Blanc, which we – unfortunately only once? – bought directly at the estate. For the coffee lovers: There is a trolley in front of the restaurant that serves delicious coffee for little money, which I embraced after having three glasses of wine before lunch.
After an excellent start of our wine tour, we went to the Spier Winery, located south of Stellenbosch and is considered one of the most popular tourist destinations. We wanted to visit the Spier Wine Farm, mainly because we tried the Sauvignon Blanc in La Parada restaurant and loved it. In the winery, you can rent a picnic basket for around 14 € per person and eat on the – admittedly – kitschy area of the wine farm together with a picnic blanket. There is quiche, fresh baguette, egg salad, roast beef, cheese, cold cuts, butter… and wine. We enjoyed it (however, we both had food poisoning afterward…), although the winery admittedly doesn’t differ much from experience farms in Germany, such as the Karls Erdbeerhof or Spargelhöfe, and the nature – especially compared to the Babylonstoren – seemed somewhat artificial…
Besides the bottle of Sauvignon Blanc that we consumed during the picnic, there were two more bottles straight from the estate shop for around 3€ per bottle. Later, we regretted not having taken some more wines with us or at least ordered them to Germany, as they were a little more expensive in the local supermarket in Cape Town alone, and the wine tasted delicious. One more reason to fly to South Africa again.
PETER FALKE WINES
After our picnic lunch at the Spier winery, we were ready for another wine tasting, which led us to the winery of the German sock manufacturer Peter Falke. At Peter Falke’s winery in Stellenbosch, we went to the full and took six wines for tasting. At sunset, we sat on the restaurant’s terrace and enjoyed our amply-filled glasses of wine with olives and bread. The backdrop of the winery is beautiful. The view of the slopes of the Helderberg Mountains created a picturesque atmosphere the lower the sun was. Glass by glass, we learned that the philosophy of Peter Falke wines is to capture the essential essence of the terroir in the wine. Unfortunately, we did not like the atmosphere very much, as there were too many German tourists.
Nevertheless, the winery is undoubtedly worth a visit: the wine is tasty, we even took the Blanc de Noir with us. And I found it impressive to see with my own eyes what kind of estate the German hosiery manufacturer has built up. Apropos hosiery: By the way, you can also buy them at the winery, but at a much higher price than in Germany. But the wine bought directly at the estate is much cheaper than in Germany.
Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to Constantia Glen, which was actually on my list. The winery is closer to Cape Town and, therefore, easier to reach. But since we were mainly in Stellenbosch, Constantia Glen has to wait for us until our next visit. But that will come – for sure.