My last full day in South Africa finished off with a bang. I may not be much of a wine connoisseur, but at the same time I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my last day in the country than driving around Stellenbosch, sampling wines, and eating braai, chocolates and biltong. Mention food and drink and I’m there!
After 3 weeks of fast-paced backpacking, Sam and I were craving a relaxed day to indulge in a few earthly pleasures, so we joined Wine Flies Wine Tours for an outing that would have made Bacchus very, very proud.
The morning started off with a visit to Fairview, where we sampled 6 different wines paired with different cheeses. Now, I may not know much about wine, but I’m a huge cheese enthusiast, so the morning was off to a great start in my books.
We sampled Sauvignon Blanc with Camembert, Chenin Blanc with Feta, Viognier with Cambazola, Mourvèdre with a White Rock cranberry cheese that tasted more like cheesecake, and a few more pairings that delighted my taste buds.
My favourite wine at Fairview was the Sweet Red, which tasted like Christmas in a bottle. Sweet dessert wines are right up my alley.
From there, we continued on to Muratie, which was perhaps the most historic looking vineyard we visited that day.
Muratie felt frozen in time – crooked rooms filled with antique furniture, cobwebs draped across stained glass windows, and walls filled with paintings by one of its former owners. These were just a few of the details that added to its charm.
After sampling a few different bottles, we learned that this particular vineyard also happened to be the setting of a beautiful love story between Ansela, a slave girl born in the Cape, and Laurens, a German soldier in the service of the Dutch East Indian Company. Since Ansela was a slave, Laurens would regularly set on 3 day treks to come and visit her in the Slave Quarter in the Cape. This was a journey he completed for years until Ansela was finally released, baptized, and free to join him in Stellebosch. Today you can still see the oak tree that Ansela planted next to the home and it stands as a symbol of their enduring love. Ansela also has a wine named after her and it’s an award-winning bottle.
By the time we reached Middelvlei, we were all ready for lunch. As soon as we hopped out of the bus we were greeted by an adorable little Dachshund named Grappa who took it upon himself to act as the welcome committee and lead us through the winery with his tiny little steps.
We took some time to tour the winery and learn to pour a glass straight out of the barrel, and from there we made our way downstairs where a giant banquet table had been set up.
On the menu was a delicious braai that included Boerewors (South African sausage), Sosaties (meat on a skewer), and Braaibroodjie (grilled cheese sandwich), with plenty of salads and wine to go around. We finished everything on our plates!
Feeling stuffed from the meal and giddy from the wine, we boarded the bus again to continue on towards Lovane.
For some reason at this point our driver also pulled out a collection of funny hats which he passed down the bus. Having now sampled close to 15 different wines, everyone was in high spirits and we all relished the opportunity to dress up.
There were fedoras and cowboy hats, newsboy caps and straw hats embellished with flowers. We must’ve been quite the sight as we walked through the doors of Lovane.
Down in the basement, we got right down to business by sampling more wine. Here, the wines were paired with different types of chocolate. The two that caught my attention were: a dark chocolate with chilli flakes and a dark chocolate with sea salt. Perhaps not quite what you’d expect when pairing chocolates with wine, but the different flavours worked together wonderfully.
Our last stop of the day was at Villiera where we sampled different wines paired with biltong. In case you haven’t heard of it, biltong is a dried cured meat similar to beef jerky, except it undergoes a bit of a different curing process. It’s usually shaved into thin slices and it is truly addicting. (Biltong taste test video here.)
I have to admit, by the end of the day all the wines and wineries were starting to resemble each other (perhaps a sign of a few too many glasses on my part…), so it’s a good thing we called it a day by the time we finished at the fifth vineyard!
Feeling a little buzzed, we all boarded the bus one last time trying not to clink the bags full of red, white and rosé that we had collected along the way. And just like that, the day was over.
I can’t say I know my wines much better, but it sure was a great way to experience Stellenbosch!
Have you ever gone wine tasting in Stellenbosch?
Which wines did you enjoy most?
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