We have been travelling to South Africa for over 15 years now. We try to visit new places as well as our old favourites, and this year we finally made it up to Kruger for a wonderful few days of game drives, before flying down to Port Elizabeth where we were on familiar territory once more. We did detour into the Karoo for a change, rather than taking the coastal Garden Route, so after a couple of nights in Prince Alfred and some stunning scenery driving over the Swartberg mountain pass we hit Route 62 – and the wine tasting could begin!
First stop: Stellenbosch
Setting off towards Stellenbosch, we just had to call in at Graham Beck in Robertson for a glass of bubbles. We often stay in Franschhoek but this trip we had opted for Stellenbosch and headed to check in to our hotel at Lanzerac wine estate. What an amazing place to stay; I would highly recommend this hotel and it's definitely the best hotel we have ever stayed in in South Africa. Now we were ready to hit the tasting rooms of Stellenbosch. As it was a beautiful day and we were staying at the bottom of the Helshoogte Pass anyway, we decided to go and see Delaire Graff - the last time we had been there was 2006 when it was only Delaire, so we were keen to see the Graff influence! It was indeed a stunning view up there. The buildings were absolutely amazing and it was quite strange to see a diamond shop right at the top of a mountain pass in the middle of nowhere. It was such a nice day we wanted the next wine tasting to offer great views and somewhere to sit outside for lunch.
Second stop: Paarl
So we headed over towards Paarl to return to one of our favourites: Glen Carlou. Since our first visit in 2004, it's one of the many tasting rooms we have watched transform over the years - I'm sure for our very first tasting they were just building the current tasting room and we actually had our wine tasting on the porch of the winemaker's house with their dogs running around! We sat on the balcony looking over the vines towards the mountains and started our tasting; the main objective being to decide which free glass of wine to have with our lunch, thanks to the vouchers in the Traveller’s Book. They always have some interesting wines to taste at the tasting room and we decided on a glass of the Gravel Quarry Cabernet Sauvignon to go with our ostrich steak. We were in serious danger of not adding any new vineyards to our list, so the next day we made the trip out past Paarl. As we were in the area and it's always a fun visit, Fairview was next on our list. The Capreo Traveller’s Book offered us a fantastic free master tasting with an expert staff member, and again we tasted some quite different wines (though at Fairview you can always taste a little bit of everything!) paired with some delicious cheese including an amazing Bobotie Cheddar. A cheese platter at the Goatshed Restaurant finished off our wine tasting day nicely.
© Helen Blatch © Helen Blatch © Glen Carlou
Third stop: Constantia
After a few nights in Stellenbosch it was time to head to Cape Town, and we decided we could fit in one more 'old favourite' tasting, so off we went to Beyerskloof for our favourite pinotage. And of course a pinotage burger at the restaurant there! After a few days in our favourite city, we were still convinced that we had time for just one more wine tasting and lunch before flying back to Switzerland, so having booked a table at the fabulous Bistro 1682, we took a trip out to Constantia for our final wine tasting at Steenberg. Thanks to our Traveller’s Book we had one free wine tasting; we would have also made use of the merchandise discount, but unfortunately they didn't have the t-shirts in the right size! After an amazing lunch we left with a bottle of Sémillon and a Magna Carta and said farewell to the winelands.
© Fairview © Beyerskloof © Steenberg
© Text Helen Blatch (Member of CAPREO South Africa Traveller’s Club)