UIB Travels: The Wine Tours of Stellenbosch, ZA

 

Enjoying a glass of my go to wine (Sauvignon Blanc) on the Delaire Graff Estate
Enjoying a glass of my go to wine (Sauvignon Blanc) on the Delaire Graff Estate

  “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy wine and that’s kinda the same thing.” – A very wise (wo) man

Greetings fellow winos!  If you been following my blog you would know that I recently returned from a dope trip to the motherland (Capetown, South Africa (SA/ZA) to be specific).  As mentioned in one of my previous posts (https://unicorninbrooklyn.com/2015/06/03/uib-travels-capetown-za/), a wine tour in the Stellenbosch region of Capetown is one of the 10 things that I suggested you do when you visit this country.  Today, I am going to let you know why.

Aside from the obvious reason (wine is delicious, refreshing, and did I say delicious?), I implore you to experience a wine tour because: (1) Knowledge – The new found knowledge that you will acquire is pretty cool.  Learning about the wine-making process is actually interesting. (2) Views – The views are amazing; the wine estate grounds are very scenic and pretty.  Plush green lawns, neatly trimmed trees and bushes, calming waters, and the finely manicured vineyards – they’re all a sight to see. (3) Food Pairing – Learning about which wines to pair with which chocolates, foods, and desserts is fun and something you can apply when you return home. (4) Convenience – You have your pick of literally thousands of bottles of wines.  At each wine estate you are able to purchase as many as you’d like for a very discounted rate. (5) Expert Advice – Learning the proper way to enjoy a glass of wine (i.e. swirling it around in the glass and smelling it) and learning the difference between good and cheap wine is something that you can get your “humble brag” on with (“I learned the proper way to taste wine when I was in the Stellenbosch SA…”) and teach others.  (6) Memories – I promise you, the wine tour will give you priceless memories that will last you a lifetime!

Decisions, Decisions

There are a plethora of wine touring companies in Stellenbosch so picking one can be somewhat overwhelming.  To help with your selection I suggest starting your research with TripAdvisor or by doing what I did, going by word of mouth. It was this word of mouth that led me to Wine Flies Wine Tours.

Wine Flies Wine Tours (http://www.wineflies.co.za/) features tour guides that are big on an intimate and authentic experience;  tour guide participants are taken to the local wineries that the tour guides and their family/friends go to  – thus giving you a “non-touristy” experience (which I prefer).  The fee per person (I went with two friends and another participant) was $66.00 USD and it included: pick up and drop off to our hotel, stops at up to 9 wineries (time permitting) and complimentary bottles of water.

Our tour guide, V, picked us up in a luxe Land Rover around 8:45 am on Saturday morning to start the day.  We set out to hit as many wineries as possible (obviously aiming for nine wineries), but only wound up visiting four (I will elaborate on why in a few).  Despite the fact that we only visited four wineries, we had a BEAUTIFUL experience.  V was extremely knowledgeable of each wine estate that we visited as well as the wines that were served to the guests.

Our Bob Marley - The Beatles - Soft Classic Rock loving - accommodating and funny tour guide, V
Our Bob Marley – The Beatles – Soft Classic Rock loving – accommodating and funny tour guide, V

Spier

IMG_1917

The first winery of the day was Spier (http://www.spier.co.za/wine/home/#), an award winning wine farm in the Stellenbosch region of  ZA.  The minute I walked on their grounds towards the wine tasting area I fell in love; the calming and serene grounds (the lake, the plush green lawn, trees and neatly manicured bushes were beautiful).  As soon as I walked in I took in the abundant artwork on display; beaded centerpieces, artwork on the walls, and the chandelier in the center of the wine tasting room – made of wine bottles.

Entrance table at Spier
Entrance table at Spier
Wine for sale
Wine for sale
Closer look at the wine bottle chandelier in the center of the wine tasting room
Closer look at the wine bottle chandelier in the center of the wine tasting room

My friends and I opted for the chocolate and olive & cheese plate respectively as we learned about both red and white wines.

Olive & Cheese Plate - Brie & mild cheddar, olives, biscuits, watermelon paste, and figs
Olive & Cheese Plate – Brie & mild cheddar, olives, biscuits, watermelon paste, and figs
IMG_1925
The ladies listening to the wine connoisseur as she pours a glass of complimentary sparkling wine
Dark malted chocolate, milk chocolate with cardamom & passion fruit, and peppered white chocolate
Dark malted chocolate, milk chocolate with cardamom & passion fruit, and peppered white chocolate

We received complimentary sparkling wine and sampled about six different wines during our time at Spier.  Being the wino that I am I loved just about every wine (especially the whites, as these are my favorite).  I wound up buying a bottle of Creative Block 2 – a White Bordeux blend composed of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

I definitely left there with a buzz, but didn’t drink too much – after all we had eight more wineries to visit (or so I thought). I purchased a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc then headed back to V’s Land Rover to head to the next estate…

Delaire Graff Estate

IMG_1964

The day was starting off smoothly – Spier left a good taste in my mouth (literally and figuratively).  The next stop was the Delaire Graff Estate.

Ummm, damn.  I knew the grounds would be beautiful (as it was a winery), but this estate took my breath away.  The moment I stepped out of the car I was surrounded by acres and acres of pristine grounds, huge sculptures, artwork,  and an abundant amount of beautiful flowers .

IMG_1983
Closer view of one of the sculptures – Can I live?
IMG_1932
Taking in the beauty of the grounds
IMG_1943
Statues on the grounds

Delaire Graffe Estate (http://www.delaire.co.za/) is also located in the Stellenbosch area of ZA and is known for their delicious white wines,  stellar grounds and service.

Upon arrival, my friends and I were escorted to a small car to receive a tour before starting our wine tasting experience.

IMG_1946
Grounds tour guide
IMG_1963
Chardonnay fields
Chardonnay grapes, almost raisins
Chardonnay grapes, almost raisins
The fields of my favorite grapes, Sauvignon
The fields of my favorite grapes, Sauvignon
Sauvingon
Fave pic of the day – Walking through the Sauvignon Blanc fields
IMG_1993
Our connoisseur giving me a closer look of the bottle of the Sauvignon Blanc that he served my friends and I

After the approximately 30-minute long tour it was time for my favorite part of the tour – wine tasting!   My group was escorted to the outside area to get the experience started.   Our connoisseur  (I can’t recall his name offhand) was fine.  I think I spent more time learning about him than I did about the wine that I sipped on.

Speaking of connoisseur,  ours was a polyglot (one that speaks several languages).  My friends and I flirted (hard – that young man (in his late 20’s) doesn’t know that I was ready to stay in ZA and give him babies) and shared jokes as we sampled several white wines.  My favorite was the Chenin Blanc, Old Bush Vine (OBV) – a light and refreshing wine composed of citrus, pineapple, honey and all spice undertones.  Needless to say I bought two bottles of this deliciousness.

Below is a video of me badgering my boo…

After wasting too much time drinking wine, taking about 50-11 pictures, joking around, and eventually getting drunk we were hungry as hell.  We wanted to eat at the estate’s restaurant, but V promised us that we would have a really good lunch at the next estate so we waited.

We spent about two hours at the Delaire Graffe Estate – obviously eating into our wine touring experience.  It was all good, the time spent here was worth it.

Onto lunch and the next wine farm…

Middelvlei

IMG_2014
Entrance way at Middlevlei

Middlevlei (http://www.middelvlei.co.za/) is a small family run wine farm – completely opposite Delaire Graffe.  The grounds of Middlevlei were impeccable, but noticeably more relaxed than the previous two wineries that I’d visited that day – and I preferred that.  The comfortable-come as you are-family friendly feel was inviting and relaxing.   What I enjoyed the most about this estate were the abundant amount of animals on the grounds; large and small dogs roamed freely in harmony, sheep walked around without a care in the world, and the chickens, roosters, and goats seemed chipper and full of energy.  There were even kangaroos!

IMG_2007
Farm animals (goats, chickens & roosters) chillin’

After stopping by to view the small animals above, my group was led to a lovely picnic table setting outside (by V).  Here we were served a DELICIOUS lunch of chicken kebabs, tossed salad, beef sausage, potato salad, and grilled cheese with onion and tomato sandwiches.  We were given cold water and complimentary Chardonnay.

IMG_2020
Tale of two salads – potato & tossed
IMG_2021
Tossed salad & grilled cheese, tomato and red onion sandwiches
IMG_2024
Grilled cheese, chicken kebab, sausage, and potato & tossed salads
IMG_2025
One of my favorite shots of the day – The complimentary light & refreshing Chardonnay was served with lunch
IMG_2022
One of the beautiful dogs of the estate. She walked around our table as we ate lunch and rested by my feet as we sipped wine. The cutest thing, this black beauty was afraid of heights. She followed my friends and I upstairs to the wine production area, but was too afraid to walk back downstairs alone.  One of the workers escorted her down
IMG_2027
The views were so relaxing. This view reminded me of a scene from “The Lion King”

Surprisingly, our Wine Flies Tour Guide, V, gave us a wine tour of the Middlevlei grounds and allowed us to sample two complimentary red glasses of wine.  I didn’t purchase any wine from this winery – not because it wasn’t good, but because I am not the biggest fan of red wines and didn’t care to bring any home with me.

Wine Vat - Wine grapes go in and magic comes out
Wine Vat – Wine grapes go in and magic comes out
Machines used for the wine making process
Machines used for the wine making process
IMG_2042
Oak barrels full of red wine

After a good meal, a wine tour, and wine sampling it was time to head over to our next and final wine farm of the day…

Lovane

IMG_2070
I’m not the biggest fan of red wine, but this Cabernet Sauvignon was nice (sweet and not dry)

Lovane (http://www.lovane.co.za/) was the smallest winery of all the wine farms that we visited.   By the time we arrived here we were pretty intoxicated so pretty much all the wine (which was paired with different types of chocolate) tasted good.  I didn’t bother to purchase any of the wines from Lovane because all of the wines that I sampled were red – and you know how I feel about red wine.

Oak barrels and bottles of wine. This area was adjacent to the wine tasting area in the cellar
IMG_2059
I think I’ll take this one home with me
IMG_2072
Presentation of wines across from the wine tasting area in the cellar

Recap

Das it!  I visited four wineries and didn’t pass out from drunkenness in the streets of Stellenbosch.  Way too much chocolate.  Beautiful scenery.  Delicious food.  Good company.  Bomb ass tour guide.  Memories of a lifetime.

***

XO,

~Pennie Penz

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s