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