Cape Winelands

Before heading out to wine country, we walked to a beautiful market with a huge variety of foods and crafts.

“There was a time long before apartheid
when South African wines were savored
by Napoleon and Louis XVI. The vintages
are reclaiming their global renown now
that democracy … has arrived. ”
New York Times

Today we’re escaping the city in search of some of South Africa’s fabulous wines along the Paarl Wine Route,  We travel over the 366 metre (1,200 foot) Helshoogte Pass to elegant Stellenbosch. Founded in 1679, this is the second oldest town in the country and is home to South Africa’s first Afrikaans-language university.

“The district of Stellenbosch is one of the oldest and most
important wine producing regions in South Africa. It is
located just east of Cape Town within the Western Cape
and along with Paarl and Franschhoek helps to form the
Cape Winelands. Simon van der Stel is credited with
founding the town of Stellenbosch back in 1679 and the
first vines were planted in 1690 according to our
Stellenbosch Wine Guide. Stellenbosch is composed of
mostly hilly terrain and a Mediterranean climate with
warm and dry growing seasons. The variety of soils in
the region in combination with its location at the foot
of the Cape Fold mountain range gives Stellenbosch
a favorable terroir for viticulture. Our Stellenbosch
Wine Ratings would indicate that Cabernet Sauvignon
helps to produce the best wines in this region.
However Merlot, Pinotage, Shiraz, Chenin Blanc,
Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are also all grown
throughout Stellenbosch. For more information on this
region check out our Stellenbosch Wine Guide.”
The Wine Enthusiast

 

There are over 60 wine estates in the Stellenbosch area and we will stop at one for a wine tasting in this heavenly setting.   For more on the “rich, juicy syrah, perfumed Chenin Blanc and Viognier, tobacco-laced Cabernet and Merlot blends and easy drinking whites and roses,” check out The Jaw-Dropping Wines of South Africa’s Stellenbosch, at Winefolly, here

First we stopped in the scenic town of Stellenbosch.

We arrived at our lush destination, the winery, L’avinir, where our guide, Sarah, dramatically lobbed the cork and top of the bottle off with a sword.  We tasted a selection of champagnes, known as Méthode Cap Classique (more commonly the rather uninspiring short form “MCC”, as in, “MCC anyone?” Or, “a glass of MCC, s’il vous plait?”) alluding to the fact that they use the same method as classic french champagne producers.  We also sampled some delightful Pinotages.

We stopped for a delicious lunch at a spot that specialized in cheeses and, not surprisingly, kept some jolly billy goats gruff.  After salads, cheeses and a charcuterie board, we went next door for more sampling, this time, everything from beer to chocolate.

Returning to Cape Town, it was our last night and I had to return to the vibrant waterfront to wander, enjoy the saturated evening light, music and gelato.  One of the prettiest scenes among all of the gorgeous scenery we have seen in Cape Town, is right here.

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I hope South Africa is able to turn itself around economically and narrow the gap between rich and poor, because Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen and I would love to return.

Now that I have Zigged through Amsterdam and Zagged through Capetown, it’s time to Zog, meaning this trip is about to take a very different turn!  As we fly over more beautiful South African scenery, I am eager to get to the heart of this trip, spectacular Namibia.  We’re flying to Windhoek, the capital of Namibia.

Best,

Jan

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