Sampling South African Wine in Stellenbosch

Vine against a perfect blue sky in Stellenbosch, South Africa

Ready to hit a new wine region? How about Stellenbosch in South Africa, a short drive east of Cape Town?

The Wineries

So, we finally hit the road east from our hotel to get to Stellenbosch.  We made a few stops in the wine region hitting some wineries pretty much randomly.

Vine against a perfect blue sky in Stellenbosch, South Africa

The vine of happiness!

We did apply enough intelligence to the itinerary to make sure the first one we hit was one that had a place to eat since we were getting there around lunch time.  The winery we chose (Vergelegen) had very large fields and gardens and a café where you could eat lunch in the shade of trees overlooking a rose garden.  We then proceeded to the wine tasting area where for a fee (on top of the R10 we paid to enter the property…), we could sample 6 wines.  Not getting into details, the wines generally were refreshing and quite drinkable.  It was a blue-sky day and we faced a mountain range so the setting was perfect to sit back and enjoy life.

View of the gardens and backdrop of the Vergelegen winery in Stellenbosch, South Africa near Cape Town

View from the Vergelegen winery garden

After the initial winery, since wineries began closing after 4 PM, we chose a road where there were a few wineries back to back to minimize driving time (did I say we both studied engineering??).  The first winery was in an old building and the wine was quite nice.  In this winery, the person who served us stood there by us and happily answered our questions but the conversation was nothing special.  In a later winery (Peter Falke, not to be confused with the actor; the owner, if I remember correctly, was a German who owned a socks company in Germany) that seemed a little bigger (but not as big as the first one we went to), the only employee in that afternoon was the winemaker himself who was quite willing to sit outside with us and sample the wine on the backyard as we overlooked the fields and the nearby mountains.  You can tell this winery is new but the setting is perfect to be rented out for events as it has the right lay out in the patio, has great outdoor furniture, etc.  He was quite willing to discuss winemaking and generally answer our questions so I think this winery was my favorite .  The wine was also quite nice.

In Stellenbosch Town

As the wineries closed, we headed into town to check in and have dinner.  Our hotel was a local small hotel (the Eendracht) right in town.  The architecture of the town as in much of the Cape region, is Cape Dutch.  I, not being a student of architecture, have to admit I was clueless about it.  I really found it quite charming.  I will make a note to someday google it and learn something about it…

Typical construction in Cape Dutch architecture style in the Stellenbosch wine region of South Africa

Example of the Cape Dutch architecture

The town was very nice and we quickly ran into the shops and restaurant area of the town.  We also hit a wine store where we were given samples of wine without any pressure to buy.  The store had a long wooden table that indicated frequent wine tastings took place.  If I lived there, I would likely frequent it :).  That night we decided we were done with seafood so we smelled our way around the various restaurants until we found one that seemed right for a good meal.  I don’t have the name handy but I think we did well.  The place was full of locals and the meal was great.  I ate springbok (a type of deer) in a brown sauce – it was delicious!So with that ended my weekend escape to the Cape region and I proceeded to the less magnificent Johannesburg area (but with interesting history) (read about it here).  I also learned quickly in my trip to South Africa how cheap things are given the exchange rate!

Big thumbs up for the Cape region and here is to hoping to go back!

Does anyone have any recommendations for other wineries in Stellenbosch?

(Photos taken with Canon EOS Rebel)

Visiting the Phenomenal City of Cape Town, South Africa

V&A Waterfront in Cape Town with Table Mountain on the background

I headed to South Africa to attend some work conferences in Johannesburg.  But I decided, being my first time in South Africa, that I just had to see Cape Town and the surroundings, including the Cape of Good Hope and Stellenbosch.  A college roommate was also going to be there for business so we decided to meet up and see the Cape region together.

Our Accommodations

We stayed at a nice hotel, The Courtyard, near the Liesbeck River and the Observatory.  It had an awesome setting, kind of looking to the back of Table Mountain.  The hotel had the nicest happy hour I have seen in any hotel – local beers and wines and a good amount of appetizers.  In the morning you had a nice buffet breakfast and you could take it outside looking at the grounds and the mountain.

Enjoying breakfast at The Courtyard outside of Cape Town, South Africa

Enjoying breakfast outdoors at The Courtyard

In the City

We visited the V&A Waterfront which was nice but we could have been in any major city by the water.  The seafood we had was very fresh.  But other than that, not sure I would be making this a priority stop in any future trip there…

V&A Waterfront in Cape Town with Table Mountain on the background

V&A Waterfront with Table Mountain on the background

Slightly Out of the City

Robben Island was closed when I was in CT for some animal control project that was to last 2 weeks.  I imagine it is an interesting place but I can’t comment.  The beach towns south of the city center were teeming with life and seemed a nice play to stay an hang out for meals, etc.  We mainly drove past them as we only had 2 days to cover a lot of places we wanted to see.  But, in a future visit, I can see myself relaxing in these towns…

Driving through the beach towns south of Cape Town, South Africa

Driving through the beach towns south of Cape Town

The Masterpiece of Cape Town – A Natural Wonder!

The traveler freezing at the top of Table Mountain

The traveler freezing at the top of Table Mountain

 

Rio de Janeiro has the Pao de Azucar.  Cape Town has Table Mountain.  Table Mountain, at first thought, seemed maybe too touristy to visit but it was well worth the time and ride up.  The views up there were simply fantastic.  You could see the city, the port, Robben Island, the beach towns, etc.  But the height from which you see them really blows you away.  The clouds would come in and out of the mountaintop adding to an already-amazing setting.

View from Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa

View towards the beach towns from Table Mountain

View from Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa with Robben Island

View towards the city in the foreground and Robben Island in the background

While Cape Town as a city was not something spectacular (I’m comparing it to the likes of Paris, Istanbul, Rome), the setting of the city most definitely is quite spectacular and the neighboring areas (more on those later) are as well.

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