| Everyday Luxury Travel Africa South Africa

Exploring the Cape Winelands

I love wine, I think you can tell…but sadly I don’t know as much about it as I’d like to. Clearly the best way to learn about wine is to drink more…. and also to visit vineyards to learn more about the wine directly from the source. So far Mr S and I have done wine tours in the Napa Valley in California and the Yarra Valley in Melbourne and we were really looking forward to finding out more about the beautiful Winelands just east of Cape Town.

First let’s talk about the name of the region…’The Winelands.’ I honestly can’t think of anything better than a land of wine! And not only is it a land of wine, it’s totally beautiful too and the popular towns of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl are nestled within vast mountains and verdant valleys. The area has a mild Mediterranean climate and is home to over 300 vineyards and includes many top notch restaurants serving food that matches the high quality of the wine.

Our hotel had organised for a local expert to give us a tour around some of the beautiful vineyards, and as he was driving we could both drink as much wine as we liked!

Our first stop was Haute Cabriere¬†within the Fransschoek mountains; a vineyard with an incredible view. It was 11am. That’s the great thing about doing a wine tour, drinking in the morning isn’t frowned upon, in fact drinking all day is perfectly acceptable ūüėČ

The winery, which is also a restaurant, is set directly into side of Fransschoek mountain and it has the feeling of being inside a cave. We kept cool by sitting inside but we could still gaze on the beautiful view from a large picture window inside the restaurant.

Haute Cabriere has a long history but it came to be how it is today when Cellar Master, Achim von Arnim purchased a portion of land with the intention of producing wines in a similar style of the Champagne region.

As he had dreamed of, Arnim followed the tradition of French champagne houses to produce a champagne-equivalent, known in South Africa as Methode Cap Classique.
The Methode Cap Classique (MCC) uses traditional Champagne grape varieties and the double fermentation process used in Champagne making. The wine was delicious and I liked it just as much as it’s French counterpart.

Of course, we had to try the rose too! The Cap Classique is fondly named after the original founder of the land, Pierre Jourdan, a French Huguenot who first planted vines in 1694.

Later Achim discovered the land now know as Haute Cabriere where the terroir was similar to that which he’d seen in Burgundy and he also grew Burgundian-styled Pinot Noir and a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. We also tried the still wine, enjoying both of the wines that are produced from the two different soils that Haute Cabriere rests on.

The stunning Moreson family winery was the next destination on our tour.

 

Moreson is a gorgeous family farm located on Happy Valley road in Franschhoek and owned by the Friedman family.

You can tell it’s family run as the environment is just so relaxed and welcoming.

We tried a great variety of wines including the The Widow Maker made from Pinotage, South Africa’s signature red grape. The grape originated in South Africa as the result of a crossing between Cinsaut and Pinot Noir it is now grown in other countries but remains very much a product of South Africa. It’s actually a bit of a ‘marmite’ wine; you love it or hate it but we really liked the deep plummy flavours of the red.

And the sparkling…

 

And the white…

In fact we were having a great time chatting with the ‘wine guy’ as he poured rather large measures of wine…it was all so good that Mr S and I bought two cases, and no it wasn’t just reckless ¬†drunken spending! We didn’t get to try any food but there’s also an onsite restaurant called Bread and Wine, which are quite literally my two favourite things.

After making our purchases it was time to soak up all that lovely wine with some lunch.

The hotel had booked us into La Petite Ferme, an absolutely stunning restaurant and winery perched high on the Franschhoek mountain and overlooking the valley.

 

The view from our table was really quite incredible and you can see the gorgeous garden and the rolling hills beyond.

In the family spirit that pervades the Cape Winelands, La Petite Ferme has passed through three generations to the current owners Mark and Josephine Dendy Young.

The chef uses seasonal and local ingredients to create an fantastic menu. We started with ostrich carpaccio with goats cheese creme, sundried tomato, rocket and baby marrow.

 

And creamy snoek spring roll with balsamic and tomato salad. We had that mellow feeling that you get from enjoying really good wine earlier in the day and so accompanied our meal with (just the one) glass of La Petite Ferme’s own Sauvignon Blanc.

Whole oak smoked rainbow trout with baby potatoes, tomato salsa, roasted garlic, toasted almonds and toasted beetroot. Another rather striking thing about this restaurant is the price, Conde Naste Traveller voted it one of their top ten restaurants for value for money. Indeed that whole trout with accompaniments was (at time of writing) the equivalent of £8.

 

Our other main course was a beautifully cooked piece of tuna with watercress sauce.

It really was a wonderful day filled with beautiful scenery, good food and incredible wine.

 

Visiting these beautiful vineyards is really helping me to understand more about wine including the variations of terroir, the fermentation process and what makes sparkling wine different to still wine. What especially interested me was what made South African wines unique and why this beautiful region produced wines that tasted so wonderful. I’m definitely still learning about wine…and I think I need to drink some more to continue my education…

Have you visited a Vineyard before? Let me know about your experiences in the comments below. 

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