The fruit of the vine and Cape Town have a long and illustrious relationship. South African wine dates back to the founder of Cape Town, Jan van Riebeeck. After settling in 1652, he set about planting grapes as a remedy for scurvy. A short 7 years later, on 2nd February 1659, the founding fathers rejoiced over the first vat of Cape wine. Three hundred and fifty five years later and South African wine has gained fame and popularity the world over. It all originates right here on our doorstep.
There are hundreds of wine farms within an hour’s drive of 26OnFirst. The closest wine farms (and the oldest) are in the Constantia valley. Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia, Buitenverwachting and Constantia Uitsig, to mention a few, are all names that have become synonymous with exclusive wine. All four are open daily for wine tasting and total enjoyment of a relaxed luncheon or picnic under the centuries old oak trees.
But it is the 1971 opening of the Stellenbosch Wine Route that really put Cape wines on the map. It is a popular holiday past time for both young and old, locals and tourists alike to designate a driver and go from farm to farm tasting the local wine. So what can you expect? To start with, the Winelands are about 45 minutes drive from Cape Town, taking you through some of the world’s most picturesque farmlands…
Traditionally, the wine farms of the Stellenbosch region are privately owned and magnificently maintained. The one we visited was Waterford Wine Estate, in the Helderberg region. You enter through a broad entrance after which you immediately find yourself on a long sweeping driveway through an orchard of citrus fruit. had superb view of the entrance to the Tasting Centre.
After parking, we were warmly welcomed and immediately were struck by the comfort of the broad veranda.
The view back through the arch was particularly striking.
We settled down on comfortable chairs, kicked off our shoes and enjoyed the view of the beautiful courtyard fountain.
Our waitron was attentive and knowledgeable. One of the unique options at Waterford is to have a wine and chocolate tasting. You taste three wines, which are perfectly paired with matching chocolate.
The chocolate unexpectedly enhanced the flavour of the wine. It was unique and satisfying. Another option was to taste 8 of Waterford’s wines, varying from their home brand to their premier, exclusive bottle, which spend 9 months in the barrel. They also offer a lychee dessert wine which was a perfect way to end the tasting.
The wines are usually cultivated at the wine farms themselves, so tasting at a number of venues allows the opportunity to experience the wide variety that the Cape has to offer. Tours of the vineyards and cellars can also be arranged. Many of the establishments have extended their entertainment to beyond wine. Farms such as Spier offer fine dining as well as exotic picnic baskets to be enjoyed on the lush grass banks of their lake.
Many of the wine farms cater for both adults and children, with playgrounds and fruit juice for young ones to enjoy. All in all, it becomes a memorable day out under African sun.