There is more than enough to see, do and explore in Cape Town to keep a visitor – or indeed a local – occupied for weeks. Venture a little outside the city though and you open up a whole new world of options.
One of those is the chance to see sharks, which I did on the previous day. After that adrenaline rush (it took me a while to return to normality after that close encounter) I opted to travel to nearby Stellenbosch, where life is a little more sedate. Mainly because people are sloshed on wine…
That’s harsh. Tourists are sloshed on wine. This university town is the heartland of the South African wine industry. Over 160 vineyards are packed into this small area of southwestern Africa, owing to the favourable climate and soil. The attraction to visitors is that many of these wine producers open their doors during the day for tasting sessions.
Obviously being truly fair and visiting all 160+ wineries is not possible on one trip. What most people do is hop on a tour which takes you to a few of the vineyards, allowing you plenty of tantalising tasting whilst ensuring you get home safely.
I did this tour on the 17th. Those who know me may be aware that my birthday was the day before. I played the ‘It’s my birthday’ card and was given a free – and rather large – glass of red wine by a wine bar in the town centre. I was surprised at how trusting they were: no proof needed. The tip I left for the waiter who sorted it out probably equalled the glass of red (wine is cheap here) but the season of giving was very much alive in Stellenbosch, which was much appreciated.
The town itself is very pleasant and quite quiet, though I’m guessing that changes during academic term time.
Back to the main theme, though. We visited four vineyards during course of a sedate Saturday late morning and afternoon, tasting a variety of reds, whites and specials whilst enjoying stunning views.
Aside from getting positively squiffy, I did learn a thing or two about wine tasting. What wine to pair with what food, what reds are ‘heavier’ than others, tasting by breathing in with the wine in your mouth to oxidise it, and so on.
I would laugh if anyone called me a connoisseur, however. I’m sure most of you would as well. The vast majority of the wines I tried – and there were over 20 in total – were all splendid. I wouldn’t be able to pick favourites or justify why I feel one is better than another. I’d happily have any of them if they ended up at my table in a restaurant.
A wine tour in the Winelands region is highly recommended. It’s very good value (assuming you don’t give in to temptation and start buying bottles), great fun and educational enough to make you feel that little bit smarter. Until you stumble off the bus, at least.
Love you all