With all the reasons to visit Stellenbosch, the town’s recent nomination by revered multi-channel wine marketer in New York, Wine Enthusiast Magazine, as global Wine Region of the Year, comes as no surprise. As South Africa’s first wine route formed in 1972, Stellenbosch Wine Routes is a vinous playground for international tourists and South African holiday goers alike.
As the festive season draws closer, many a visitor to the Cape Winelands are planning to visit Stellenbosch Wine Routes: wine tastings, out-of-this world settings, culinary explosions, and that South African hospitality tourists have come to love.
In the run-up to the announcement of this year’s Wine Star Awards winners in Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s 31 December 2019 Best of Year issue, here are ten reasons to celebrate the iconic Stellenbosch wine region:
#1: Let them eat cake
Pair your favourite Delheim wine with fynbos-inspired cupcakes. Delheim, situated in the Greater Simonsberg area, is not only known and loved for eco-friendly winemaking, but also a range of bespoke, next-level cupcakes. Part of the pairing discovery, wine tasters can look forward to a buchu cupcake, fynbos honey cupcake, rooibos cupcake and honeybush cupcake. Make sure to book in advance to avoid disappointment.
#2: For the sweet tooth
Ever imagined pairing wine with sorbet and gelato. Yup, at Koelenhof Winery and Bottling, part of the Cape Winelands’ Bottelary Hill subroute, you can enjoy the best of both worlds. According to Koelenhof, their wine tasting experiences are sure to impress both newcomer wine lovers and experienced connoisseurs. And with grape juice tastings for kids, this winery offers something for the whole family.
#3: Life is like a box of chocolates
Located in the heart of the picturesque Blaauwklippen Valley, Waterford Estate treats visitors to an unforgettable wine and chocolate experience. What happens when two experts from two very different industries, a chocolatier and cellar master, join hands? Chocolaty brilliance! The carefully-paired tasting includes a Shiraz with masala chai dark chocolate, Cabernet Sauvignon with rock salt dark chocolate, and a Noble Late Harvest accompanied by rose geranium milk chocolate.
#4: Dripping in diamonds
Cue ultimate luxury from beginning to end. Aside from a team of chefs and world-class sommeliers at Delaire Graff Estate’s contemporary bistro-chic restaurant or Asian-inspired dining at Indochine, guests can also indulge in private dining at The Vinoteque or The Wine Lounge. Boasting some of the most impressive views of Stellenbosch Valley, sunsets drip in gold while five-star hospitality is the order of the day. And for those who want to spend some real moolah, do visit Graff Diamonds. There’s a reason why Graff’s stones are coined “the most fabulous jewels in the world”.
#5: Always time for a braai
Middelvlei Wine Estate’s Momberg family hosts an authentic and proudly South African lunch-time braai (barbecue) seven days a week – aptly called Boerebraai. What is a braai feast without chicken sosaties (kebabs), boerewors (sausage), chops, potbrood (pot bread), braaibroodjies (grilled tomato, cheese and onion sandwiches) and pampoenkoekies (pumpkin fritters). There’s simply no better way to celebrate warm South African summer days than with a braai, surrounded by friends and family, and enjoying darn good wine from Middelvlei.
#6: Picture perfect picnics
One of South Africa’s oldest and most-loved wine farms and great reason to visit Stellenbosch, Spier, encapsulates everything and more for a once-in-a-lifetime summer picnic. Soak up spectacular views next to a dam under old oak trees with a picnic basket brimming with fresh and local produce – from Angus roast beef and Havarti cheddar, to prosciutto and pastéis de nata. For families with youngsters, order a kids’ picnic basket with a ham and cheese sandwich, root stock crisps, nut butter snack pack with dried fruit, and organic orange juice. With a variety of activities such as Segway tours, a craft market and eagle encounters, Spier truly offers something unique for young and old.
#7: Garden with a difference
True to L’Avenir Wine Estate’s name, which means “the future” in French, the estate has taken a hands-on approach to exterior layout and design, giving birth to an inclusive space called the Hands-on Garden. Motivated to empower through design, L’Avenir turned to its farming community to conceptualise and design this green oasis. The garden, complete with working Chenin Blanc and Pinotage vines, fountains and striking sculptures by Zimbabwean roadside sculptor and artist Tafirenyika Manyenga, is a space where undue barriers, between man, nature and society, are removed and inclusiveness is celebrated.
#8: Hole in one
Guests seeking a relaxed getaway from life’s hustle and bustle, look no further than the Cape Dutch vernacular-style De Zalze Lodge overlooking the Stellenbosch mountains. Here, guests have plenty leisurely options to choose from: wine tasting, cycling through the estate’s vineyards, spending your days next to the pool, and of course, teeing off at the pristine De Zalze Golf Club. With a good mix of parkland holes and the oak tree lined Blaauwklippen River, the impressive course is ideal for golfers of all levels. Make sure to end a competitive day on the greens with a gourmet lunch (Tuesdays to Sundays) at Kleine Zalze’s sought-after Terroir restaurant.
#9: Get your ducks in a row
Vergenoegd Löw Wine Estate might me known for its Cape Dutch architecture and celebrated red wines, but its ducks, yes, its ducks, take centre stage. The estate’s famous duck parade sees a working flock of more than 1200 Indian runner ducks strutting their stuff on their way to a busy day in the vineyards. Since 1984, the estate has been making use of its waddling workforce to create a unique and integrated pest management program. According to Vergenoegd, the feathery creatures consumes “a startling amount of snails and bugs on their daily patrols”. The duck parade takes place daily at 10:30, 12:30 and 15:30. Visitors’ visit includes a tour of the duck pens and breeding room.
#10: Pink is the colour of…
Newby on the wine block, Pink Valley Wines, is South Africa’s very first estate to make and express a single specialist Rosé wine. Capitalising on the wine’s singularity, Pink Valley expresses the “art of fine wine” another reason to visit Stellenbosch with a range of labels showcasing gorgeous works by South African abstract painter Walter Battiss. A beautiful wine that does not only look good… The Pink Valley Rosé is described as an expressive, modern Rosé reflecting French winery Oddo Vins & Domaine’s emphasis on excellence. Pink is undoubtedly the colour of love.
Visit Stellenbosch Wine Routes’ website for more information about the region’s various attractions, accommodation options, tasting rooms and restaurants.
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