If you can't tell by now from reading posts here and here, Cape Town is my favorite city in the world. I love it's vibrancy, beauty, culture and the overall way I feel when I'm there. Each time I go, I always discover something new, and this time it was famed wine region, Stellenbosch.
Two of my friends have spent quite some time in Stellenbosch, so they had already lined up one of their favorite wine tour guides. I highly recommend hiring a guide instead of trying to curate your own tour. Your tour guide should pick you up from wherever you're staying in Cape Town and be your personal chaperone (and designated driver) as you head to wineries throughout the day. And if they're worth their salt, they should take you to wineries with various offerings. Our guide picked us up around 9 am and off we went on the 45 minute drive to Cape Town wine country.
We started at Fairview, which isn't in Stellenbosch but in nearby Paarl (remember when I went to the Spice Route? Same area.). Here, we had The Master Tasting, which costs R80 per person (approximately $6) and includes six wines paired with six Fairview cheeses in a private room. For this reason, I was glad we began the day at Fairview. Wine and cheese for breakfast is always a great idea. Each pairing was more delicious than the last and they offered quite the variety of reds and whites. Not only did their wines and cheeses leave a lasting impression, but this winery is memorable because of the goats they house on the property. While they use them to make some of their cheeses, they are also available for petting!
Favorite Wine: Pinotage
Favorite Cheese: Cream Cheese Sundried Tomato & Herbs
Pro Tip: Make sure you do the Master Tasting. While it's not required, the general tasting room can get kind of hectic, so it's nice to be able to sit and enjoy your tasting without other people hovering around you. And pet the goats after your wine tasting on your way out.
Simonsig was the next stop on our wine tour. Located in Stellenbosch, this vineyard is known for their Methode Cap Classique (MCC), otherwise known as sparkling wine. (If we were in Champagne, France, it would be considered champagne.) I sabered a bottle for the first time and made all of my dreams come true! But you know we keep it real here at Will Drink For Travel. This vineyard didn't impress me much, wines or otherwise. However, it was nice to add a sparkling wine to the mix, so if that's your thing, this is the place to go in Stellenbosch.
*Editor's Note - Since the publishing of this post, I've heard that Simonsig has a great Pinotage. Perhaps I will revisit to give it a try!
After tasting five or more wines, lunch is the only logical next step, so we headed to Tokara. While we didn't taste the wine here, we enjoyed a delicious lunch with a gorgeous view. Seriously, Tokara was the highlight of our day. The food was prepared deliciously and the views from the restaurant were unmatched. We each ordered a different dish to sample from each other and I can honestly say, each dish was equally delicious. I ordered the beef miso, which was so tender and soft I almost shed a tear. Really. But most importantly, can you get into this view? There were 360 degrees of this all around the restaurant. Amazing.
The last stop on our tour was Waterford and it did not disappoint. This is a fairly new winery but it's a gorgeous property. We began by taking a tour of their wine cellar and learning how they make and store their wines. (In my opinion, if you've seen one wine cellar, you've seen them all, so this isn't a must unless you've never toured one before.) Following the tour, we enjoyed a tasting of three wines paired with their signature chocolates. This was absolutely divine. I enjoyed this pairing because you could really taste how the chocolates enhanced the wine and vice versa.
Favorite Wine: Kevin Arnold Shiraz
Favorite Chocolate: Rock Salt
I thoroughly enjoyed this wine tour and would do it all again in a heartbeat. If you need a wine guide in Stellenbosch, contact John Hartley of Go Cape Tourism Services. He was extremely knowledgeable not only about wines, but about Cape Town and the history of South Africa. Tell him I sent you! Check out more photos from our epic wine adventure below.
Photo Credit: Adriene Boone