Wine tour in the Winelands

Franschoek, South Africa

It occurred to me on my walk home last night how much safety in South Africa can vary from one place to the next. While in Cape Town, my guesthouse advised me to take a taxi everywhere after dark. Yet here in sleepy Franschoek, it’s no problem.

Akademie served up a delicious breakfast this morning of homemade granola, fresh fruits and honey and scrambled eggs with hearty, whole-wheat toast. Having some food in my stomach was much necessary, especially after getting picked up by Tsiba-Tsiba and arriving at our first winery, Simonsig, around 10 a.m.

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It was a small group, just me and a couple of college kids from the States, as our guide Lukas explained the tasting process and began generously filling our glasses. We would be sampling about 40 wines today, he said, so drinking them all was not advised.

Simonsig was on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, which is this country’s second-oldest settlement, established in 1679. We started with some bubbly (the smaller and slower the bubbles, the better) and then moved onto the pinotage, a red blend that South Africa is well known for. It was dry, a little spicy, and had flavors of plum, oak and vanilla. After getting a “Tour of the Tanks,” we walked through the vineyards and loaded back into the van.

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Our next stop was Kanonkop, probably the least impressive of the day’s wineries, before heading to nearby Glen Carlou for lunch. The ten tasting wines and delicate trout entrée was matched only by the fantastic views and great weather.

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We drove back to Franschoek, stopping at my favorite of the day, Solms Delta. Established in just 2000, these wines were consistently complex and delicious and the setting dramatic. Particularly good was the Solms-Astor Cape Jazz Shiraz, a festive, lightly sweet blend that went down smooth.

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Our last stop was Moreson, the smallest winery in Franschoek. We finished the day in the same way we started, with some bubbly. In this case, it was the Blanc de Blancs, a 4-star wine.

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After some rest, it was time for dinner at Reuben’s, a brasserie on the main street. Unfortunately, although the ambience was authentic and the steak tasty, the service was atrocious. As could be imagined, waiting an hour for an entrée is not fun — especially after a long day on wine tour.

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Exhausted, my gigantic bed back at Akademie welcomed me home.

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Comments

  1. kevin arrowood says:

    if you travel to Joburg, make sure to eat at Carnivore and the Butchery. Also make some of Afrikaaners cook you a brai with boerwerse

  2. blanc du blanc is my fave type of bubbly! I am going to try and find some of that in the USA and we can drink it on the porch in SoV.

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