With only 275 kilometers to our next wine region of Stellenbosch the drive seems to take an eternity, though with Matt’s Aussie hip hop DJ skills continuing the time finally passes as we find ourselves in the gorgeous town center. With its famed Cape Dutch architecture, developing in the 17th Century, ornate gables, thatched roofs typify the style.
Like nothing else we’d seen in Africa, Stellenbosch has a young vibe, due to the large university campus. Add to this its beautiful people and artsy overtone and you’ll find a gorgeous city unique in its own way. Moving through the tree lined streets with alfresco dining we pull into the Stumble Inn for our second to last destination on the overland trip.
With a small bar, pool table, ‘The Hero’s Corner’ (you’ll have to go to find out for yourself) and a swimming pool at other location down the road it’s obviously a party hostel, though at the beginning of November there’s a lack of backpackers.
Going out for a couple of craft brews and some bitterballen (the best snack in the world) around the corner at the Slug and Lettuce we sit out on the pavement getting in a good people watching session and a good one at that as this is ‘beautiful people’ central. The rest of the afternoon our driver Moogs, who’s challenged Matt to pool, proceeds to get schooled on the less than level table.
One of the musts when you’re in Stellenbosch is a winery tour. Our group of six is joined by a few others from another overland ground and we’re astonished that their entire group hasn’t joined!
What is up with overland trips these days, we thought they were meant to be fun!
Well as you probably figured we know how to bring the A game. Our tour today is with Easy Rider and our driver glides in on his longboard skateboard. With long hair and a beard to match he kicks some air and we kick start the tour. Simonsig, meaning “to see or have a view of the Simonsberg mountains” is the first stop and with 210 hectares of vines it’s one of the largest in the region. In 1971 then owner Frans Malan began the now world famous Stellenbosch Wine route.
After a short tour and brief history of the estate we get down to the tasting beginning with the Kaapse Vonkel (Cape Sparkle), the first sparkling wine made in SA to the traditional French method. This is followed by a lovely Chenin Blanc, a Gewurztraminer that smelled exactly like Turkish Delight and finishing on a smooth Shiraz/Mourverde/Viognier blend. In hindsight we all agreed Simonsig had the best wines.
Our second destination is Fairview Wine and Cheese in Paarl. It’s a massive operation and we’re told that last year alone the turnover on cheese alone was in excess of USD$6 million! It’s no wonder they have all you can eat cheese tastings. Though before Matt the greedy bastard can gorge on 15 different kinds of fromage goodness we need to sit through at least one tasting. We’re each given a sheet with 20 wines in which we can choose six to taste. Most of us spent the majority of our time, you guessed it, eating unlimited cheese.
Having over stuffed ourselves on cheese, olive oil and bread the lunch stop in Franschhoek was hardly necessary. Matt opted for the national dish of bobotie, minced meat simmered with herbs, spices and dried fruit topped with an egg and left to bake. While it wasn’t bad he wouldn’t rave about it. Wrapping up lunch there’s still two wineries left. Of all four wineries visited Dieu Donne wins the prize for best views though their Unwooded Chardonnay was the best of the lot on offer and the Methode Cap Classic 2015 sparkling fell flat.
Zorgevliet rounded out the fourth and final destinations for the day and by now some of the gang were beginning to show signs of flailing. When one girl pours out her tasting of a $250 bottle of red our guide almost has a breakdown. With a grand palm lined entrance leading to the cellar door Zorgevliet is quaintly nestled in the Banghoek Valley region and its impressive Cape Dutch styled exterior is typical of the 17th century and unique to this area of the world. Sitting on picnic benches on the lawn the wine list leans heavily to the whites which is what we start with. For us the favourite here is the Silvermyn Argentum Bordeaux Blend, though with it being a gorgeous day we grab a couple of bottles of Chenin Blanc to drink back at the Stumble Inn hostel over a game of pool or two.
Heading into town for a bite to eat we stumble across Julian’s Cafe & Bar with it’s friendly service, huge wraps and Cheezas on the menu.
‘Wow, it’s delicious!’ – Everyone
They also helped us discover the hottest chilli sauce we’re ever had, South African brand Bushman’s Revenge chilli sauce.
Having had plenty of experience of this wine tasting business, we’d planned ahead and stocked up on some local produce for the following mornings breakfast. This time ostrich steaks were on the menu, a highly recommended option for you red meat eaters and a healthier alternative to bacon and eggs.
The time had arrived for us to board the truck for the final few kilometers and our end point of Cape Town.
It wasn’t all about wine in South Africa, check out our Flick page for the proof!