Tag Archives: Pinotage

All The Reasons Why South Africa Is The Perfect Place To Wine

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Western Cape, South Africa is the Shangri-La of all things wine. The Garden of Eden of wine.  The absolute nirvana of wine ecstasy.

Not to discredit world-renowned wine capitals such as France, Italy, Spain or any others, but everyone already knows how distinguished and prized they are, unlike the hidden gem and severely underrated wine region of Western Cape, specifically in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.  South Africa is the underdog in the world of all things wine and now, more and more people are discovering just how impressive it truly is. If you’re a complete wine enthusiast or love wine even just a little bit, treat yourself and get down to Western Cape for a truly pleasurable experience.

Here’s why:

imagesIt’s Scenic Everywhere You Look

South Africa is one of my favorite countries because of how stunning it is. Oceans, mountains, rivers, valleys, lakes, forests, deserts, vineyards–it’s all here in one relatively small pocket of the world. Each winery I visited in Western Cape (I lost count) was complemented by mother nature during her finest.

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Even my Airbnb in Franschhoek was surrounded by acres of beautiful vineyards and mountainous backdrops.

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What did I do to deserve all of this?

imagesMore Accessible Than Ever

Western Cape presents to you more options than ever to get your wine game going strong. Private shuttles, Ubers, cabs, trains, trams, wine buses, bicycles, and even Segways are at your service when it comes to getting around. My favorite option was the trams and wine trains in Franschhoek which normally requires a reservation.

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In many cases, you don’t have to book a tour in advance. On two occasions, we walked right up to a tourist information center in Stellenbosch and enquired about a wine tour to go on there and now. Soon enough, a knowledgeable driver arrived to chauffeur us around. On another occasion, we simply had different Uber’s take us around to the random wineries we chose on our maps. On another occasion, we took a series of Hop-on, Hop-off buses in Franschhoek to a few wineries. Getting around safely and responsibly was never an issue.

imagesThe Unbeatable Pairings

Sure, wines are known to be carefully paired with select cheeses and chocolates, but where else in the world can you have your wine paired with biltong?

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Biltong is basically South Africa’s unique version of beef jerky. Though the biltong here can be made up of some of the most interesting game meats–from springbok to kudu and even ostrich. They all pair quite well with your reds.

Besides the biltong, you have your go-to pairings of favored cheeses, chocolates, sweets, and other nicknacks all available to your liking.

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imagesYou Will Meet Some Fantastic People

Wine tours attract thirsty people from all around the world who enjoy divulging in the finer things in life. In this case, wine. And in my experience, wine people are happy people. You’re bound to meet others who share in your wine commonality. I met a group of frat-like Dutch dudes who joined in on a custom tour and on another occasion, I accompanied a group of beautiful ladies on a special birthday wine tour that they thoroughly enjoyed.

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imagesThere’s No Better Place To Discover Pinotage

Did you know South Africa has their own varietal of red wine they invented? It’s called Pinotage and there is no better place in the world to try it. It’s a red blend: Pinot noir and Hermitage, hence PINO TAGE. Western Cape offers that and every other varietal you can imagine. As a special bonus, South Africa also offers some of the finest selection of Brandy in the world!

 

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imagesIt’s Conveniently Affordable

I’ve been to South Africa a handful of times over the past five years and have been able to go on SO many wine excursions because of how affordable they are. At one of my favorite vendors, Muratie, I even shipped a few bottles back home to Michigan right there on the spot. As of this post, the US dollar is doing well in South Africa, which means more to spend on your favorite Cabernet or Sauvignon blanc.

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I found a tour that shuttled you roundtrip from Cape Town and included six different wineries with five tastings at each winery and lunch included for R800 which translates to about $65 USD. Quality pricing!

imagesThere’s More Than Just Wine

Another thing that’s great about the wine region here is that there is an abundance of other things to do during your wine day. There are tons of exceptional restaurants and bars, shops and cafe’s, malls and theaters. There was even an instance where a friend and I went to a champagne tasting at the House of J.C. LeROUX and then immediately after went to go play with monkeys in a conservation outreach nearby!

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imagesTips To Make The Best of Your Wine Excursion

  • The wineries in Western Cape are open year round but the best time to visit is during the late spring and summer when the weather is ideal. Remember that the summer in South Africa is in the December to February months.
  • Many wineries, especially in Stellenbosch, close earlier on Saturdays for some reason. Some as early as noon! For that reason, Fridays are the most popular days for wine tours.
  • However, there are a couple exceptional outdoor food markets in Stellenbosch that are only open on Saturdays. Root 44 and the Slow Market in Stellenbosch are the two most popular. There they serve lots of fresh and delicious food in addition to great wines. Beginning there on a Saturday morning is never a bad idea!
  • The birthday girl in one of my wine groups got lots of free samples and larger pours when she told our wine hosts it was her birthday. Hint hint 🙂
  • Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are home to an insane amount of different wineries and I have yet been to a bad one. You should have no trouble finding any as they are all relatively in close proximity to each other.
  • Pace yourself. You’ll be surprised just how fast the wine creeps up on you.
  • There are many other wineries outside of the neighboring towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, but these two places have the most wineries by far.
  • There are loads of accommodation in Cape Town that cater to wine tours, along with hostels, hotels, and Airbnb’s in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Many companies offer direct pickups and returns.

Happy WINEing 🙂

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Pinotage

Fils de pute d’osti de criss de ta gueule OSTI DE CRISS. If you speak french and know what that means, please let me know. My french-canadian housemate Camille wrote that for my blog. Knowing her, it’s probably inappropriate haha! Oh and also, Tabarnack!! Pomme.

It’s still exam week at Christian David Moravies Primary which means more standing around for me. I haven’t really done any computer training since I’ve been here, but instead have been alternating between teaching, sports development, and child care. I’ve done child care once and it is definitely not my cup of tea. The children there are just too young compared with the ones at the primary. It’s come to a point where the kids at the primary have come to know who I am and are starting to remember my name. A bunch call me Superman because of a shirt I wore one day. There is a certain handful of kids I’ve grown fond of that come running to me everyday to play with them or who simply just want to be around me. Conroy is probably one of my favorite students. He’s the kid that I’m swinging in the picture below.

Teaching Conroy how to fly

On Tuesday, Emily (New York) and I, along with four other volunteers decided not to go to the school and instead go on a wine tour in Stellenbosch. We figured it would be okay since the kids were still taking exams. Better than just standing around. We did a hop on, hop off wine tour around northern Stellenbosch.

The first winery we went to at the Cat Sanctuary in Stellenbosch.

By the way, this is my very first wine tour ever! Our first stop was at a Cat Sanctuary where we saw a few lions, leopards, tigers, and a cheetah. I know, I know; tigers aren’t native in Africa.

These lions were hung over from all the wine

After that, we hopped to five different wineries…or at least everyone else did. I passed out after the third winery and slept in the back of the tour bus all afternoon. Whoops.

Slept like a brick at 4 in the afternoon.

I don’t wanna point any fingers but the combination of motion sickness tablets and wine makes me extra drowsy. The tablets on their own can make you snoozy. There’s no way I would survive Africa without them though. I did however manage to dissect a few different wines. The University of Stellenbosch created a new type of wine popular in South Africa called Pinotage. It is a marriage of Pinot Noir and a specific variety of grape blends. I was not a fan. It had a strong, all of a sudden, woody after-taste.

When we got back, Chris (Michigan) told me that Tim was kinda angry that we didn’t show up to class. It seems that several teachers didnt show up and we were desperately needed for several classes. Another whoops. Tuesday meant it was Brass Bell night for the Rec and Palmer house. It’s the only time of week that everyone from both houses go out as one. Brass Bell is a karaoke bar in Kalk Bay we go to every Tuesday night. I find it to be a great way to wind down and relax with my new Cape Town cohorts. This week, myself along with the other DTR guys had to sing a song from Red Hot Chili Peppers. I don’t remember the song as I rarely heard it before. The girls sang Backstreet Boys I believe. Overall a great night! More to come though! I have to water down these posts a bit, so much information, so little time to write them :).

One of my housemates, Laura (California), with a gigantic bottle of wine.