Spending a year traveling the world with E & S is something incredible; however, there are times during the trip in which having two minors around can be a little – uh – limiting. Trips to the various wine regions of the countries we visit are some of these trying times.
The original Dutch settlers of the Cape (working to assist the Dutch East India Company) originally planted vineyard to produce grapes and wine – partly to reduce scurvy in the sailors sailing around the Cape of Good Hope between Europe and East Asia. The first winery was established in 1685 by the Dutch Governor of the Cape. Wine was the first cash-“crop” exported from the region.
Jeni and I can remember our first trip to the Napa Valley… it was such an overwhelming experience with all the choices of wineries, all the different wine regions of the valley, and – ultimately – too many choices which almost paralyzes a person. Trying to plan a winery visit in the areas surrounding Cape Town proved to be slightly overwhelming.
Plus… we had only one day to try and see the area. This is because 15- and 12-year old kiddos don’t tend to like extended trips to wineries.
We decided to travel the 70 minutes or so to the Stellenbosch wine region, choosing two wineries that were on several “best pick” lists from travel and food magazines. Unlike in the Napa Valley, wineries in South Africa (and Mendoza if you recall a prior post) are allowed to have resturatunts associated with the wineries. This leads to – in our opinion -the best way to try wines. Pairing them with food!
With only two wineries on the list (our kiddos can really only tolerate two visits), we needed to find wineries with both well regarded cabernets for Jeni and sparkling wines for myself. Luckily, in addition to producing still wines, many South African wineries produce a sparkling wine in the Méthode Champenoise style. Happy Happy Joy Joy!
Our first visit was to the little town of Franschhoek and a visit to Haute Cabriére winery.
The tasting room was set in the foothills of a mountain, and one can see the day was absolutely stunning. It matched the view and the meal.
Not only was this a multi-course meal, but all the items were paired with wine… and all for roughly $28 USD. This was an incredible deal and the wine pairings were awesome. Too bad one of us still needed to drive the rest of the day.
Similar to our winery meals in Argentina, this one took about 2.5 hours. Kiddos did quite well with the extended meal, but were ready to move on to the next place.
We did make sure to walk away with a bottle of their premier Blanc de Blanc. We eventually drank this back in Cape Town and it was scrumptious.
After lunch, we stopped for a bit to walk on the Main Street of Franschhoek to let our legs get some work after the long lunch. The town certainly reminded us of the St. Helena (Napa Valley) Main Street although it was a bit smaller. In one of the small art shops along the street, we found some really cute metal sculptures that we just had to purchase and ship home to Texas. It is kinda weird buying something that we won’t see again for another 9 months or so…
Our second stop for the day was a historic Cape Dutch farm, the complex known as Babylonstoren. In addition to producing wine, this is a working farm, a hotel, spa, and all-around destination for relaxation. We chose this one for its Bordeaux style blends (and they also produced a sparkling!).
We spend the first hours just walking around the farm. They had lovely flowers and plants, as well as pens for ducks and geese and donkey. There was even a little hanging “nest” for E to pose from.
For some reason, I didn’t get a photo of the tasting room… but it matched the scenery of the farm. We were able to taste their Bordeaux blend for just under $1 USD a glass while their sparkling was about $1.66 USD a glass. Unfortunately, we really couldn’t taste too much as we had to drive back to Cape Town. But we did pick of a bottle of their Nebukadnesar (which was also made for a great evening wine back in Cape Town)?
By this time, the kiddos were ready to get back to the apartment. So we piled back into the car and drove home. Jeni and I vowed to return for a few nights to this wine region – especially as we start to plan our next RTW trip tentatively scheduled for 2022.