Fine wines are made throughout the Western Cape but the geographical triangle between the towns of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl make up the main area often referred to as Winelands. There are about 3,300 grape growers and 600 wine makers and the industry has exploded in the last 15 years.
We hired a private guide, Stephen Flesch president of the Slow Food Movement and former Chairman of the Wine Tasters Guild of South Africa to plan two days of tasting with a free day in between for us to just hang out in Franschhoek. While Stephen is clearly knowledgeable, and obviously gave great thought to planning our stops and tastings, he is little more than a driver, and imparts very little information, nor shows much interest in us. Sadly we can’t help compare this experience to our day with Rob and we found ourselves pining for Rob’s enthusiasm, intellect and company. And had I known Rob was himself a fellow oenophile and a wine maker with a long family history in the business, our plans would have been very different. But we still made the best of our first day with Stephen and visited a very nice cross section of wineries and enjoyed a lovely lunch in this beautiful area that is as lush and stunning as Tuscany.
I’ll list the wineries we visited here and include a few pictures. Suffice it to say, almost everything we tasted was of extremely high quality, from sparkling to whites and reds. The most widely grown white grape is Chenin Blanc and the most widely grown red grape is Cabernet Sauvignon. Detailed wine tasting notes are here.
We visited six wineries and tasted (and mostly spit) 30 wines over the course of the day.
We enjoyed a lovely gastronomic lunch at Jordan overlooking the vineyard and the distant mountains.
Stephen dropped us at our stunningly beautiful hotel which is a series of six guest houses located on a working winery at the foot of the mountains, La Petite Ferme where we settled into our villa with a view and a private pool. This is living!
When we checked in, Michael immediately notice this sign:
Needless to say he was slightly concerned when we checked in and were told never to leave our doors or windows open, not to feed them, confront them or try to pat them (!!). Michael was reassured that they would recognize his male scent and respect his territory as long as they weren’t cornered. But so far we have had no sightings, though I am secretly hoping we will!