Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Wine Tasting in Stellenbosch!

For our final day in South Africa we decided to go wine tasting. We booked a group tour through the company Tsiba Tsiba purely due to their high TripAdvisor rating. We chose a full day wine tour at a cost of 700 ZAR per person including pick up from a Stellenbosch hotel. However, when the tour guide arrived we had a luxury car as we were the only ones on the trip! Private tours begin at 2,750 ZAR for three people so that was a little bargain for us!

We were asked where we had been and mentioned Delaire Graff and Clos Malverne so decided to avoid these and visit four other wineries instead. I also mentioned we had yet to head to Stellenbosch town centre so we had a little drive through with a history lesson before being given 45 minutes to wander around, which was great. Then we headed to our first winery of the day Beyerskloof. Here we concentrated on the pinotage grape as it's the only grape unique to this area. As a result we tried five red wines before selecting a bottle to bring home. However, as I love white wine a couple were slipped in for me to sample. All of the wineries will wrap the bottles securely in bubble wrap if you want to pop them in your suitcase.

The next stop on our adventure was Simonsig. We started with a glass of their sparkling wine before trying six different wines. As I love white and the hubby is into red we actually chose to sample a completely different selection from one another. Water and toilets are available at every winery too. The staff are excellent and pour generous tastings, all of which are included in the price of the tour but if you were to complete this independently they cost around 30-50p per tasting. At Simonsig we managed to purchase a carrier for 200 ZAR that held six bottles. This was by far the cheapest we saw throughout the day. The carrier is incredibly secure and can be checked in on the flight thus preventing your suitcase from becoming overweight with bottles that may smash into one another.

Our third winery of the day was Delheim. This is where we also chose to stop for lunch and opted to have our wine tasting with our food. We were sat in the sunshine on a terrace overlooking the vineyards and here we used our tasting sheet to select six wines each to try over our meal. We had a reservation as we took a tour but ensure you book a table for lunch if you decide to visit the wineries independently.

As we were flying home that evening we decided to go all out at lunch time! For starter I chose the Eisbein spring roll with creamy apple puree, sauerkraut and pork jus for 45 ZAR whilst the hubby tucked into the fish cake with coriander and ginger, lemon mayonnaise, homemade sweet chilli and cucumber salad for 50 ZAR.

For our main course I opted for the Cape Malay free range chicken curry with a roti, basmati rice, sambal, chutney & roasted coconut and yoghurt & cucumber for 125 ZAR. The hubby went for the lamb shank, roasted garlic mashed potato, red cabbage, spinach and rainbow carrots at a total of 185 ZAR. The food here was genuinely delicious and as we paired the wine tasting with our meal we had no drinks bill! The total meal including two bottles of still water and service charge came to £23.69. You cannot really beat that price for two courses each in such a beautiful setting.

Suitably full from lunch and a little tipsy from the wine tastings we headed off to our final vineyard. This farm was the oldest on our tour and dated back to 1685. All of the wines at Muratie had a story and I absolutely loved hearing the history of each one. Again we opted to try different wines to one another and were helped by a really lovely young guy learning the ropes of the industry.

All in all this was an amazing tour. We saw a huge area of wine country and tried upwards of twenty wines. You are quite free to choose the wineries and the wines tasted at each one. Bottles range from £3 up to around £30 for the wines we tasted. In total we purchased four reds, one sparkling, one white and a dessert wine as well as two bottles of olive oil. We checked the six bottles in with our carrier and stored the olive oil and final bottle in our suitcase. All of them made it safely back to the UK!

I would thoroughly recommend taking a tour. Not only will the guide bring the area to life and tailor your trip to suit your tastes, they will also answer all of your questions or point you in the right direction. We were thoroughly looked after for our day. Splashing out on a private tour I think is worth the extra money as it was great to receive such personal attention. Finally doing a tour prevents the need to hire a taxi for the day, which is probably not dissimilar in price or having a designated driver who cannot immerse themselves in the fun.