Just outside of Cape Town, you’ll find a town adorned with vineyards as far as your eyes can see. Not only will you be able to experience wine tasting in an unforgettable way, you will also find some of the best landscape pairings with your wine! 😉
The morning we were heading out from Cape Town, we asked our concierge to recommend some good vineyards famous for wine tasting in Stellenbosch. To our surprise, they also recommended locations for champagne, brandy, and beer tastings within Stellenbosch and Paarl itself! We were thrilled to be experiencing something so different. A champagne tasting… mmmm. That’s a dream for just about any lady.
We decided we wanted to taste them all, and the map below is how we decided to go about fitting it into one day. The trip from Cape Town to Stellenbosch and covering all the 4 locations described below is a total of 90km. I promise you can do this all in one day, at your leisurely pace. Also, if you plan on excessively day drinking beyond the permitted limit for driving, I recommend having a designated driver appointed for the day! I want to be clear that I do not condone drinking and driving.
We arrived at Spier Wine Estate, a stunning location surrounded by lakes and greenery. At the entrance you’ll find a small market full of beautiful South African trinkets and souvenirs. We ordered a tasting set for each of us, which came with 5 types of wines of your choice, and a large platter decorated with an assortment of olives, cheeses, and jams. When I was in Melbourne and visiting the wineries at Yarra Valley, I didn’t have to pay for a tasting. At most wineries you might not have to, but in Stellenbosch they do take a small fee, and it’s only fair considering the amount of wine you get, and all the small eats that come along with it! Spier’s best and the most expensive wine bottle, was an award winning Pinotage, on sale at cost price for a mere 200 Rand. That’s 800 THB or roughly $25 USD. Such delicious wine at a ridiculously cheap price is unheard of in Bangkok, even at cost price. I wish I could bring a suitcase full of red wines back with me from South Africa, but I already loaded up on too many Gin bottles. Oops.
The next location we decided to venture off to was called Van Ryn’s Brandy Distillery. My mom was probably the most excited about this tasting as she absolutely loves Brandy. Her excuse is that it keeps her warm when it’s cold outside… okay mother, I believe you! As we entered the distillery, we were greeted by friendly staff that handed us free brandy based cocktails. Those were divine, and so refreshing. After studying the tasting menu, my mom decided she wanted her own tasting of four glasses of differently aged brandy; 10, 12, 15, and 20 years. My sister, my dad, and I opted to taste one set together; the 12, 15, and 20 year old brandy, and we decided which one we would get based on our own age hierarchy. Once you order your brandies, the bartender will walk you through each of the brandies and discuss the flavors, scents, and pairings with various chocolate and fruit based cookies with you. It was quite insightful. I took about an hour to finish my one glass of brandy, while my mom enjoyed her four glasses in the same time span. She says it was delicious, so I’m going to believe her, especially considering I do not fancy this variety of alcohol.
Fun Fact: Did you know that brandy is also made from fermented grapes?! Don’t worry, I didn’t either.
We were slightly buzzed, as we pulled into J.C. Le Roux, a famous local champagne distillery. You will be asked to select the type of Champagne tastings they provide; the only difference in the set menus are the items these champagnes are paired with; olives, nougat, or meringues. Do not worry, the champagne assortment is the same for all set-menus. At a price of approximately 70 Rand (200 THB or $8 USD), you’ll receive a tasting of 5 different champagnes, of roughly 100mL per glass, all with it’s own pairing pieces depending on the option you select. Since we were curious to see what all the options provided in terms of pairings, we ordered one set menu of each option, and doubled on the meringue set menu, as we are four people after all and all of us wanted our own champagne set to taste! That is a decent portion, especially for champagne. If you love your champagne, you will find that J.C. Le Roux’s champagne is almost the same as having a glass of Moët & Chandon.
In order to get the best service at this distillery and not have to wait for a table, make sure to reserve a table in advance; one for the tasting, and one for the restaurant area. I highly recommend lunching at their in-house restaurant. The food was delectable, and just want we needed to soak up all that alcohol.
Heading to Spice Route for some beer tasting was the last thing on our bucket list for the day before driving to Montagu. Unfortunately we arrived at the venue slightly past 5:30pm. This is roughly the time that all vineyards and tasting venues close, so make sure you start day drinking early so you can make it to all the locations, unlike myself! As they say, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right? Nonetheless, we did order some wheat-based beers at their outdoors restaurant and enjoyed them with a great backdrop and sundowner to close off the day. And that folks, is how you day drink your way through Stellenbosch!