Cape Town Wine Tour, South Africa

Day 15

Up at 6:15 this morning; Lisa didn’t think we had enough time to get ready the previous morning so she thought we needed an extra 15 minutes to get ready and eat breakfast. I was feeling much better this morning and spent a lot less time in the wash room. Both Lisa and I were ready to head down for breakfast at 7:15, which gave us 45 minutes to eat, go back to our room and grab our gear then meet the tour guide downstairs at 8:00.

The morning before I had seen a women make a good looking sandwich for breakfast so I decided I would do the same, so I had a sandwich and some yogurt. Lisa had yogurt and some toast, we booth finished quite fast and were back up in our room at about 7:40.

We grabbed our gear and went to the main entrance of the hotel to find out guide.

There was a large bus waiting outside the entrance that was doing a wine tour as well, we first thought it was our bus but it turned out to be another group.

Our driver showed up a few minutes later in a van like the one we had taken the day before. I believe it could hold up to 12 passengers. We and another couple from our hotel were the first on board.

The wine tour guide and driver introduced himself as Mohammed; Lisa and I both thought of Egypt when he said this, as every other guy in Egypt that we met was named Mohammed.

View of the Cape Countryside from the Afrikaans Language Monument

View of the Cape Countryside from the Afrikaans Language Monument

We hoped into the van and the driver informed us that one couple was missing and that we had two others to pick up. We picked up the other two couples; one couple being from our tour the day before and headed off into wine country. I say wine country, but almost every little section of Cape Town is wine country except for maybe the downtown area.

Every other area seems to have a few vineyards. Our driver told us that we would drive out to the furthest point this morning and then make our way back to the downtown. The first part of the drive was going to be about 2 hours long but we were still going to be in the city of Cape Town.

Afrikaans Language Monument

Afrikaans Language Monument

Our first stop of the day was at the Afrikaans Language Monument. The monument was designed by Jan Van Walk and represents the growth and development of the Afrikaans language. We group got out of the van and walked up a few flights of stairs towards the monument; but our guide was also a bit into flowers and was excited to show us the King Protean flower which was located along the path to the monument. After the quick flower lesson we walked up to the monument and our guide started to describe the different parts of the monument and what they represented.

The monument is very modern looking, in fact when I first saw it, I thought it was fairly new but was quite surprised when I read that it was unveiled in 1975. The monument itself was neat to see but didn’t really do much for me. Although the location of the monument on the hillside and the surrounding landscape are quite beautiful and peaceful. Our group was the only one at the monument at the time and we took about 20 minutes to tour the monument and the grounds around it.

We got to our first vineyard Seidelberg at a little after 9:00, just as they had opened up for wine tasting. The vineyard was quite small but very picturesque. The wine processing building and wine shop were located near the top of the vineyard on the side of the mountain; there was a great big open yard with chairs, a table and umbrella’s with a great view of the valley below. It’s the type of place I could imagine myself relaxing in a hammock all day, drinking some wine and eating some good food.

Seidelberg Vineyard, Cape Wine Tour

Seidelberg Vineyard, Cape Wine Tour

Our young guide introduced herself, and then started showing us around the yard and the different equipment used in the process of wine making. We got to go inside the building as well to see the big stainless steel tanks they use when letting the wine sit and ferment.

It was quite small and felt like a really old family oriented wine making vineyard. After the wine making tour we went back out onto the yard of the vineyard where a table and some umbrellas had been set up for us. We all grabbed a seat and our host began to explain the first bottle of wine she was opening. We were also given a sheet of paper and a pen where we could mark down our comments and the score for each wine that we would taste.

We started with a few white wines and then moved into the reds and sampled some of South Africa’s own Pinotage Varietals. Pinotage is a cross of pinot noir vines and hermitage vines; it was created by a man in South Africa quite a long time ago and is a variety you can find in most of the vineyards around South Africa. It was ok but it’s not the type of wine I would go out and buy for Lisa and myself to enjoy.

We spent about an hour tasting the wines at the vineyard; while we were there a ton of young well dressed university kids started showing up; it looked like a scene from the OC. Our guide went on to explain that every weekend the university kids come out to the vineyards and drink wine all day; I liked the sounds of that and probably would have done that myself if I had lived in this part of the world at that age in my life, but unfortunately I’m passed that point, oh well!

Statue of Nelson Mandela at Groot Drakenstein Correctional Centre

Statue of Nelson Mandela at Groot Drakenstein Correctional Centre

After the wine tasting we had the option to buy some of the wines, Lisa and I were going to buy a few but we were then reminded that you can’t bring any fluids through the security checks at the airports and we didn’t really want to risk putting the wine into our luggage; so we didn’t buy any. The wine tour guide gave us the contact details of someone in our country who could import the wine for us, so Lisa and I grabbed that information instead.

After we were finished at the Sidebar Vineyard we hopped back into the van and drove a fair distance to our next stop, the town of Fish Hoek, there our guide took us to the Huguenot monument which was created in 1938 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the settlement of the Hugenots at the Cape. The monument commemorates the event and expresses the descendants gratitude for their protestant heritage.

We spent 10 or 15 minutes wandering the grounds of the monument before hopping into the van and driving back into the middle of the town. There our driver dropped us off and gave us an hour and a half to get lunch and wander the town.

Lunch at the Bouillabaisse restaurant in Fish Hoek

Lunch at the Bouillabaisse restaurant in Fish Hoek

The town looked and felt a lot like the French town Aquaria we visited in New Zealand but was a lot busier. Every street and pretty much every restaurant had a French name but no one actually spoke French. Some of the restaurants on the main street had been named some of the best restaurants in the world over the last couple of years.

Lisa and I stopped at a restaurant called Bouillabaisse, I overhead someone reading a pamphlet that said it had been ranked in the top 100 restaurants of the world in 2008. It was quite a small restaurant but was quite modern looking. I ordered some pan fried calamari. Lisa ordered some vegetable spring rolls, also some scallop and shrimp wontons.

When the food came out I knew it was going to be good; the presentation was excellent. Lisa shared her food with me so I got to try a little of everything; I offered here some of my calamari but she refused. The food was excellent; I would rate it an 8 out of 10. We ate our food and got the bill right away so that we had a little time to walk the town.

Wine Cellar at Beyerskloof Vineyard, Cape Town

Wine Cellar at Beyerskloof Vineyard, Cape Town

We stayed on the main street of the town and almost walked from one end to the other, every other building along the street was either a restaurant or a fancy boutique. It was really odd to see so much difference between the wealth of the people on the street. There were quite a few people who did not look so well off, lying around on the grass and sitting on the fences along the streets. Also there were a lot of people getting out of their Range Rovers, Porsches, Mercedes and Audis – it was pretty weird to see.

We walked the streets for about 30 minutes and then met our driver and the rest of our tour group at a parking lot in the middle of town and hopped back into the van.

I was looking forward to some more wine tasting, the little buzz that I had gotten from the first one was starting to wear off and I was feeling quite thirsty but unfortunately we made another touristy stop in another small university town which had a lot of Dutch style architecture in the main part of the town.

Wine tasting in the win cellar at Beyerskloof Vineyard, Cape Town

Wine tasting in the win cellar at Beyerskloof Vineyard, Cape Town

Our driver drove around the town and stopped in the middle of it, then gave us 45 minutes to walk around and do some shopping if we wanted to. Lisa isn’t much into shopping and neither am I.

Lisa wanted some ice cream so we went looking for some ice cream. Well we walked up and down almost every street and were almost out of time before we stopped and asked one of the locals who pointed to a little store that was right beside where our guide had stopped and let us out.

We went into the store and met up with most of our tour group who I guess was looking for some ice cream as well. Lisa had a cone and I decided to have one as well; actually it ended up being Gelato; the really good style of ice cream.

It was really good ice cream to, and hit the spot.

We hopped into the van and we were finally off to our final destination which was our final wine tasting vineyard of the day, Beyerskloof. The vineyard was not too far outside the town and we got there in a few minutes. When we arrived the parking lot of the vineyard was pretty packed. We managed to get one of the last spots.

Our wine tour van in the parking lot of Beyerskloof Vineyard

Our wine tour van in the parking lot of Beyerskloof Vineyard

We hopped out of the tour van and walked up to the vineyard. We were greeted at the entrance by one of the workers at the vineyard; it looked like our driver knew who he was. When we entered the main building it looked like a party, there was music playing people walking around with glasses of wine in their hands, and it looked like the place to be.

Unfortunately there was no room for our tour group anywhere so our guide took us downstairs into the cellar. The cellar was actually really cool as well. In the main area, there were jerseys on the walls with signatures all over them; I didn’t recognize any of the teams but I’m assuming they were professional soccer, rugby and cricket teams from South Africa. The jerseys were all signed and I’m assuming they were jerseys the owner of the vineyard had collected over the years.

Also there was a glass door with the keys in it, and on the other side it looked to be a huge wine cellar with tons of wine bottles from roof to floor. Our vineyard host took off for a few minutes but when he returned he opened the door to the big cellar, and allowed us to go in and take pictures.

He told us that it was the vineyards owner’s personal wine collection; it was pretty cool inside. Other than racks full of wine there was a table at the far end of the room that looked like it could fit about 12 people; I could just picture myself going down there with some buddies and having a few drinks; it would be awesome! I snapped a few pictures inside the wine cellar and then headed back to the main area where our host was waiting for us with our first wine sample.

Again we started with two bottles of whites, of which one of the whites was made with the Pinotage Varietals but hadn’t been blended with the skins long enough to absorb any of the red color from the skins. After the two bottles of white our host brought out a few bottles of red; some Pinotage a Merlot and another two bottles which I can’t remember what they were.

After the wine tasting, we got a few shots with our wine touring group in the cellar of Beyerskloof. Again we had the chance to purchase the wines and a pepperoni sausage they had given us during the wine tasting to cleanse our palettes but we didn’t buy anything and neither did anyone in the group. We hopped back in the van and headed back to Cape Town city center which was about a good 45 minute drive.

Our driver dropped everyone off at three different hotels and gave us the option to be dropped off at the waterfront, but Lisa and I were pretty tired and just wanted to go back to our hotel room. So that is what we opted for without hesitation.

Back at the hotel Lisa and I relaxed on our beds and tried to figure out what we wanted to do for supper; but neither of us was really all that hungry. In the end we just ended up eating some snacks and sitting in our room and watching some movies.

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