It is no secret that I am fond of a nice red wine. Not just that, but to me, few experiences are as enjoyable as travelling around a wine region, tasting delicious varieties and soaking up the scenery. That is why for me, wine tasting in South Africa’s famed Stellenbosch region was a must do.
We found Luhambo Tours, which offers many options for day trips around the Stellenbosch/Franschoek area (close to Cape Town). Originally we had planned to do a cheese and wine tour, but as it was booked up, we decided to go for a more traditional option, the Stellenbosch/Franschoek tour, at a cost of 795 ZAR (~$80) each, including four wineries.
We were picked up from the very luxurious Westin Hotel (not where we were staying, unfortunately) and introduced to our fantastic guide Marlene and the rest of those on board, a fun mix of nationalities. We headed out for our first winery, all a bit quiet but contently listening to Marlene spout her very impressive wine knowledge. Fabulously, though, despite this, she stressed that it was all about fun, and made everyone from the seasoned wine drinker to the I-put-orange-juice-in-my-champagne-to-make-it-bearable newbie feel totally comfortable.
After our first lovely winery where we tried South Africa’s famous pinotage, we headed for the second. By this time there was a little more chatter amongst the group. We stopped in at a great vineyard where you tasted wine outside under a leafy verandah. Gorgeous!
By this point, Marlene was laughing that the ‘personality juice’ had kicked in, and the mood on the bus had skyrocketed. One of the highlights of this great trip was the great conversation amongst us all.
We stopped for a lunch at a nice restaurant with a gorgeous view, before heading on to the next winery. It was another outdoors stop (I love this, and wish it would catch on elsewhere) but we were seated as our super friendly host demonstrated a number of delicious wine varieties.
Our final stop was an inside cellar door, at quite a large winery. We were able to go up to the ‘bar’, choose a glass, and then sit back down and chat amongst ourselves, while making notes on a piece of paper. The only problem was, by this point we were all having such a great time swapping travel stories, the wine seemed to be a second priority! Nonetheless, it was such a lovely experience that we bought a couple of bottles to enjoy later and reminisce.
All in all, wine tasting is a must do in my opinion, and something that anyone would enjoy. I totally recommend Luhambo Tours and especially Marlene as a guide (and no, I’m not getting anything to say this!)