The South African wine industry produces about one billion litres of wine annually – that’s enough to fill 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools to the brim with delicious vino. With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that some of the best wine tastings take place in South Aftrica, namely Stellenbosch, which holds the glory of having the most wine awards per capita than any other region in South Africa.
Stellenbosch is a town in the Western Cape province of South Africa and is the primary location for viticulture and viticulture research. The Stellenbosch Wine Route established in 1971, known as Stellenbosch American Express Wine Routes since 2002, is a world renowned tourist destination, and was South Africa’s first wine route.
Stellenbosch lies at the foot of the Cape Fold mountain range, which provides soil perfect for viticulture. This, combined with the well-drained hilly terrain and Mediterranean climate, prove excellent for viticulture and produces quality wines.
How to prepare for wine tasting in Stellenbosch
Decide which cellar you wish to visit and allow at least one hour for each wine farm. Try to join at least one cellar tour as it will be most informative, and make sure you pick up a map of the Stellenbosch wine routes from your accommodation.
Decide where you want to enjoy lunch, and arrive at your last cellar at least an hour before closing time to ensure you can taste their wines. Appoint a designated driver and drive safely, or take the stress away by taking a driving tour.
Most cellars request that you buy a glass to taste their wines and usually don’t allow tasting out of any other glass other than those sold by them – but at least you can keep the glasses as souvenirs! Each cellar has a limit to the amount of wine you may taste, ask the tasting room assistant for details.
Taste dry white wines first, proceed to red wines, and sample the sweeter wines last. Sparkling wines can be enjoyed in between to clean your palate. The tasting order will allow your palate to progress naturally. Make sure you don’t swallow every wine you taste or your tour might get a little messy, so spit the wine into the spittoons provided in the tasting rooms. Visit http://www.wineroute.co.za/ for more information about the Stellenbosch wine routes.
A2B Tours & Charters offers custom-made tours with private chauffer drivers. Routes can include a range of different wineries and cellar tours tailored to suit the customer. Tours start from $45 USD per day which excludes the winery tastings, which start from $2 USD per person. Full day chauffeured drives start from $180 USD per day per car. Visit http://www.a2btours.co.za for more information.
Adventure Shop Vine Hopper
With the Vine Hopper wine tours you can experience the Stellenbosch Wine Route by way of a Hop on Hop off service. Each of the wine tours can take you to six different wine estates in one day. Tours start from $22 USD per person, prices do not include wine tasting fees. Visit http://www.vinehopper.co.za for more information.
Where to stay
The Wild Mushroom Boutique Hotel
The Wild Mushroom Boutique Hotel is located in a residential area in Stellenbosch and provides classic luxury with a contemporary flavour close to the Cape winelands. There are six en suite bedrooms in the boutique hotel style country house. Each window offers an unobstructed view of the blue Boland Mountains and each room’s decor tells the tale of a specific mushroom species.
Located at 39 Digteby Estate, Vlottenburg Road, Stellenbosch, stay at The Wild Mushroom Boutique Hotel from $90 USD per night. Visit http://www.wildmushroom.co.za/ for more information.
Protea Hotel Dorpshuis & Spa
This elegant Victorian Boutique Hotel in Stellenbosch offers a fusion of vintage and modern sophistication and provides luxury accommodation with a classic ambiance. The Dorpshuis Spa is a unique feature of the hotel where guests can have relaxing spa days and treatments.
Protea Hotel Dorpshuis & Spa has a homely atmosphere and offers 27 individually decorated rooms furnished with antiques and every four star amenity you can expect. It is surrounded by vineyards and mountains and is situated in the heart of the Cape. Rooma at the Protea Hotel start from $130 USD per night. Located at 22 Dorp Street, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, visit http://www.proteahotels.com/ for more information.