Day 1: We leave Cape Town along the West Coast road, with a brief stop at Blaauberg Strand for the classic view of Table Mountain from the North. We drive through typical Cape coastal dune fynbos (Renosterveld) until we reach our first winery, the historic Grootepost. The unique Dutch architecture of the winery itself reveals a dual-purpose building - both garrison and homestead for the Dutch East India Company on the important Saldanha/Table Bay provisioning route of 1676. The Grootepost wines have achieved remarkable success at both local and international wine expositions.
Wine maker Lukas Wentzel, viticulturist Johan Pienaar, and vineyard manager Jannie de Klerk have between them created some of the Cape’s iconic wines, such as their 2004 Sauvignon Blanc, which received the Michelangelo International Grand D’Or; the 2003 Chardonnay, which won Gold at the Fairburn Capital Trophy Wine Show; and their Merlot and Shiraz. After a cellar tour and introduction we enjoy a tasting of both reds and whites from this famous but seldom-visited winery. We drive on to another estate which has had outstanding success, particularly with its Pinotage. The vineyards of Cloof, part of the Darling group of wineries, blanket the sandy hills just kilometers from the icy currents of the West coast.
These are bushvine wines, and both the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Pinotage have scored 4 stars from the John Platter Tasting Team. The lunch stop is a cultural experience. World-famous satirist and scourge of the former apartheid government, Pieter Dirk Uys has his entertainment headquarters at Evita se Peron in Darling. Lunch guests are invited to browse the walls of both the restaurant and the theatre, where photographs and press cuttings from the career of this South African institution abound.
Late afternoon brings us to the legendary estate of Allesverloren (All is Lost) in the Riebeek-West area. This winery is known for its red wines, particularly the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Shiraz, and the Tinta Barocca, all of which received 4 stars from John Platter. We sample these delectable wines with expert guidance from their maker, Danie Malan. Why do these wines never win awards? Many of the Cape's long-renowned estates have the confidence to keep their wines aloof from what they regard as the arbitrary valuations of a tasting panel. Allesverloren is of this ilk. From the dunes and rolling hills of the Swartland we enter the mountains and valleys as we make our way towards the village of Tulbagh, our overnight stop.
One of the Cape’s best governors was Rijk Tulbagh, and this mountain village with its beautiful drostdy was named in his honour. Church Street has a wonderful series of architectural gems, dating from 1700. Although many of these were razed by the devastating earthquake of 1969, the entire village was restored by the Rembrandt Foundation, following strict principles of Cape Dutch restoration. Overnight with dinner is at Rijk's Country Lodge, an upmarket guesthouse which has a menu to match. Over dinner we enjoy a sneak preview of the wines from the cellar, but leave the real tasting for the morning.
Day 2: After a leisurely breakfast and checkout, we enjoy a walk in the local vineyards of Rijk’s Private Cellar. Wines were first planted here in 1996, so the vintages are all recent, but this has not stopped winemaker Pierre Wahl from winning accolades from the start. The Tulbagh terroir is traditionally white wine specific, yet awards have also been showered on the magnificent reds (70% of plantings). We taste the entire range, including the Semillon. From the new to the old. In Tulbagh, wine is synonymous with the Kroner family. At Twee Jonge Gezellen Nicky Kroner has been making South Africa’s favourite wines for over four decades.
Nicky makes a delicious range of white wines, but his piece de resistance is his Krone Borealis Brut, the bubbly which won the Air France Gold Medal as the world’s finest Champagne-style wine outside Champagne! Nicky will show us around his winery, and explain the benefits of after-dark harvesting, before leading us in a tasting of the estate’s finest. We leave Tulbagh and travel over the historic Bain’s Kloof Pass, the finest achievement of early Victorian road maker Andrew Bain. This incredible piece of early engineering takes us straight into the town of Wellington, recently visited by the current Duke.
We stop for lunch and our final tasting at Diemersfontein, a venerable fruit estate recently planted to wine grapes and now producing some of the Cape’s best wines. This all-red estate has won considerable accolades for its Pinotage, Merlot and Shiraz, and we sample the best vintages after a brief cellar tour in the company of wine maker Bertus Fourie. The tour ends with a half-hour drive through wine country to the drop-off in Cape Town.
Our tour price includes all entrance fees to the vineyards, wine tastings, transportation, guide, pick-up and drop-off at their Cape Town hotel, overnight accommodation bed and breakfast, however all other meals to own account
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