South Africa is eighth in the world in wine production and much of this wine in produced in Stellenbosch. Stellenbosch is located about an hour east of Cape Town and is home to over 200 vineyards. This fact was a bit overwhelming to me as a first-time visitor so I decided to book a guided tour to lead me in the right direction.
Our "Day Wine Tour" through the Wine Flies Tour company started around 8 am when we were picked up from our AirBnB by our tour guide. We then picked up some more people from their various hotels and then headed east for about 45 mins to our first stop... Mitre's Edge Vineyard.
Mitre's Edge Wine Estate is a boutique family-owned vineyard. When we pulled up to the vineyard, I was impressed by the beauty of the grape vines surrounding this amazing white house that anchors the wine estate. We were greeted by a crew of friendly dogs of various sizes that clearly run the place. After introducing ourselves to the canine inhabitants, we descended a winding staircase to the cellar where our tasting would take place. At Mitre's Edge Vineyard, our presentation started with a lesson on how to properly taste wine. First, you must look at the color of the wine and inspect the clarity of the wine. Next, you smell the wine to pick up on the flavors within the wine. You then give the wine a swirl to oxygenate the wine and release more of its aroma. Additionally, the timing and appearance of how the wine residuals move down the glass allude to the sweetness and alcohol content in the wine. Finally, you taste the wine making sure to coat your entire palate to ensure you are able to appreciate every flavor.Now to the wine... We started with a wine tasting and cheese pairing. I will list the wine and cheese pairings below in case you want to know the best wines to pair with certain cheeses. I was amazed at how the wine enhanced the taste of the cheese and vice versa. After tasting the wines, I decided to purchase the Cabernet Sauvignon.Wine and Cheese Pairings:
Chenin Blanc which pairs well with a cheese that has a bit of acidity paired with feta cheese.
Mitre's Edge Classic Red (a mix of Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Shiraz) paired with cheddar.
Cabernet Franc paired with mild cheddar cheese.
Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Camembert.
Sholto (mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec) paired with blue cheese.
We then made our way to the next vineyard on the tour, Villiera Wines Vineyard. Villiera Wines is very eco-friendly and has not used pesticides since 1995. This vineyard also not only produces traditional wines but also produces sparkling wines or MCC (Methode Cap Classique). We started in the cellar where we found out how wine is produced.
We then went outside to the terrace where we enjoyed some sparkling and traditional wines.
List of wines we tasted:
Tradition Brut which is a dry champagne.
Mondo Brut which is a champagne made of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay blend. It is not opened until after being bottled for 7 years.
Tradition Brut Rose is a finished Pinotage. My favorite!
Jasmine Fragrant White is a mix of Moscato, Riesling, and Gewurztraminer. This wine has tropical fruit flavors and apparently pairs well with Thai green curry according to our tour guide.
Next, we went to visit Middelvlei Wine Estate where we had lunch. This vineyard also had an adorable farm complete with farm animals including roosters, cows, and goats. We were served a traditional Braai lunch but since I don't eat meat I was given a tasty vegetarian alternative. During lunch, we were offered both a white and a red wine to taste. Sorry, I did not catch the names of the white wine but the red wine was a Pinotage which is a mix of Pinot Noir and Hermitage. After we finished eating, we had a bit of time to hang out on the grounds and enjoy the sunshine. Of course, a photo shoot ensued.
After our quick break, we headed into the cellar to do a barrel tasting. Barrel tasting offers you the opportunity to taste a wine while it is being aged so if you like the taste, you can imagine it will be more intense once it's bottled.
We then went to a lovely boutique winery, Lovane. Lovane Boutique Wine Estate was started in 2003 and is one of the smallest vineyards in Stellenbosch. Despite its young age and size, it has won coveted awards for its wine. We were treated to a wine and chocolate pairing which was a nice treat. Once again, it was amazing how the chocolate enhanced the taste of the wine.
Wine and Chocolate pairings:
Sauvignon Blanc paired with white chocolate infused with cilantro and lemongrass
Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Cocoa and Strawberry
Isikhati which means future in Zulu is a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc paired with Chai infused milk chocolate.
Petit Verdot (my favorite) paired with chocolate covered cranberries.
Cape Vintage which is Lovane's dessert wine.
Our last stop was at the Vergenoegd Wine Estate. When we stepped out of the tour bus, we were greeted by a herd of ducks walking in an orderly fashion to the holding area. These ducks are used as a natural pesticide and eat the bugs that would otherwise ruin the grapevines. I spent an embarrassing amount of time playing with the ducks and feeding them.
We then sat down out on the front porch of the main house under a beautiful trellis covered in ivy. I felt very posh and it was a great way to end our day. This stop was way more laid back than the previous stops in that we had more time to sit and enjoy the scenery.Wine Tasting List:
Runner Duck White is Sauvignon Blanc (2009) which has notes of apple, gooseberry, pineapple, and gooseberry. This was my favorite.
Terrace Bay is a mix of reds including Shiraz and Merlot
Cape Colony Vintage dessert wine
If you visit Cape Town, I highly recommend doing a guided day tour of Stellenbosch given that there are so many vineyards to choose from. I really enjoyed the Wine Flies tour (this is not a sponsored post and these opinions are my own) and liked that lunch was included. Additionally, we were able to enjoy the tour with a really great group of people from around the world which enhanced the experience. By the end of the tour and after many glasses of wine we were quite a tight-knit group.Overall, I really enjoyed my day in Stellenbosch and came home with 5 bottles of excellent wine. I hope to return again and visit more vineyards.