I didn’t know this southern tip of the african continent and southern tip of South Africa is so blessed with a weather that is perfect for vineyards and orchards.
I wasn’t thinking about going around for a winery tour, but locals think it’s a MUST. I was convinced.
The following info were gathered from the locals and some based on personal experience…etc.
The wineries dot the towns of Paarl and Stellenbosch. The huge wineries produce their wines and brandy for export. But due to local demand, some have ventured into production for local consumption. The history of wine making in this part of the region dates back as early as 300 years ago. Not sure how exactly did the Dutch arrive in Western Cape. I need to learn more about that.
At about 12 noon, I had to meet my tour guide, Neels, at Checkers. I am coming from the morning field service, so I was still wearing my field service attire. Not bad, wines are for the classy! Hehe…
We headed to the towns of Stellenbosch and Paarl. When I checked the map, I can’t believe there’s that many winery in the area. They literally dot the whole place. Maybe most of Paarl are actually wineries.
While the northern hemisphere is thawing in hot summer, it’s wintertime in this part of the planet!
KWV Winery, Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa
KWV was our first stop. I found out later how big this winery is, that moving to the next winery might not be possible. We checked the schedule for Sunday. We’re just in time for the English tour. There’s also a German tour in the afternoon.
After making several turns, we finally found our way to KWV. The winery boutique showcases the finest they got.
There’s video presentation for the guests. It’s a short video. After it was shown, the presentor (a white man probably in his late 50s) asked who in the crowd is not South African. I’m the only one who raised his hand. He then asked me where I’m from. It turns out that the presentor (who will also be our tour guide) had been to the Philippines during the Marcos’ era when there were still flights to Europe. Traveling directly to and from the Philippines must have been easier then than now.
The tour started. The group is made up mostly of young couples and perhaps a bunch of college students plus some few seniors. This is not a thing for the kids, obviously.
I’d say I was awed by these huge oak barrels. This company is up for serious business.
Some of the gigantic oaks even have carvings that present the history of winemaking. Interesting! I’ve never been very interested with wine prior to this visit. Well, being a chemist, this should be close to my heart. Should it? I am loving this place already.
We also checked on the gigantic distillation containers for brandy. I think I have seen similar things before during our plant tour in one of Asia Brewery’s beer-making plant in Cabuyao, Laguna.
And some more gigantic oak barrels…
Nothing beats these…possibly the mothers of all barrels.
The tour will not be complete without the much-anticipated wine-tasting session. This was an equally informative part of the tour. The tour guide surely knows his trade. I’m guessing he actually owns the winery! Lols.
We were given a taste of some of their fine wines – red and white, and of brandy. Now I know which wine goes along best with what type of food.
We went back to the winery shop…Time to pick our choice of wine.
I took home one bottle each of KWV’s merlot and shiraz. They were securely packed in a corrugated box with styro cushion. Problem is…how would they fit inside my luggage bag? Will customs allow entry of these items at FOC? I will mind that later.
Vrede en Lust Wine Farm & Estate, Simondium, Western Cape, South Africa
After KWV, we moved to another winery in Simondium, several minutes of drive away from KWV in Paarl.
On the way, we were treated with a scenic view. I believe that’s Heldelberg Mountain
Vrede en Lust Wine Farm & Estate is small-sized. Most of its patrons are probably local tourists from other states. But owing to its proximity to the university of Stellenbosch, some patrons are students from the university. Are they allowed to come here for the winetasting? I’m not sure. But if my university was close to this, I’d be much delighted to be a regular too!
We tried some of their wines. Some wines may be tasted for free. Some with a nominal fee. It’s all worth it, I guess. They have amicable attendants. The ambiance was relaxing, very laid back and countryside. It offers a good view of what I assume to be Helbelderg Mountain.
I took home a bottle of white wine. I don’t remember what exactly was it. It never made it in my apartment in Makati. I had to consume it during my stay in Richard’s Bay after learning that customs in Manila will only allow me to bring in two liters (or 2 bottles) of wine at free-of-charge. Plus I don’t want to be bringing around such a heavy baggage. My international flights via Emirates allows for 30 kg of baggage while for domestic, it’s only 23 kg. (eventually, I had to pay extra for the excess baggage on my JHB-RCB domestic flight).
We went home with many good memories from the tour. I would love to do it again, if given the chance.
On our way home, we were greeted by the cascading shadows of the mountains or such a lazy and long winding road or just farms along valleys.
I wish driving is as easy in the Philippines as it is here. At dusk, we went through Stellenbosch University before heading back to Somerset West. It looks like a typical laid-back European University. Beats my already lushy-green and expansive university back there in the Phils.
We had dinner together with Neel’s dear wife – Nelly. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant. But their servings comes close to what a typical American restaurant would – BIGGIE size!
Vergelegen Estate, Somerset West, Western Cape, South Africa
I had one more tour during my last working day in Somerset West. This time to a nearby winery called Vergelegen Estate. This time, Rudie was obliged to give me the tour. Sorry Rudie, you had to do this.
Meanwhile this is the view along the way…
Heading to the farm
Just like the wineries I have visited, this one offers a rich history and an interesting heritage to keep. This became more like a heritage tour than a winery tour. The structures were preserved very well that they look pretty much the same as they did few decades ago. Just older, of course.
Conspicuous in this farm are giant camphor trees. They are said to be over 300 old. Just as old as the buildings here.
See how it dwarfed me and Rudie.
This bell is what they used to call their slaves then.
I would want to have a picnic here with my family during a lazy weekend.
The wine tasting session will always be part of a winery tour. I can’t believe I would be able to drink much. But with so many fine wines to test, it’s just difficult to resist. One is not forced to gulp the whole serving, by the way. It’s a “tasting” after all. Not a drunkard’s session.
Rudie doing it like a pro…
And the beginner me…:D
Thinking I had much in my baggage, I had to resist the urge to take home more wines. Rudie drove me back to the guest house in Rome Glen before sunset. I could start packing my stuff. The following day, Saturday, I had to head upstate to Johannesburg. I wasn’t sure what is waiting for me up there. But there’s one thing I am sure about. The winery tour in this part of Africa is one memorable experience.
I wish I could come back here in this part of the planet. The Western Cape of South Africa has so much to offer. I have seen just a small part of it. I’d like to see more of it next time.