By Vuyiseka Geza
South Africa’s wine lands located in the Cape floral kingdom boast the most beautiful geographical surroundings. It is this natural beauty that has boosted wine tourism in the Western Cape. Famous for producing new-world wines, a rather peculiar term for an industry that has been around for more than three centuries, the Cape wine lands rank among the best in the world, and so do the wines they produce.
The secret to these flavoursome wines lies in the diversity of soils along with that of climate, forming the perfect “terroir”. It is for this natural gift that the wine routes have incorporated hospitality into winemaking, creating a combination of natural beauty, upmarket accommodation and world-class restaurants.
“Our wineries are diverse, offering many different wines and experiences and we work on each member’s strengths. There is a lot of sharing of information and knowledge,” says Bonita Malherbe, manager of the Robertson Wine Valley.
Linking-up with the Great Wine Capitals Network, the Cape wineries have mixed traditional with cutting-edge technology. Quoted in Winescape magazine, Clarence Johnson, Cape Winelands District Municipality Mayor, says, “The network provides an important forum for the public and private sectors to explore business and investment opportunities. Through the exchange of information and expertise, we can enhance not only wine tourism, but also South Africa’s global competitiveness.”
Due to soil, climate and cultural diversity, the Cape wine lands are a combination of Bilbao-Rioja (cultural sites, cuisine and food), Florence (scenery, olive groves and art galleries), Melbourne (seaside resorts, mountains and diverse climate), and San Franscisco (golf resorts, food and wine festivals) all in one. They are purely for you to enjoy, relax and be inspired.
The winemakers have taken responsibility for land conservation by supporting the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative to conserve over 50 000 hectares of land. This will be achieved by conserving one hectare as a natural habitat for every hectare of vineyard farmed by 2010.
Lush vineyards surrounding first-world wine cellars at the foot of the mountains, sea views and the beautiful valleys all create a unique ambience. And each of the destinations makes a unique contribution to wine tourism.
Where to stop on the wine route
At the Robertson Wine Valley you can enjoy the half marathon mountain biking challenge, boat cruises, sunset game drives, live music, wine tastings, children’s activities, hiking, picnics and wine museum tours. The Robertson Wacky Wine Weekend, at the beginning of June, is already booked out for this year – but don’t miss it next year. In 2010 the festival will take place from 4- June before the World Cup.
Only 10 years ago Durbanville Hills celebrated its first wines, and they now constitute one of the most popular premium ranges in the country – for those with expensive taste. This is no surprise, as their chardonnay was awarded a gold medal at Veritas.
At Tulbagh you can look forward to experiencing the heritage and magnificent country living, tranquillity being the operative word. They host the most beautiful and memorable country weddings. You can also indulge in cheese, chocolate and olive tastings, enjoy cape cuisine and see art museums.
The Wonderful Wines of Darling is what the wine evenings are called at Darling Wines, where you can enjoy the wines with gourmet braais.
South African brandy is made from distilled wine, so it makes sense that the wine routes would comprise of brandy routes as well, which make a different contribution to the panorama. Brandy and chocolate complement each other, which is why the Western Cape and R62 Brandy Routes offer exclusive brandy and chocolate tastings.
In Stellenbosch, South Africa’s first dedicated house of sparkling wines – JC Le Roux – situated in the heart of the picturesque Devon Valley, has reopened its doors after extensive refurbishments. Here you can expect insightful cellar tours and tastings in the ultra-modern cellar, fun-filled picnics in the sun and mouth-watering meals at the deli-style restaurant. The new oyster bar, with sea-fresh oysters and the finest bubblies, is the ultimate hotspot for a pick-me-up pampering.
At Santé Wineland Estate you will be pampered at their wellness centre with vinotherapy (using products made from grapes).
With all this on offer, what more could one ask for? Lest you forget! After the Winter Season festivals, Springtime is Sauvignon Blanc time and you know the Western Cape is where it’s at. A toast – to variety!