Although the Winelands are only 40 minutes drive from Cape Town, we chose to stay for a few nights rather than day-trip from the city. Most of the estates welcome visitors, and as well as wine tasting, many of them have restaurants and accommodation. David was in seventh heaven - so much so that we altered our plans and spent another two nights in the region at the end of our trip. By then I had had such a great time at the safari parks we visited I was willing to agree to almost anything.
Cape Dutch Architecture -
After more than three decades of travelling the world with David, I am one of those people who comes to a church, castle or monastery and thinks, 'Oh no not another one!' I have seen enough medieval, renaissance and just plain 'old' buildings to last me a life-time, but even I was enchanted by the Wineland's Cape Dutch architecture.
Cape Dutch architecture has white-washed walls (sometimes yellow), large attractive gables and thatched roofs. Its roots are in the styles of medieval Holland and Germany, where many of the first European settlers came from. I defy anyone to look at a Cape Dutch building and moan - 'Oh no, not another one!'
|Cape Dutch architecture at Vergelegen|
|Cape Dutch architecture at Groot Constantia - Cape Town|
Our guide book described Vergelegen as one of the most stunning of all the Wineland Estates and I absolutely agree. Despite it being a bit out of the way we didn't want to miss it so we called in for lunch on our way to the Winelands.
My Tip: - We just turned up and got a table but we arrived quite early. If you know you want lunch at Vergelegen ring ahead and book.
|The view from the restaurant|
Delaire Graff is the winery to visit if you want stunning scenery. We had lunch there - twice. The first time it was a magnificent blue-sky day, we sat outside in the front row of tables and just soaked up the view.
The second time, a couple of weeks later, we had an inside table with a view of the carpark. It had rained the night before and the outside area was closed. None of the inside tables have good views. Without the view, Delaire Graff is just another restaurant.
My tips: - Reserve a table in advance. You can do this on-line. If it looks like rain, ring ahead and check whether the outside areas will be open.
|The lunchtime view on a fine day from Delaire Graff|
|The outside tables at Delaire Graff restaurant|
Are you getting the impression that the Winelands are all about eating! I am sure there is a lot of drinking too but David and I mostly stuck to eating. Eggs benedict for breakfast every day, two-course lunches and three-course dinners really started to take their toll.
On our return visit I was determined to cut down on the lunches at least, so we tried a picnic 'Sth African wine estate style'. Many of the wineries we visited had beautiful picnic areas where you could indulge in one of their gourmet hampers. At Zorgvliet we chose the smallest hamper, left half the food untouched and still managed to eat too much - oh well!
My tip:- Don't eat anything at all for at least six months before you visit the Winelands and you may, provided you are very careful, be able to come out of the experience without packing on extra kilos.
|The picnic area at Zorgvliet|
|Our gourmet picnic|
Many of the large wine estates have accommodation as well as restaurants, picnic areas and wine tasting. On our way back to Cape Town, we stayed two nights at Asara Wine Estate. The fine dining restaurant was closed both nights so I can't tell you what its food was like. We had dinner both nights at 'Sansibar', Asara's casual dining venue and still managed to eat too much. In the mornings the view from the terrace at breakfast was stunning.
My tip: - The photos and descriptions of the different categories of rooms on Asara's website don't quite match the actual rooms so if you want a particular feature like a fireplace, view across the lake, or free standing bath, send an email and ask for it. We didn't get the room we expected. However when we raised the issue after our first night we were moved to another room. The staff were pleasant, efficient and helpful in dealing with the problem.
|Asara Wine Estate - the view from the breakfast terrace|
The topic of next week's post will be our first game park - Botlierskop Private Game Reserve. Keep an eye out for it next Friday/Saturday.
For last week's post click here.
For links to the full list of my South African road trip posts click here.