Welcome to the Western Cape Wineries - a kiwi's opinion blog

I originally set up this blog to help foreigners have an enjoyable experience when visiting the western cape wineries in South Africa.

I realised that it is very difficult for a tourist to choose where to go and which wineries to visit, when you have 600+ wine producers to choose from.

When I first moved to SA December 2010, my palate struggled to adjust to SA wine, b
ut after living here for a while and after visiting over 100+ wine estates, I have found many wines which I really like and can highly recommend.

Admittingly, when you come from another country it is hard not to compare the wine in SA to what you are used to back home. However, once you realise they are not the same (they have their own characteristics due to the different soil, climate etc) and appreciate their wines for being SA wines, it will improve your opinion and experience of the wines immediately.

If you are staying in SA for a while, don't dispair, your palate will change, and you will soon find yourself liking SA wine over your home countries wine!!

I hope my blog will help wine lovers have an enjoyable wine experience while in SA.

Please note: I am not a wine connoisseur. The comments I write about the wine is mostly for my own benefit of having them on record.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011


This was the third winery on our list for the day. The venue was very nice, we spent some time taking photos at the water, watching the ducks and ducklings swim around, watched children fishing while the family was having a picnic beside the water. It was a lovely setting.

We had booked a table at this place to do a tasting and eat a platter of food. On arrival we were seated at our table, and it did take a little while to be served. Quite a few people had walked in for a tasting and instead of sitting for a tasting, they did it at the tasting bar. I think this had a massive affect on our tasting experience because the staff were too busy to then serve us our wine. We would have been better doing our tasting at the bar and then sitting for the platter. We had hoped to have done both at the same time, but was not a biggy that we couldn't. The staff were very friendly though, and the guy serving wine was very informative.

We tried all the wine. The Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (R70) had really nice flavour and was balanced. The Chardonnay 2009 (R140) had a lovely flavour, but was slightly tart. The Maritimus 2009 (R130) was very nice, it had nice flavour; was a beautiful tropical fruity flavour, and nicely balanced. The Pinot Noir 2009 (R180) smelled nice, but it was not a favourite of mine. It seemed that it might be better after a few more years. The Merlot 2007 (R100) was very nice; I really liked the flavour of this wine. The Epitome 2008 (R160) had nice oak, tobacco and spicy tones, it was mature, and a delicious wine.

There is an outdoor decking which seats about 8 people. If you can book this, its makes for a lovely setting for your platter. They also have tables outside under the trees, which on a non-windy day would also be a lovely place to sit for a platter. The platters available are very nice!! There is a selection of 4 different platters, ranging from R45 to R130. The cheapest option is designed for children as it is a smaller platter, whereas the adults ones range from R70 - 130. The lady who served us gave us the option of getting a big platter for the 6 of us, for something like R450. We all thought this was a great option, and it turned out that the portion was a perfect size for us all. It was delicious also!!!

I do recommend one visits this winery as the whole setting is lovely. If you are a big group though, I do recommend booking a table for a platter, but perhaps do your tasting first at the bar if it is busy.

Newton Johnson

The second winery on our list today was Newton Johnson. The location of this winery is very nice, the building is situated on a hill over looking the walker bay valley. In the distance you can see the ocean. It really was a lovely view!!

The building is modern and very welcoming.

The lady in the tasting room was very friendly, we tried almost all of the wines, and at this winery the tasting is free.

We started with the Newton Johnson Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (R75) which was light, fruity and nice. The Newton Johnson Resonance 2010 (R120) is 84% Sauvignon Blanc and 16% semillon. It was nice and had a lot of flavour!! The Felicite Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (R52) is easy drinking, fruity and light. The Felicite no oak Chardonnay (R52) was light and crisp. The Felicite dry rosé (R52) was 74% Shiraz and 26% Sauvignon blanc. This was light, nice and I liked it. The Newton Johnson Family Vineyards Pinot Noir (R220) had nice flavour, was light, and had a nice aftertaste. I also liked this wine. The Newton Johnson Pinot Noir 2010 (R185) had nice earthy flavour to it, had a slightly dry aftertaste. This one had more character to it than the previous Pinot Noir. The Newton Johnson Full Stop Rock 2008 (R100) was 94% Syrah, 3% Mouvedre, and 3% Grenache. This had lots of plum and berry tastes to it, then a licorice aftertaste, I loved it!! We ended up buying a bottle of this one as it really stood out as a unique and fantastic wine.

After our tasting, we sat out on the decking and enjoyed a nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. The view from the decking is lovely. Its really relaxing here. The service was also very good.

While sitting there I had a look at the menu, the food does sound nice, and I liked the look of the breakfast menu!!! We were all pretty keen to go back here again for a meal.

I definitely recommend visiting this winery when out this way.

On the 21st of January, we visited this winery again as my friend wanted to show it to her friends who hadn't been there before. We didn't get the same service this time round. We were the only ones there at first, so we received our first tasting. Three people then arrived and after that we were almost ignored. So it will depend on who is serving you as to what experience you get at this winery. Due to the fact we were not being served (unless we waived our hand for attention) we left after trying three. Bit disappointing considering how great our first experience was. I still recommend visiting this place though.

Bouchard Finlayson

We unfortunately had a bad experience here, so I do apologise if this review is a bit negative. I will endeavour to go back to this winery again, to see if it was just bad timing, bad service or a bad year for their wine....

The winery itself is very nice. The drive up is nice, the bulding is nice, the garden is nice.

When we walked in, it took a few minutes to be greeted, we were asked how many were in our group and we said 6. She then informed us that if there are 6 or more people you must pay R40 per person for a tasting and you can only try wines 1 - 7 from the list. We then asked if we could sit in two groups of three (as a joke) so we didn't have to pay, but it was not taken so well.

I had read in the 2010 platters guide that the tasting would be R20 per person for groups of 6 or more, which I thought was pretty reasonable. But R40 I thought was a bit steep and I thought it was weird that you can't try all the wines, even though you are now paying!!

One of the people in our group decided not to taste the wines, so we sat down as a group of 5 and no longer had to pay, AND, we could try all the wines available for tasting, which was wines 1 - 9 on the list.

Then, it seemed that the lady who greeted us was not impressed with our group, it appeared that we were not worthy of her time and expertise in wine, and therefore we were served by another lady who didn't know anything about the wine, and only after the 4th wine actually decided to tell us something, and she had to use tasting notes to do so. But on the first 4 wines, she didn't tell us what we were tasting, what year it was, nothing!! She literally just poured the wine.

What made things worse, is that out of all five of us, we didn't enjoy any of the wines. A lot of them had a sour taste to them, and just didn't appeal to our palate. Having said that, the Blanc de Mer 2011 (R75) was ok, it was light and zesty.  Here are the notes I made about the other wines: The Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (R84) was sharp, sour, and fruity. The Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2010 (R114) was smooth and zesty. The Chardonnay Sans Barrique 2010 (R108) was in my opinion not balanced and was sharp and sour. The Chardonnay Crocodiles Lair Limited Edition 2010 (R151) was 50% wooded. (I guess this is when we finally got told information on the wine). This wine was smooth, smelled nice, and tasted of apricots. The Chardonnay Crocodiles Lair 2010 (R114) had a nice smell, was smooth, yet had a sour/zesty taste. The Chardonnay Missionvale 2010 (R142) was light, sour and zesty. The Hannibal 2008 (R184) was a blend of Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, and Nebbiolo. This wine was ok/nice. Last of all the Pinot Noir Galpin Peak 2010 (R245) was nice but had a sour aftertaste.

As you can see, the wine is rather pricey. Dispite the high prices and poor service, there was just nothing that appealed to any of us, and therefore none of us bought a bottle of the wine.

When we left, I thought, I wonder if the girl who originally served us thought, yeah, see, they didn't buy wine anyway, complete waste of time and money.

So that was our experience, it was disappointing. None of us had heard of this winery before, and as it was one of 5 wineries we still had on our list to visit along this road, we were all looking forward to our visit.

If you are a group of 6 or more and you also don't want to pay R40 per person, I suggest walking in in groups of 5 or less and pretending you don't know each other. I do think you get better service if you do the tasting standing at the bar, as the lady who was serving there, really seemed to know her wine. I overheard her talking and she sounded passionate about the wine and knowledgable.

In the tasting room there is a cellar room you can have a look around, which is very nice.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Christmas Blind Wine Tasting Event - MCC & Dessert wine - 12th December

On Monday the 12th of December, I held my fifth blind wine tasting event at Trinity in Cape Town. This month 52 people attended, which is the highest attendance I have had so far.

At this months event, we tried 7 MCC's and 8 Dessert Wines. The MCC was from Van Loveren, Morena, Buitenverwachting, Muratie, Laborie, Deetlefs and De Grendel. The Dessert Wine was from Van Loveren, Fleur du Cap, Boekenhoutskloof, Daschbosch, Asara, Altydgedacht, Buitenverwachting, and Deetlefs. As you can see, it was an awesome line up!!

The most popular MCC on the night was Laborie, followed closely by Van Loveren and De Grendel. The most popular Dessert wine was Buitenverwachting, followed very closely by Deetlefs.

The event was a fun, interactive and Christmas themed night. Some people dressed up really well for this event.

Everyone enjoyed the Steal the Christmas present game, all walking home with a present each.

This month, Ferdi from Deetlefs was kind enough to join my wine event and explain to everyone how MCC and dessert wine is made. It was great being able to understand how much work and effort is put in to the process, allowing everyone to appreciate what they were drinking even more :-)

My next blind wine tasting event will be held in February. We will be trying a white varietal, however, I haven't decided which one it will be yet. Be sure to go to my facebook page 'western cape wineries' and go 'like' my page. Alternatively, email me on westerncapewineries@gmail.com and ask that you be added to my database so that you will be notified of future wine tasting events.

Thank you to all the wineries and wine club members who have supported my blind wine tasting events this year, I look forward to holding many more next year.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Kind regards,