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.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Elgin Ridge Winery

Today we visited this winery nice and early. Elgin is a beautiful valley with some fantastic wine. I believe the Sauvignon Blancs in this region will give NZ a run for their money in the coming years!!!

We were greeted by the winemaker (Brian) on arrival. The farm is very beautiful, the building is so nicely designed to suit its surroundings and the tasting room is open and nicely designed.

At first we went down to the cellar with a wine glass each, and started with the 2012 Block 2 Sauvignon Blanc from a steel tank. It was very nice. I loved the smell and taste. There was plenty of apple aroma and apple flavour on the palate. It was nicely balanced, crisp, fresh and had a lovely lingering aftertaste

The second wine we tried was the Block 4 2012 Sauvignon Blanc. This was completely diferent to the first one, and it had more of a pineapple taste to it.

We tried the PInot Noir from the barrels. It will be bottled in 2013. It had nice blackcurrent and plum tones, it was a little dry and was nice and light.

Brian explained that he has started making MCC with his Chardonnay. We tried his Chardonnay which is very nice, and I believe with a few years it will result in some very fine wine. I am super keen to try the upcoming MCC.

After trying wine from the tanks and barrels we went upstairs to try more wine. I loved sitting in the tasting room overlooking the vineyards. It was such a beautiful day, that it really added to the experience.

Before we left, we were taken to see where the ducks spend the day. We didn't see them at the house so we went to the dam and sure enough they were there. On our way back to the car we saw Marian, Brian's wife, and there were two calves following her. They were so young and playful. They were very cute.

So as you can see, this winery has a lot of charm and character. This winery is worth the visit.

If you have a day to spend in Elgin I recommend visiting the following wineries: Almenkerk, Highlands Road, Elgin Valley and then South Hill for lunch.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Barrydale Winery

There are three wineries in Barrydale, and only two are open on a Saturday; Joubert-Tradouw (10am - 2pm) and Barrydale (10am - 3pm). When we set off from Montagu, we decided we would visit Joubert-Tradouw first and then this winery second seeing as it is open the longest.

After seeing the list of wines, I asked how a tasting works at this winery. E.g. how much does it cost, and how many wines can we try. The response was, well are you here to drink wine to buy or just to try? This didn’t get me off on the right note. I replied that we will buy wine if we like it, but we are otherwise here to just to try the wine.

A tasting is R25 per person, but if you buy wine this fee is waived.

The next thing we were given a shared tasting; where my boyfriend and I shared from one glass. We tried the whites, and then I asked if I could try the reds. He hesitated, and then said he had to open the bottles for me to try them. So I only got to try the Pinot Noir and the Merlot. Both of these were ok. I wanted to try the Shiraz but with this not being open, we couldn’t try it. We tried all three brandies, and my favourite was the Barry & Nephews Muscat Cape Pot Still Brandy (R290).

I would have to say I wouldn’t drive out to Barrydale to visit this winery. I would also say, if you are in Barrydale and only have time to try one winery, don’t make this your choice. Joubert-Tradouw was a much better experience, with far nicer wine and a much more enjoyable tasting experience.

Perhaps others have better experiences than myself? Be sure to make a comment below if you do.

Joubert-Tradouw Winery

Today we drove to Barrydale from Montagu. It takes about 1 hour; the drive is nice and scenic.

We decided to start at Joubert-Tradouw as they are open Saturdays from 10am – 2pm. When we got there, it was closed, which was disappointing. As there is only one other winery in Barrydale open on a Saturday, which is Barrydale Winery (open from 10-3pm), we were disappointed to have driven all this way out here for just one winery.

Seeing as we now had plenty of time on our hands, we decided to have some lunch in town at The Country Pumpkin. While there, we mentioned to the owner that Joubert-Tradouw Winery was closed. He was very surprised and concerned, he said its very unusual that they were closed, so he made a call to the winemaker.

(I have to say the owner of The Country Pumpkin was very kind and hospitable. We really appreciated that he contacted the Joubert-Tradouw winemaker for us, and for helping us be able to enjoy a tasting at the winery. I highly recommend visiting his restaurant, they have a very nice menu with South African style food, the service is very good and the outdoor courtyard is lovely). 

We sat down for lunch, and after ordering our drinks, the winemaker of Joubert Tradouw greeted us at our table. He had been on his fruit farm, and had dropped what he was doing to take us to his winery, thanks to the owner from The Country Pumpkin making a call for us. The winemaker (Meyer) is a young guy, very friendly, polite and hospitable. We had a nice chat with him over a cup of coffee and then made our way to the winery.

It turns out he had closed the place today because it had been quiet recently. Murphy's Law isn't it?!

Only 10 minutes after we started the tasting, another group arrived, so it was nice to see others had also benefited from Meyer opening the tasting room and vice versa.

We started the tasting with the 2010 and 2011 barrel fermented Chardonnay (R120). It is amazing how different they are. My boyfriend and I both preferred the 2010. It was light, yet medium bodied, a little sour, and had stone fruit flavours, with a very nice lingering aftertaste.

The 2011 had an amazing initial fruit flavour bursting through with slight caramel tones, but I found the aftertaste not to be so great and I found it to be rather dry. 

The Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc, were all very nice. The latter is not bottled yet, we got to try this one from the tank. This was my favourite, but it is also very different from the other two reds. It had a gorgeous colour to it, was light, and delicious. I can't wait to buy this wine once it is available!!

This ended up being a really memorable wine tasting experience! I highly recommend visiting this winery if you are out this way, and perhaps call this winery in advance if you plan to visit on a Saturday in winter, just to make sure they are open.

They have a deli here, with a really lovely outdoor seating area. If you are heading out here at lunchtime I recommend coming here. I will definitely be visiting this winery again if out this way. I can see myself spending a lovely sunny afternoon sitting outside drinking wine and eating the platters of cheese and cold meats!!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Opstal Winery

This winery has a nice building with tasteful decor, lovely views from the restaurant and a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

The service was very pleasant. We were served by a polite lady who had a good amount of knowledge on the wines.

We tried all of the wine at this winery. Their wine ranges from R35 to R55 a bottle. It is definitely one thing I love about this wine region, the price of the wine!!!

Out of all the wines, The Mill Iron 2012 which is new, stuck out the most. It is a Viognier, Hanepoot and Colombar blend. It was beautifully blended, and so nicely balanced!! It was smooth and rounded, I liked it! This wine sells for R50 a bottle. My other favourite was the Hanepoot 2011 at R45 a bottle. This was sweet, nice, smooth, I liked it!

If you are interested in having your wedding at this winery, it costs R6000 for the wedding service outside in the garden and for the reception in the building. The building can seat 120 people in the restaurant, there is a bar in the next room, it's ideal.

This is a nice winery and I imagine on a sunny day it would be a lovely place to sit down and enjoy the view. I am definitely going to come back to enjoy a meal either inside or outside the restaurant overlooking that gorgeous view. You can check out their menu online: http://www.opstal.co.za/restaurant/menu/.

Slanghoek Winery

This was a nice winery. The tasting room is a good size, there were plenty of staff there to assist and there is a nice selection of wine to try.

They had a lovely blue cheese and biltong soup for the Soets and soup breedekloof festival. This festival was only R30 for a tasting glass, soup mug, soup and wine tastings at the participating wineries.

We were able to try all the wine on the list. There are 22 wines on the list!! My favourites were the Vinay Crispy White (R26), the Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (R39), the Noble Late Harvest 2007 (R95) and the Cape Ruby 2011 (R42).

We had a nice experince here. The wine was lovely and the staff were friendly. This was worth a visit I thought. 

Online I see they offer picnics at their winery:

Slanghoek Cellar, in conjunction with Jason’s Hill, now offer guests picnic baskets by request. Enjoy a delicious picnic basket for two, which includes a selection of fresh ciabatta bread, cheeses and cold meats as well as a complimentary bottle of *Slanghoek wine, while you relax on our patio and enjoy the tranquility of the valley. Please be certain to book your picnic basket in advance to ensure availability: 023 344 3026 or info@slanghoek.co.za for more information.

*Applicable to certain wines only/ wine can be substituted with grape juice.