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, 23 March 2013

Bramon Wine Estate

Today we were driving to Knysna and saw a sign saying something about a wine estate. We then looked online and saw there is a wine estate in Plettenberg known for their Sauvignon Blanc MCC. After lunch in Knysna, we decided to go check it out.

The place is just on the side of the road. There is a restaurant as well but sadly that was closed for a private function so we didn't get to see what that looked like.

The lady at the tasting room was friendly. She informed us that it is R10 per tasting of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc MCC. The Vukani wines which I read online are BEE wines are R5 per tasting. As I never want to miss out on trying a wine, I tried all four available for tasting.

We started with the award winning Sauvignon Blanc MCC 2008. This received 4 stars with Platters and sells for R130 a bottle. It is a dry MCC with lovely fruity flavours, it is succulent and has a lovely finish.

The Crags Sauvignon Blanc 2012 is R85 a bottle, also received 4 stars with Platters. This Sauvignon Blanc was smooth, had peach, pear and apple tones. It was very nice.

The Chenin Blanc 2011 at R50 a bottle smelt wooded/oaked, slight honey taste on the palate, was rounded and lovely.

The Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 is R65 a bottle with soft tannins, dark chocolate, tobacco and slight spicy taste. It was ok.

The experience was nice, but the lady serving us sadly was not so informative about the wine. Quite surprising seeing as she has been working there for three years...

If you buy a bottle or more of wine the tasting fee is waived.

The wine tasting room is very nicely decorated and feels vibrant and warm.

Overall, it is worth the visit if you are out this way. I have looked at reviews and apparently the tapas at the restaurant are lovely. Perhaps when you plan a trip this way, you should book a table at the restaurant and enjoy a wine tasting while there.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Esona Wine Estate

Today we went to Esona Wine Estate to see what this new wine estate has to offer. We were greeted by Melissa at the door and taken in to the shed where they are currently doing wine tastings, as the wine tasting centre and restaurant-to-be is still under construction. As you can see in the photo below, you can enjoy the wine tasting outside also.

We were taken through a vertical tasting of the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Shiraz. They serve their wine in Riedel glasses; each wine glass is chosen specifically for the different wine varietal they serve.

A few facts on this estate:
  • All their wine is from Single Vineyard Blocks. 
  • Esona means 'The Very One'. 
  • This wine estate only makes 2500 bottles of each varietal.
  • Each block has a uniquely different soil type (see photo below)

We started the tasting with the Sauvignon Blanc 2012 at R68 a bottle. I got pear, pineapple and apple on the nose. It was also light and fruity on the nose. It had a very sharp taste with a lot of lime, lemon and minerality.

The 2011 Sauvignon Blanc (R63 a bottle) was lighter on the nose compared to the 2012, I didn't get as many prominent smells with this one. The sharp lemon/lime taste was lighter and more gentle on the palate also.

The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (R58 a bottle) seemed slightly sweeter on the nose, perhaps leaning towards honey... It was still sharp with lemon and lime tastes but it was more rounded off. It had a nicer finish to it also. I got a bit of apple on the palate with this one and I liked the finish.

Out of the Sauvignon Blancs the 2010 was my favourite, then the 2012 and then the 2011.

We then moved on to the Chardonnay which we tasted in a different style of Riedel glass. It was a lot bigger in volume (compared to the Sauvignon Blanc glass) and had a wide rim. The 2012 Chardonnay (R68 a bottle) spent 9 months in 3rd fill barrels, it was rounded, had notes of peach and had a lovely finish. It was not so buttery or creamy but it did have nice subtle oak influences.

The 2011 Chardonnay (R72 a bottle) has a slight sharp, fresh, acidic taste to it. It was lovely on the nose and yellow in colour compared to the 2012. It had a more buttery nose in comparison to the 2012. To be honest I didn't really like the taste as it seemed a little tart.

We then moved on to a very tall and big volume glass for the Shiraz. This did nothing for the 2011 Shiraz (R88 a bottle) as I couldn't smell any of the berry flavours, all I got was alcohol. After shifting my wine into a different glass I could appreciate the berry and dark chocolate influences you get on the nose. It was smooth and had an interesting flavour.

We were very lucky to try the 2010 Shiraz (R83 a bottle) as this is not usually open for tasting due to being sold out. This one was absolutely fine in the tall Riedel glasses. It had a lovely smell, bit of dark chocolate, slightly spicy, and lovely berry flavours. It was very lovely!!

After our wine tasting we were taken to the tasting room and restaurant-to-be construction site for a look around of what we can expect to see finished next time we visit.

Melissa showed us the cellar of the tasting room which is under ground and made from old concrete wine tanks. They have had someone observe these tanks and it is believed they are more than 80 years old.

They have broken through the walls of the concrete tanks to create bigger rooms where they will allow guests to walk through when visiting the tasting room. It is really interesting to see what an old concrete wine tank looks like and hear the stories that come with these tanks.

On the first floor/ground floor of the building is where the wine tasting room will be. They have a lovely big window which allows you to enjoy the gorgeous views while trying the Esona wine.

Upstairs is where the restaurant/deli will be. There is going to be a decking upstairs where guests can enjoy the views from outside the building.

They have a downstairs patio where guests will also be able to enjoy a wine tasting while soaking up the views and lovely weather.

Overall it looks fantastic and I cannot wait to see the final result. I highly recommend visiting this wine estate before the building is finished as it is awesome to hear the stories that go with the place and to see this place develop into what is going to be a very nice winery to visit!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Diemersdal Wine Estate and Restaurant

In the past two years that I have been living in SA I have become a big fan of Diemersdal Wine Estate. I have always liked the wine and the service at the tasting room!! Piere-Benn is the tasting room manager, he is very friendly and welcoming and will always be happy to give you an informative tasting on the wines.

Diemersdal Estate now has a restaurant which we checked out a week ago with friends and it is just what I would expect from this estate.

The service was good, everyone was very friendly, and the ambience was lovely. We chose to go on a Friday night so we could enjoy the tapas menu. They do offer steak and chips on a Friday as an alternative which one of our friends went for and thoroughly enjoyed. It is R120 and you get a three course meal starting with salad, then the steak and chips, finishing with a dessert. It is very good value for money!!

The tapas were lovely and the portions were ideal!! The price is very reasonable at only R100 per person.

The menu on the night we went was:
Smoked Hake Fritters
Braised Brisket
Onion Risotto
Warm Duck and Beetroot Salad
Pea Veloute
Cheese & Olive Tapenade
Caramelised Apple Pana Cotta

You can ask for double portions if you can't or don't want some of the dishes. My friend is allergic to seafood and they had no problem at all to then give her double portions of the dishes without seafood in them. If you want more on your platter you can pay R20 extra per tapa.

I have to admit my favourite tapa was the Pea Veloute, which I would not have expected. When I saw it on the menu I thought it didn't sound so great. But it was truly devine!!!

Amongst the group we all agreed that the onion risotto and the olive tapenade which had anchovies in it were not the favourites as the flavours were a little too strong, but all the rest were lovely. Apparently they change the menu each week, so it will be nice to go back and try other tapas they make.

I love the fact that they sell the Diemersdal wine at cellar door price at the restaurant!! We enjoyed two bottles of the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc (R52 a bottle) which by the way is delicious!!! I thought the 2013 would be a bit too young to enjoy, especially as I love the older Sauvignon Blancs, but it was awesome!!! And so reasonably priced too!!! We finished the evening off with a bottle of the Grenache 2011 (R95 a bottle), another favourite of ours and our friends all enjoyed it!! It is such a pleasant, easy drinking, light, fruity, red wine. Very nice served chilled!!

This restaurant has a lovely vibe, it is comfortable, warm, and relaxing. I highly recommend you book a table for lunch or dinner at this restauarnt as they are often fully booked. Please note it isn't open every day and they offer different food/menus each day. I heard on Sundays that they have a set menu where they serve the food in the middle of the table for everyone to help themselves. I can't wait to go back for this!!!!

On a lovely day you can sit outside, but if the weather is not great don't let this put you off visiting this very warm and friendly restaurant as the experience inside is just as nice!!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Spice Route

We went to Spice Route at the Ommiberg Festival. We did a chocolate and wine pairing outside.

Spice Route is very commercial but we all had a great time here. They have a really nice outdoor area, they have a pizzeria, a restaurant, a brewery and more.

If you go to Paarl for the Ommiberg Festival then I highly recommend this place. I do think it will be better if they have a live band though. Would truly add to the experience.

In my notes, I wrote down that I liked the Sauvignon Blanc 2012 and Viognier 2012.

After our tasting we sat on the lawn and enjoyed some pizza. The pizza is really good here. I highly recommend it.

On another occassion I went with two others to the restaurant at Spice Route for lunch and it was a really good experience that we had. We chose the winter two course special. I loved how they brought Gluhwein and a complimentary starter when we sat down, the starter was lovely and the gluhwein was the best I have tried!! The menu is really good so it made it hard to choose, but we all decided to go with the two course. We all thoroughly enjoyed our lunch. That day was really cold and it hailed that day, so it was a shame that the restaurant was not so warm, it would be awesome if they had a fireplace. The temperature would be the only thing I could fault. I recommend eating at this restaurant!! Check out the food we ate:

Windmeul - Ommiberg Festival

I am a big fan of the Ommiberg Festival. It is a lot of fun, pretty chilled and relaxed and is not a mad house festival where there are too many people and everyone gets really drunk and falls all over the place.

This is my second time attending this festival and each time we went to Windmeul as our first stop. They definitely have the best set up/package for this festival and the best vibe!! They have a live band, wine tastings from the tanks and wine tastings at the tasting room, plenty of different food options and a nice outdoor area to enjoy the whole experience.

While at Windmeul we tried some of their wine.  I liked the Windmeul Reserve Chenin Blanc 2011 at R42 a bottle, the Windmeul Shiraz 2010 at R41 a bottle, and the Windmeul Kelder Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 at R41 a bottle.

I recommend visiting this estate, especially for Ommiberg!!!

Saturday, 2 March 2013


Today we went to L'Avenir for a picnic. I had a wine tasting while waiting for our friends to arrive. You can try 6 wines for R20.

The service here is friendly and the place is nice. I didn't get a very informative tasting here, but it was fine. They were quite busy especially with all the people coming in for picnics, so that would have had an affect on the service.

I tried the SB 2012 (R45 a bottle), Rose de Pinotage 2012 (R45 a bottle), MCC Brut Rose 2010 (R100 a bottle), Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (R85 a bottle), Grand Vin Chenin Blanc 2011 (R120 a bottle) and the Grand Vin Pinotage 2009 (R250 a bottle).

I have to say the MCC is fantastic and at the moment they have a fantastic special: Buy 4 for R400 and get two free. It is for a limited time, so I highly recommend you order some while they are on special.

Other than the MCC nothing else really stood out. Having said that, the Grand Vin Pinotage 2009 was soft, fruity, smooth and very nice. But I am not ready to spend R250 a bottle on it.

The picnic was ok. There were two breadrolls of a good size with a very nice filling, fruit juice, a bottle of MCC per couple, muesli bars, candy, salted peanuts and raisins. It would have been nice to see some cheese and crackers in there and perhaps something sweet like a cupcake. Majority of the food was packeted stuff. Bit of a shame.

The grounds are lovely, there is plenty of lawn for chldren to run around and there is plenty of shade for those having picnics on the lawn.

The lodge on the estate looks really nice!! They have a lovely swimming pool and the place looks so relaxing!! My friend and I are very keen to look in to staying there for a night for a treat.

Overall, it is a nice place. Very relaxed and the wine is ok.