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.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Mt Vernon

Pleasant wine estate with friendly service and lovely wine....

On my way home from Paarl I decided to visit one other wine estate. As I couldn't decide which one I wanted to visit, I decided I would drive until one jumped out at me. Mt Vernon it was!!

As I arrived a man came in to the tasting room from outside and took me through a wine tasting. As we went through the tasting I realised he was the winemaker, awesome! Nothing better than a tasting with the winemaker himself.

This cute little dog was present for most of my visit. He is absolutely adorable!!!

We started off with the Unbelievable Dry White 2012 at R23.50 a bottle. This is from their entry level range. It was easy drinking and light.

The Jean Pierre Rose 2011 at R36 a bottle. It is mostly made from Merlot with some Shiraz and Pinotage. It was easy drinking, light, off dry and had tones of strawberry.

Three Peaks Sauvignon Blanc 2012 at R44 a bottle. It was lovely on the nose with tones of apple and pear. It was light, rounded, soft and not acidic. It was a pleasant wine.

Mount Vernon Chardonnay 2010 at R100 a bottle. It spent 8 months in barrels. It was a beautiful yellow colour, with a soft fruity aroma, light, lovely texture, pleasant on the palate. Easy drinking. Oak influence was minimal; no butter or butterscotch tones. There were hints of lemon though. This Chardonnay comes from only 3 hectares of vines.

Three Peaks Cantata 2010 at R53 a bottle is 15 % alcohol, which is quite high. It is a blend of Shiraz, Pinotage, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. It was soft, smooth, a heavier, more serious red. I think it's best to decanter or serve with food.

Three Peaks Pinotage 2011 at only R42 a bottle. I loved this wine!!! It was beautiful on the nose, smooth, elegant and beautifully balanced. I could not get over how low the price was for this wine. I highly recommend this wine, especially at this price!!

Mount Vernon Malbec 2010 at R165 a bottle with 15% alcohol. The legs are stunning, flavour was intense, yet soft, I loved it!! It was amazingly creamy, soft, fruity and a little spicy. I love this wine!! It goes well with the olives they sell on the estate. Be sure to try their olives!! I am not a fan of olives, but their olives are very nice!! I think this wine would go nicely with heavy/fatty/rich food also.

Mount Vernon Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 at R150 a bottle has a eucalyptus smell and taste which is quite unique. It has an intense smell, unique taste, is smooth, rounded, and creamy.

Last but not least I tried the Flamenco Sangria 2012 at R30 a bottle. The Sangria was very pleasant, I loved the fruit flavours which were so prominant. You could taste the citrus flavours. It was light, easy drinking, nice and refreshing.

The winemaker is Philip Du Toit and he has been the winemaker there since 1997!!! He is a very pleasant, friendly, and hospitable guy. I enjoyed doing the wine tasting with him, especially as he was able to share stories which only a winemaker would know. It was cool.

I recommend visiting this estate. The olives, Pinotage, Malbec and service were the highlights for me!!


Pleasantly surprised with the wine, views and service!! I highly recommend visiting this estate.

Today I spent all morning at SARS in Paarl so I decided to reward myself with a visit to a wine estate while out that way. After a tweet to my followers asking which wine estate I should visit, Vondeling suggested I visit them, so I did.

As soon as I arrived I was so grateful for the suggestion and for making the trip out there. At this time of year all the vines are changing colour, so there are beautiful reds, orange and yellow coloured leaves.

They have such a lovely location near the mountains and surrounded by hills, grass, trees; it's so tranquil and beautiful.

As I got out of my car and was soaking up the views, I noticed a church being built on the estate. Once this church is complete, brides-to-be can enjoy their wedding ceremony and reception at this wine estate. With the church, views, lovely tasting room for a venue and the stunning outdoor area this is an ideal place to have a wedding!!!

After the initial surprise on how lovely the views were, I moved into the tasting room. On arriving at the tasting room Mariaan greeted me and welcomed me to the estate. She told me about the history of the place, how long she has worked on the farm, the name of the region, the fynbos on the nearby mountain, and showed me the lovely views from the tasting room patio.

We sat down for a full wine tasting which included 9 wines. My notes are as follows (please keep in mind these are my opinions and for my records more than anything):

Vondeling Petit Blanc R42.50 a bottle is a blend of 70% Chenin Blanc, 20% Viognier and 10% unwooded Chardonnay. This wine had beautiful sweet tones on the nose and on the palate. I could smell the viognier on the nose; that I associate with the smell of peaches. On the nose I also smelt sweet melon (orange/peach flesh melon). The wine was smooth, soft, approachable. Tones of pear, apple and melon. Refreshing finish with hints of green melon, lime, lemon zest. Very nice. I liked this wine. It is very good value for money.

Vondeling Sauvignon Blanc R55 a bottle. This wine was soft, not too acidic, floral, fruity, and had slight vanilla tones on the nose. It was rounded and creamy. Lovely on the nose, the nose opens up with time, and the fruity flavours are rather prominant. Tones of apple, pineapple and banana on the palate. It had a granny smith apple lingering finish. I liked this wine.

Vondeling Chardonnay R82 a bottle. Smells like a Chardonnay but not too wooded. Only used 2nd and 3rd fill barrels and the barrels are 500 litres. It was creamy, soft and elegant. Gorgeous on the nose; that of butterscotch, honey, citrus, and intense aromas.

Vondeling Babiana R105 a bottle. Named after the Babiana Noctiflora flower from the mountain near the wine estate. There was lavender and honey on the nose. A bit of jasmine, ginger, and coconut also. On the palate I could taste tones of honey and pear. It had medium body with lovely texture. The wine varietals all spent 7 months in 2nd and 3rd fill barrels and after blending spent another 4 months in barrels. Mariaan informed me that this wine is very nice if you decanter it and it is best not to serve it too cold.

Vondeling Petit Rouge R45 a bottle. This wine is a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was very fruity, had lots of dark berry flavours with hints of dark chocolate and dark cherries. Cherry on the nose. This wine was a little dry.

Vondeling Baldrick Shiraz R60 a bottle. 86% Shiraz, 10% Mouvedre and 4% Viognier. It was light, slightly spicy. Dark berry, exotic spices, bit of white pepper, fruity flavoured. Smooth, round mouth feel, delicious!! Lovely finish. Not dry. Like!!

Vondeling Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2007 R90 a bottle. This wine is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. It was soft, smooth, had a fruity/berry nose. It was a soft smell on the nose with hints of toffee. Beautiuflly balanced. Ready to drink now. Slightly brickish in colour. Cherry, fruity, juicy on palate. Like.

Vondeling Erica Shiraz R120 a bottle. Mostly Shiraz but also has small portions of Carignan, Grenache Rouge and Mouvedre. This wine was named after the flower Erica Hippurus. It had an intense spicy nose. Smells heavy and serious. A bit of coffee, chocolate and caramel on the nose. Ideally you want to decanter this wine. It is a little dry. On the palate it is full of fruity, spicy flavours. Delicious!! Med-full bodied wine. I like this wine.

Last but not least we tried the Vondeling Sweet Carolyn at R145 a bottle. With this wine you get citrus, peach, honey, apricot, and tangy acidity. I also got some marmalade on the palate. This wine was not syrupy at all. I was informed that this wine goes well with cheese, pate and is best served ice cold. It is light on the palate. It is a natural sweet wine, thanks to the methods the winemaker Matthew Copeland used. Be sure to ask the winemaking process of this wine, it is very interesting!! It includes crimping, grapes looking like raisins, the grapes were put on beds of straw, left for ten days and then basket pressed. Alcohol level is only 9.5%. I loved this dessert wine!!

As you can see they have a nice range of wine to try. If you decide to visit this estate with a group of 6 or more people, be sure to contact them in advance and ask for a picnic to be put together for your group. Alternatively, if the weather is not so great and you give them two days notice, they can put some lovely winter dishes together for you and your friends to enjoy. They do traditional SA food for both the picnic and winter dishes.

They do cater for weddings here also. I have to say it's a stunning venue. They bring in caterers to do the food. They can accommodate around 80 people with a dance floor and 100 people without a dance floor.

I highly recommend visiting this wine estate, it really is a lovely place with lovely wine and service!!

Saturday, 27 April 2013


This was the last wine estate I visited today on Annandale Rd. It has lovely views, lovely wine and is a nice place.

I visited this place for a tasting because I had recently been here for a wedding. It was amazing how different it looked when a wedding was taking place here. It really is a nice place to have a wedding. Great views, service, nice wine, good food.

I was welcomed by a very nice lady called Kaley. She was very polite, friendly and engaged in polite conversation.

I sat outside for the tasting so I could enjoy the fantastic weather and lovely views. From the tasting room I could see a family enjoy fishing at the pond with a picnic. What a way to spend the day. The weather was perfect for it.

The tasting started off with the Brut MCC 2008 at R130 a bottle. This was very nice!! It is 55% Chardonnay, 39% Pinot Noir and 6% Pinot Meunier. It spent +- 36 months on the lees. It was very easy drinking; not dry and not sweet. Just perfect!! It had a lovely finish. It was refreshing. I really liked it!!

Next I tried the Brut Rose 2008 at R130 a bottle. This was nice also, but I actually prefered the Brut. Interesting, because at the wedding I prefered the Rose MCC. The Rose is 63% Pinotage, 29% Pinot Noir and 8% Pinot Meunier. It spent +-12 months on the lees. This MCC seemed dryer than the Brut on the first sip, but after that it was also pleasant to drink.

The Sauvignon Blanc 2012 at R95 really impressed me!! It has an awesome nose on it, just gorgeous!! Plenty of tropical fruity smells, lots of passionfruit. It was smooth, soft and light on the palate. Not too acidic, it had lovely citrus and tropical fruity flavours on the palate. It had a lingering finish with some mierality. Just lovely! To be honest, I struggle to spend this much on a Sauvignon Blanc, but I will not forget how much I enjoyed this wine!! It is one of the best Sauvignon Blancs I have tried in South Africa!!

I finished the wine tasting with the Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 at R120 a bottle. The colour was more a brick coloured red. To be honest, I didn't really like this wine. Slight caramel tones. Nice nose. It lacks something though. It had a slightly dry aftertaste. It was ok.

A tasting here costs R15 per wine you try. I think this is a bit steep. Having said that, if money is not an issue, I would highly recommend visiting Webersburg for a tasting of the their MCC and Sauvignon Blanc. Not only that, but the setting is just beautiful. They have lovely grounds, beautiful old Dutch style buildings and a lovely pond. I do recommend one visits this estate. Be sure to bring a picnic to enjoy after your wine tasting. Or better still, buy some wine from the tasting room to enjoy with your picnic beside the pond or under the trees on the lawn.


I finally made it to Alto and I am so glad I visited the place.

We have been meaning to visit Alto for a long time now and we just never got there. If you also have passed Alto many times and not popped in then I highly recommend you drive in next time!!

I was the only person at Alto, but again, I think this is because it was the Cheese Festival that day so not many people were out visiting wineries.

The views are lovely from this estate. They have an indoor and outdoor seating area for tasting wine. I love the decor at this estate. I felt so relaxed by the choice of furniture they had used. It felt like I was visiting a secluded place. The views were lovely!

I decided to do the tasting inside so I could talk easily to the staff member and where I sat I could also enjoy the views and be out of the wind.

I decided to do the full wine tasting including a tasting of the port which was R20. A wine tasting is R10, a tasting of the port is R10 and it turns out they have a pate and wine tasting for R50 also. Had I known this, I would have chosen the last tasting as I just love pate!!!

The tasting started with the Alto Rouge 2010 at R60 a bottle. It is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. I found it a bit rough around the edges. Perhaps it is a bit young to be drinking now? It was nice on the nose.

The Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 at R140 a bottle has an awesome bouquet!! It had hints of fruit and chocolate on the nose. It was light on the palate. Had fruity, robust flavours. It had a lingering aftertaste and was smooth. I liked it very much.

The Alto Shiraz 2010 at R140 a bottle was intense on the nose, in a very positive way!!! It was full of different aromas, which included spicy fruity smells; a bit like xmas cake. The flavour was delicious with fruity and spicy tones. I liked this wine the most out of all the wine. I recommend trying this wine!!

The Altus MPHS 2007 is not for tasting. The MPHS is the first letter of each winemaker who has worked at Alto. It is apparently a collectors item.

Last but not least I tried the Alto Fine Old Vintage 2006. It is 100% Shiraz but brandy was added to increase the alcohol content (well that is what the tasting room assistant told me). The alcohol volume is 18% for this port. It was creamy, had caramel, prunes and raisin taste. It was yum. I wouldn't pay R240 a bottle for it though. If someone bought it for me I would enjoy it immensely.

The tasting room assistant informed me that around 60% of their wine is exported. They have around 192 hectares of land and 100 hectares are used for vines. The farm was establised in 1693 and the vines were only planted in the 1990's.

I was impressed with the wine at Alto. The views, experience, wine and decor were all lovely. I would recommend one visits this estate if out this way.

Rust en Vrede - second visit

Today I was in the area so I decided to visit Rust en Vrede for a second time. It was a while back when I first visited the place, so thought it was time to check it out again. Especially after having visited plenty of other wineries since last visiting this wine estate.

The place was not so busy. I think the Cheese Festival had an impact on this. The service here was very pleasant. The staff were friendly, informative and pleasant. Unfortunately not all the wine was available for tasting so I tasted what was available which was a total of four wines.

The tasting started with the Shiraz 2011 at R220 a bottle. It had lovely berry and spicy notes on the nose, it was soft, smooth, but a little dry on the finish. I liked this wine.

Next was the Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 at R220 a bottle. It initially smelled like chocolate and caramel - yum!! On the 2nd whiff I got berry smells and a bit of cherry. This wine also had a dry finish to it. It was a light and soft wine. Pleasant. I liked it.

The Estate 2010 at R390 was next on the list. This is a blend of 10% Merlot, 30% Shiraz and 60% Cabernet Sauvignon. This was a soft wine, nicely balanced. It had berry on the nose and was lighter than the other two wines. This wine was pleasant and easy drinking. It was nice.

The Single Vineyard Syrah 2010 is sold out at R850 a bottle. The 2011 will be released in December. They only make 1200 bottles of this wine. I have had the pleasure of enjoying a bottle of the 2009 Syrah last year in April with friends in the Karoo; we decantered it, drank it beside a fireplace, and it was stunning!! I fell in love with that wine!!! It was actually this wine which made me decide to visit the estate again. I wanted to see if the wine was as good as I remember it to be. I would love to try this wine again. I will visit the estate again just to try this wine!!

The last wine I tried was the 1694 Classification 2008 at R1200 a bottle. It is 60% Syrah, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. It initially had a sharp alcohol finish to it. However, on the second sip I enjoyed the lovely flavours it had to offer and I loved how smooth it was. They only make 3600 bottles of this wine.

I was later told that the Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon will be released in July 2013.

Overall the wines were nice. Sadly, nothing wowed me. Which considering the price and the name of the place, I was expecting more. The service was pleasant. Ambience was ok.

I have to say, the music sounded like I was in a carnival and not in a happy way. I understand why they chose that music as they want to portray a classical, historical place. But it didn't do much for me tasting wine by myself. I am sure if you visit this place with friends you wouldn't be quiet enough to hear the music.

A tasting here is R30 for 3 wines and R40 for 4 wines (which includes the 1694 wine).

Would I recommend people visit this place? Well honestly, if you only have a day to visit wine estates, no. I think this place is over-rated. Yes it has nice views, good service and nice wine. But I wasn't wowed by anything. Perhaps if you plan to visit this estate in December 2013 or later, then you will at least get to try the amazing Syrah. Then it might just change the whole experience.

I should also mention they have a lovely outdoor seating area. It also enhances the experience here.