In Search of Premium Wines, Marcus & Rachel in South Africa Days 1-4

Day 1 – We arrived in Cape Town at 10:00 after a long trip. Luckily we stopped in London on the way through to break up the trip and visit Marcus’s sisters who are both currently living there. The trip would have been 40 hours with the layovers otherwise. The 9-hour time difference from British Columbia to Cape Town is a difficult one to adjust to, especially when you are travelling with a 4 year old! The fact that it is a beautiful sunny day makes things more bearable.

We got our luggage off okay and went to rent our car. We lined up, filled out the required documentation and handed over our credit card to pay and it was declined, tried another card, which was also declined. I pulled out my phone to call and find out what was happening only to find that the credit card customer service wasn’t open…being the middle of the night in Canada. By this time we are stressing, sweating, sleep deprived and about to lose it. I kept calling #’s and finally got through to an actual person…only to find out that the card was put on “hold funds” because of suspected fraud. An hour and a half later we were loading our bags into the rental car and on our way to Stellenbosch!

40 minutes out of Cape Town is the magnificent wine region of Stellenbosch. We rolled up to our town house to find a gated community with tight security, 5 security guards at the gate and more patrolling the grounds 24 hours a day. This will take some time to get used to. Our rented accommodation is very nice and comfortable…. so we spent the rest of the day sleeping off the jet lag.

Day 2 – Slept in late and relaxed around the house…slept some more trying to catch up on sleep after a crazy sleepless 5 days since we left Canada.

Day 3 – Woke to another beautiful sunny day in Stellenbosch so we decided to do some exploring and get our bearings. We ended up at the Zoo nearby showing Jazzy some “African Animals”. We kept telling him about all the cool animals he would see in Africa…unfortunately he didn’t understand that it wouldn’t be until the end of the trip once all our work is done, when we take him on a safari. He kept asking in London “when are we going to see the lions mommy?” And again as soon as our plane landed in Africa, so we thought a trip to the zoo was a good idea.

After our fill of animals we decide to hit up our first winery, which was Lindhorst. We were led through the vineyard on an old cobblestone path, which ended at the cellar door. The view was breathtaking…clear skies displayed the brilliant mountains in the distance and acres of vineyards in the foreground. We sat outside and tasted their full range of wines, two whites and four reds. All were very solid wines and great prices too. We went home with our favorite two wines to sample with food. The cellar door worker was unsure if the wines were sold in Canada so he was going to get back to us.

Day 4 – Woke up just before 9:00 am, which is pretty good considering the day before was after 10:30 am. Headed out in the car for a full day of tasting. Our first stop was Remhoogte where we were greeted by four dogs, two of which were Ridgebacks. We have two ridgebacks at home so Jasper was very excited to play with them. Next, Elsa the cellar door manager who was incredibly friendly met us. She took us over to the winery to meet Chris, the winemaker and his cellar staff. We then went over to the tasting room to try their wines, we lucked out again because these wines were stellar! We tasted one white – 2008 Chenin Blanc and six reds. We were very lucky that they opened a 2002 & 2003 red for us to taste. Their reds are all blends made in typical French styles and they were all just fantastic. Best South African reds I have tried so far. Chris is going to get back to us about whether they are currently being sold in Canada…I hope not but we will still have lots more tasting to do!

Next stop was Solms Delta. When we pulled up we had to stop at the gate and were questioned by a guard before entrance. The winery is a spectacular old estate surrounded by vineyard and beautifully manicured green lawn. We sat outside to taste the wines overlooking the vineyard. Steven, the cellar door employee led us through their wines…the setting was idyllic and the wines were pretty good, our pick was the Africana 2006 Shiraz.

Last stop of the day was Boekenhoutskloof vineyards (luckily Marcus speaks Afrikaans). They were already selling wines into Canada and the wines available for tasting were just okay and tomorrow is another day so we will keep on tasting!

On the whole, the people have been extremely hospitable and friendly. Each tasting has taken at least an hour as they take the time to explain each wine and winery background extensively. They really have perfected giving the customer a fantastic wine tasting experience in this region and I am incredibly impressed so far. We have been fortunate to meet some very lovely people and I am excited to see and taste some more.