Fall in the Wine Lands

From Cape Town city it is a 30 – 40min drive to the little university town of Stellenbosch, nestled at the foot of the Simonsberg.  These harsh grey mountains provided the first barrier to the pioneers trekking inland all those centuries ago.  As they persevered they discovered little protected valleys and slopes perfect for the growing of fruit and vines.  Many settled and today there are still some vineyards and farms that remain in family hands from the late 1600’s.  It is an outstanding wine growing region with some distinctive vintages and flavors completely South African. 
While in the Winelands we chose the River Manor Lodge in the heart of Stellenbosch and stayed in large comfortable bedrooms with gorgeous old claw-tub bathrooms. It is a beautiful old historic house with much care and attention given to both the indoor and outdoor decor.  Of old affluent farmhouse style – inviting and very welcoming! 
But it is the gardens and the trees that I love!  Masses of white iceberg roses under-planted with delicate Santa Barbara daisies, lavender and rosemary, green lawns, old oaks and the heady smell of ripe guavas everywhere from gnarled old guava trees lining the terrace.  Love that smell!  It takes me back to our childhood and the unsprayed guavas that mum insisted on picking and stewing up for dad, complete with all the uninvited organic “guests”! 

Cape Wine and Leisure Tours picked us up the next morning and took us off on a Wine Tour after first discussing our specific taste in wine (our palate!) and what, if anything, we would specifically like to see or taste. 
They operate a highly personalized and outstanding service which I found to be both most informative and informal enough to be loads of fun.   We drove up the magnificent mountain pass high above the little village of Stellenbosch to make a start on our wine journey at a modern tasting room at a company owned vineyard, Tokara.  The wine tasting was complimented by stunning views over the vineyards through the large plate glass window. 
 Through the day we wound our way around the Stellenbosch area through dozens of wines both red and white, table and dessert, through five other vineyards both small and large, family and corporate owned – old to ancient complete with cobwebs – and all the time aware of the breath-taking mountains and the scenic beauty of this region laid out before you like a feast!  We ended up with a light lunch at Delheim, one of a select number of vineyards that have restaurants on their property a long with tasting rooms.   Biltong salad and home-made fresh squeezed lemonade for me!!
That evening, as darkness fell, we walked from River Manor into the main street of Stellenbosch and wandered around looking at several restaurants before settling on a little Bistro which offered what we felt like eating. We had delicious butternut soup with fresh baked bread and skipped the wine!  Over dinner we decided that the next day we would venture over that same fantastic mountain pass to the quaint village of Franschoek. 
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