Returning home from a visit to the French wine region of Burgundy, Frans Malan (Simonsig Wines) and Niel Joubert (Spier) approached their friend Spatz Sperling (Delheim) to join them in creating a wine route through Stellenbosch.
Challenging the establishment and wading through red tape, the wine route finally launched in April 1971.
Welcome to the Stellenbosch Wine Route!
As more players became involved, the main Stellenbosch Wine Route of 150 estates, with over 60 restaurants, 50 accommodation sites and 70 cellar tours, has been categorised into 5 regional routes.
- Greater Simonsberg route – north off the N1 at Exit 47.
- Bottelary Hills route – west of Greater Simonsberg.
- Stellenbosch Berg route – south and east of Stellenbosch township.
- Helderberg route – south of Stellenbosch Berg route.
- Stellenbosch Valley route – west and south-west from Stellenbosch township.
With the breadth and depth of things to see, do and, of course, #drink in this 200 sq km area, Stellenbosch Wine Route’s website is your best friend.
Search for specific wine estates or check out an entire sub-route. Filters make it easy to find your preferences; accommodation, restaurants, open Sundays, kids activities and disabled access. A little forward planning ensures everyone has a blast.
In an effort to bring you an overview, the following 7 estates were selected randomly within each sub-route. These estates all offer something unique while promising excellent libations.
De Meye is our first cab off the rank. You’ll recognise the property by the field of Provence Lavender at the entrance. Organic lavender oil is produced in small quantities at De Meye. Sold on the farm and in selected outlets in Stellenbosch, De Meye lavender oil is concentrated and rich requiring only a few drops.
The same focused approach runs through the entire De Meye operation. Fifth generation owner and General Manager, Philip Myburgh likes to keep things simple. With good friend and De Meye Winemaker, Marcus Milner, the pair produce 6 single varietal wines and 1 blend.
The flagship Trutina blends all 4 red varietals from the farm; Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot and Shiraz. Chenin Blanc and a divine unwooded Chardonnay complete the estate’s wines.
Taste at De Meye, their farm-style restaurant focused on seasonal produce is open for lunch Friday, Saturday and Sunday. To cater accurately for their weekly changing, 3-course set menu, reservations are required.
De Meye is a relaxed environment where you can lunch with tastings on the lawn in summer and in front of the open fire in winter. You may even have a visit from the family dog.
It would be remiss not to mention the Stellenbosch Wine Route founders’ estates. Simonsig and Delheim are both here on the Greater Simonsberg route. On the Stellenbosch Valley Route, follow this link to an in-depth Spier Experience.
Simonsig‘s Frans Malan not only co-founded the Stellenbosch Wine Route, he also produced the first of South Africa’s MCC -Méthode Cap Classique, a bottle-fermented sparkling wine in the French champagne style.
Although Simonsig produces award-winning red and white wine, it is in our opinion, the MCC that make Simonsig a destination on this wine route.
Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rosé’s subtle hint of strawberry and floral notes is perfect for brunch. With a soft mouth-feel finishing dry on the palate, this rosé is best enjoyed when young.
Kaapse Vonkel Demi-Sec is for those who prefer a less dry finish. Spring blossoms and ripe fruit are balanced by natural acidity finishing with a delicate sweetness. Cellaring for 4 to 6 years will deepen the natural fruit flavour.
Peaches and berries come to the fore in the Kaapse Vonkel Brut. The fruit/ acid balance produces a finish rich in flavour and intensity.
The one to watch is the Cuvée Royale. Definitely the dryer of the range the citrus flavours are rounded off by a full mouthfeel. This one is worth investing in a few bottles. Cellar if you can and taste at intervals to experience the changes in flavour and complexity.
Cuvée, Simonsig’s restaurant follows the ethos of most of the Stellenbosch Wine Route’s restaurants with a locally sourced organic menu. Check opening times on their site to avoid disappointment.
The third member of the Stellenbosch Wine Route is Michael “Spatz” Sperling, a German immigrant and nephew to Delheim‘s (Deli’s Home) namesake Deli Hoheissen.
Deli’s husband, Otto, first planted vines at Delheim in 1938. “Spatz” (Spatz, a baby sparrow in German and Sperling, being sparrow) arrived in 1951 to help out on the farm. Still residing on the farm today, Spatz has handed the keys to son Victor and daughter Nora who serve as directors.
In the tasting line-up, expect things to be a little less traditional. Throw caution to the wind and front up for a Wine and Cupcake pairing.
Baked fresh daily, expect exotic pomegranate cupcakes beside Delheim Pinotage Rosé, a fruit driven pairing.
Cream cheese and honey iced Rooibos cupcakes are paired with the Delheim Chenin Blanc Wild Ferment.
Pumpkin & vanilla cupcakes infused with star anise, cinnamon and nutmeg, bring out the Delheim Pinotage’s spice.
Traditional African Makataan (wild melon) cupcakes, accompany the Delheim Gewürztraminer.
Somewhat out-of-the-box, but definitely worth the indulgence!
Mooiplaas Wine Estate & Nature Reserve encompasses 243 hectares of valley floor meadows to craggy hilltops. The uneven terrain proves a challenge for planting vineyards yet creates a unique ecosystem. Vineyards cover 100 hectares of the property on the valley floor, across hilltops and following steep slopes.
The Roos brothers, Teilman (viticulturist) and Lois (winemaker) have been working Mooiplaas since the 1980s.
Dedicated to eco-friendly, biodynamic, traditional wine-producing practices, the brothers have a natural approach from terroir to bottle. Using the best grapes from the best vines, wild yeast, natural fermentation, light filtration and maturation in small oak barrels they produce first-class wines.
Mooiplaas’ distinctive tasting room in a converted horse stable, the oldest building on the property – circa 1806, sets the tone for a jovial afternoon of wine and banter.
Without a restaurant Mooiplaas prepare picnic baskets filled with baguettes, pork pies, chutney, salad, cheese preserves and something sweet paired with 5 wine tastings. Tuck into this farm fresh goodness in the tasting room or anywhere on the property.
Mooiplaas Private Nature Reserve covers more than 50 hectares. Follow the 5.6 km hiking trail and take in the exceptional 360º views of Table Mountain, the Cape Peninsula, Stellenbosch, Paarl, Table Bay and False Bay.
Mooiplaas Private Nature Reserve is dedicated to the conservation of endangered fynbos species and sits at the core of the Cape Floral Kingdom.
While the Cape Floral Kingdom is the smallest of the 6 plant kingdoms in the world it is actually the richest with 9,600 plant species.
Quoting UNESCO (from Mooiplaas): “The Cape Floral Region represents less than 0.5% of the area of Africa, but is home to nearly 20% of the continent’s flora. Its plant species diversity, density and endemism are among the highest worldwide, and it has been identified as one of the world’s 18 biodiversity hot-spots”.
Visit between September and November while much of the area is in flower and book a hike with Teilman Roos. He’ll share insights into the diverse species of fynbos as well as the wines produced on Mooiplaas. To book a hike, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Blaauwklippen, another Stellenbosch wine estate founded in the 1600s, immerse yourself in a multitude of experiences.
The Sunday Family Market provides a perfect chance for the kids to play and adults to indulge in Blaauwklippen wines and international food stalls.
Along with art, craft, clothing and what-not, an antique fair joins the action once a month.
This is a pooch-friendly environment too. Every third Sunday a Vineyard Doggy Walk takes place with all proceeds going to the Helderberg Animal Welfare Society.
Cellar tours are a popular activity along with regular wine tasting and at Blaauwklippen, there’s a dedicated Spirit Tasting room. It’s here that Blaauwklippen pot-stilled brandies can be sipped before deciding on the 8, 10 or 12-year bottle to take home.
Blaauwklippen celebrated their 333rd year in 2015 and what better way than with Triple Three Gin. Cellarmaster, Managing Director and 333’s distiller, Rolf Zeitvogel combines native South African fynbos with spice route botanicals to produce delightfully distinctive gin.
The 333 tasting at Blaauwklippen includes their 100% Juniper, Citrus infused and South African Botanical gins. Sampled straight, with ice, then with a shot of tonic, these different gins’ flavour profiles evolve and transform with each simple addition.
In the words of English poet, critic and writer, Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784) – “Claret is the liquor for boys; port, for men; but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy”.
At Van Ryn’s Distillery, brandy is the hero. With his two sons, Jan van Ryn pioneered brandy in the Cape. Establishing their wine and brandy store in 1845 in Rondebosch, now a suburb of Cape Town, it wasn’t until 1905, with their father now deceased, the two brothers established Van Ryn’s Distillery in Stellenbosch.
Check this link for seasonal opening times to ensure you make it to a Distillery Tour. The tour includes a close-up of the distillation process, including a whiff of “Angels’ Share”, the 3% evaporation said to keep the brandy angels happy.
You’ll experience the art of “coopering”, the barrel making process still created by expert hands. The tour concludes in the resplendent tasting hall with your choice from 4 menus. There’s a non-alcoholic tasting for the designated driver.
The Cape Smoke Tasting begins with the 10-year-old, onto the 12-year-old and concludes with the 15-year-old. The Brandy & Chocolate Tasting pairs the 3 brandies with complementing Belgian Chocolates and the Decadent Delight Tasting swaps the chocolate for other fine confectionaries.
Vergenoegd Löw Wine Estate is likely the most adorable wine farm in the region. A flock of more than 800 Indian Runner Ducks are involved in their integrated natural pest management program.
Along with a range of delightful wine, be entertained at shift change when the ducks, joined by a few mad geese, march past the cellar door and restaurant during their busy schedule.
Sharing their habitat with indigenous water birds, Vergenoegd have implemented a research program into boosting the ducks’ immune systems to safeguard against natural diseases and viruses carried by the wild waterfowl. This unique co-habitation allows both species a natural lifestyle.
Enter Vergenoegd’s gabled farmhouse and warm yourself by the huge open fire before sitting down to a freshly prepared feast – “Taste @ Vergenoegd 3-course lunch”. For ZAR325 (at the time of publishing) begin by sharing a starter platter.
Expect the likes of smoked salmon tart with a garden salad, beetroot purée, creme fraiche and a bread platter.
For main-course, perhaps sugar cured beef fillet served with turnip, bacon and onion ragu or Mussels in saffron and fennel sauce.
And for dessert, maybe a sticky toffee pudding with coffee curd and flaked almonds? Finish off with a cheese selection of note with more of their wonderfully home-baked bread.
Combine this with great tasting wine, a warm open fire and duck entertainment and Vergenoegd Löw Wine Estate make it difficult to leave.
With 150 wine estates on the greater Stellenbosch Wine Route, this tour hasn’t touched the sides.
It is clear, however, that while each sub-route region differs from another and each wine farm within those sub-routes differ from their neighbours, the core values of the Stellenbosch Wine Route are shared by all.
There’s a clear respect for the environment, the championing of locally grown and produced products, a nurturing of the community and a zest for the good things in life.
Having the chance to #eat #drink #explore #shop & #stay on the Stellenboch Wine Route: it’s a thing we love….
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