The afternoon sun was glaring wild on the windshield as we cringed our eyes trying to behold the verdant landscape hiding behind our shades, winding down the serpentine path inching closer to our wine tour Stellenbosch. There was a nip in the air and the sun perfectly deceiving as we lowered the windows to breathe in the fresh mountain air and rejuvenate ourselves from the 6-hour marathon drive from Knysna to Stellenbosch, the de facto wine country in South Africa.
Nestled amidst a never-ending montage of lush vineyards, Stellenbosch is the quintessential stopover in Western Cape to experience the South African Winelands in totality. Situated about 50km east of Cape Town, Stellenbosch marked the end of our amazing garden route drive with a two-night stay infused with royalty and luxury before we began our incredible Cape Peninsula drive to Cape Town with renewed vigor.
Surrounded by awe-inspiring panoramic views of the lush vineyards punctuated by rocky cliffs, our cozy little boutique resort was a classic example of elegance personified. Although we were not on a honeymoon, the aura of this majestic little town forced us to choose a honeymoon suite. We have a tremendous weakness for balconies with a view. How many times our lust for an incredible view has burned holes the size of a crater in my pocket. And here we were greeted by not one but two giant balconies with a sweeping vista of the Cape Winelands worth every penny we paid. And wait what! There’s an open-air Jacuzzi at the far end – the icing on the cake.
As dusk dawned, we spent a long time tucked in a cozy couch below the African night sky breathing in the chilly night air accompanied by a bottle of Chardonnay. There was an extra kick from the ambiance. The sky above was star-studded and apart from the occasional streaks of light from faraway cars, this was a perfect opportunity to capture a star trail.
Wine Tour Stellenbosch
The following morning after a heavy breakfast the first thing to greet us was a sleek black Mercedes with a suited chauffeur. Today’s our wine tour Stellenbosch and we could not imagine a better way to start the day. We booked a guided tour the night before. It was bright and sunny, perfect to explore the famous South African wine country.
The South African wine country is dotted with many famous wine routes. The ones topping the list are The Franschhoek Wine Route, the Paarl Wine Route, the Constantia Wine Route and the Darling Wine Route. For our wine tour Stellenbosch we decided to explore the Franschhoek wine route. We started around 10 am, gently winding down the mountain roads towards our first destination.
Boschendal Manor and Winery – first stop of our wine tour Stellenbosch
The first stop of our wine tour Stellenbosch was the gorgeous Boschendal farm. Set in the Drakenstein valley against a stunning backdrop of the Drakenstein and Simonsberg mountains, the white washed walls of Boschendal Manor and Winery stands apart shining in the sun amidst the lush vineyards.
We wandered around the perfectly manicured gardens and rows of vineyards playing a virtual game of hide and seek until we were thirsty for some wine. Our chauffeur was an old man probably in his mid-sixties, with tons of patience to wait for us every time we ran away for a photo like a kind shepherd waiting on his wild herd of goats. He was very passionate about the whole wine making process and cheerfully explained to us the finer nuances of every glass of wine we held. Sometimes digging down to the very basics like what is a full bodied, dry, crisp, tannin rich, fruity, acidic, how the taste varies with terrain and climate etcetera.
Finally, with the wealth of information, it was high time for some fine Chardonnay, Merlot, and Shiraz. Although our taste buds had a real struggle in differentiating the finer details as he explained but it was an amazing experience to soak in this world of flavors and getting tipsy in the process.
La Motte Franschhoek
The next stop of our wine tour Stellenbosch was the historic La Motte Winery. Named after the birthplace of one of its ancient owners, the science of vineyards started as early as 1752 here. Nestled in the mesmerizing Franschhoek valley, draped in rows of oak trees and the fragile Fynbos flora, La Motte is no second when it comes to the verdant vineyard landscape.
We tasted some La Motte signature wines here from spicy to fruity, light to full-bodied, that tickled our taste buds for more. We visited the cellar, trying to lose ourselves amidst hundreds of wooden barrels stacked in rows and columns. It was a fun feeling to be standing in the middle of hundreds of gallons of fine wine 😉 .
Haute Cabrière Franschhoek
Our third and penultimate stop was the Haute Cabrière winery Franschhoek, the home of Pierre Jourdan & Haute Cabriere Wines. With a history dating back to 1694, it was as if we were going back in time with each new winery on our way. Cradled between the mountains of Franschhoek valley and flanked by an amazing lake with crystal blue water, Haute Cabrière is a stunning vista to behold.
The winery presents sweeping views of the vineyards flowing from one hillock to the other in perfectly symmetric rows. The wine tasting room’s highlight is the ornately sculpted elephant bone with the map of the Cape Winelands carved on it and the caption below
– Distinguished Dry Elegance……but not dry as a bone!
From the tungsten lit tasting room, the view of the vineyards and the lake outside is mesmerizing. Adjacent to it is the Haute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant. We tasted the Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir, Pierre Jourdan Brut and few more amidst live commentary from our patient and kind chauffeur cum guide.
Môreson winery Franschhoek – final stop of our wine tour Stellenbosch
The last stop of our wine tour Stellenbosch, before retiring for the day was the Môreson winery Franschhoek. Located at the end of Happy Valley Road the white washed archway covered with a canopy of colorful vines and creepers welcomes you grandly to the bohemian open-air wine tasting bar inside. The round iron tables cluttered in the shadow of the vineyard trees gives you a sense of tranquillity and homeliness.
The journey back was dreamy. The evening sun was playing hide and seek shining through the tall trees as we made our way across the winding mountain roads back to our cozy little nest.
Pirates Tip for wine tour Stellenbosch: The sun was very bright during the day although the temperature was less in November. Make sure to wear dark shades to protect your eyes.
We would highly recommend to hire a chauffeured car or book a guided tour. We were fairly tipsy by the time we ended our tour and glad we had someone to drive us back. The serpentine two-way mountain roads rightfully demand your full attention while driving.