Tag Archives: Cape Town

Stellenbosch: First Impressions Part II (more photos)

This is Part II of my first impressions of Stellenbosch. You can find the first part here. We visited Stellenbosch as guests of Stellenbosch Wine Routes.

We left the previous post with our tasting at Stellekaya, from which we headed over to Middelvlei Wine Estate. Middelvlei’s Jeanneret and Ben Momberg waited for us with a special treat: We got to make our own Cape Blend from basic 2013 Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz wines!

Winegetters and Ben Momberg

We had so much fun figuring out what percentages should go into the “Winegetter Selection” (in this one I am adding some sugar).

Blending at Middelvlei

After we’d found our blend, I got to fill it into a bottle and personally cork it. The bottle awaited us, with a personal label and properly capped, at our next hotel.

Corking our Cuvee

After Middelvlei, we had some time left on our hands, so I decided to make use of the gorgeous bathtub in our room at Evergreen Manor and Spa. Abrie, the winemaker at Kanonkop, had given us the open bottle of 1999 Pinotage from the tasting, and it was perfect…

Kanonkop Bathtub

After this short respite, we headed over to Kleine Zalze where the assistant winemaker Dirk led us through a tasting, which once more showed strong Chenin blancs.

Kleine Zalze

Dinner that night was at Terroir, which is the restaurant at Kleine Zalze. The food was stunning visually and how it was executed. This is a lemon bar for dessert.

Dessert at Terroir

This is a random sunset, taken at Kanonkop.

Sunset at Kanonkop

The next morning, we took a tour with Hanli Fourier of Bites and Sites. She offers walking history and food tours, and man were we in for a treat. We got Biltong (the South African version of beef jerky) and Droewors (a dried sausage) at Eikeboom Butchery, the oldest in town (we’re posing with the butcher here).

At the Butcher Shop

After coffee, we headed to ZAR Tea Emporium for a Roibos tea tasting and class with Fazlin Railoun. What great fun and how tasty! We bought a kilo to take home. ‘nuff said.

Rooibos Tasting at ZAR Tea Emporium

Also, apparently I was getting a little sick of all those photo takings…:) The other two look splendid.

ZAR Tea Emporium

From there, we headed to Rustenberg winery with its stunning views set among the hills of Stellenbosch. Murray Barlow took us on a vineyard tour and then shared some of their treasures with us.

Rustenberg Vineyard Tour

Next stop was Delheim Wine Estate, another gorgeously set winery. They pride themselves in accessibility and family-friendliness and their pancake and wine pairing as well as the cupcake and wine pairing was fun, educating and super tasty.

Pancake Pairing at Delheim

Our last night we stayed at Wedgeview Country House and Spa, where they gave us the honeymoon suite just in time to prevent a break up that was a definite priority before kickoff of the US v. Germany game in the World Cup that night. The US lost, but advanced, so no breaking up was necessary. And no, I didn’t wear this sweater for photo purposes.

At Wedgeview

We had dinner at Spier Wine Farm’s restaurant, where we reminisced about the trip and started saying good bye to Stellenbosch in style…

Dinner at Spier

The next morning we did a surprise visit to Ken Forrester Vineyards after my German friend Christian of the Mosel winery Dr. Hermann told me they sold their wines. I just love our worldwide wine friendships…

Wine friends around the world

While there, we were treated to some of the best Chenin blancs I have had, most notably the FMC.

At the Chenin Man Ken Forrester

We also headed back to Kanonkop to take a few bottles of the currently re-released 2004 Pinotage we tried at the tasting. While there, Nina took a photo of me with my new best friend: Paul Sauer in its 18 liter version.

Winegetter and 18 liters of Paul Sauer

We then tried to figure out the logistics of taking wines back to Europe…not an easy task, really. Turns out we had to drink a bunch of them while still here…

Logistics of packing our stash

After that it was time to say good bye as we headed to Cape Town for more adventures. But most of all: rehydration.

The Winegetter in Cape Town

If all of these photos haven’t given you ample reasons to visit Stellenbosch, I seriously don’t know what’s wrong with you…;)

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Can’t believe summer is just around the corner, again…

It’s been a long winter in Michigan this year. There was a time, when I thought spring would never come. Then it came, and two days later we had the humid heat sweeping in that I associate with Michigan summers…I am not a fan of that, which is why we tend to spend the summers elsewhere. Like last year in South East Asia. Granted, the heat was also pretty humid over there, but there was so much to make it bearable: gorgeous beaches, awesome food, and even an awesome winery

The vineyards of GranMonte Winery

The vineyards of GranMonte Winery

Pretty much as soon as we got back from that trip, I put my foot down and declared that the summer of 2014 had to be spent in Europe. Non-negotiable. As much as I like living in the US for various reasons (and I do, despite the fact that I seem to constantly bitch about it), I have been missing Europe a lot: The close proximity of awesome places, affordable and great wine, the familiarity of things. Add in that my exchange brother from Burgundy (he now lives in Morey-St-Denis, for those familiar with the area) and I are celebrating knowing each other for 25 years this year. Our Silver Anniversary! Wow.

So we began making plans and it soon became clear that we would want to have at least two months, if not three. In the end, it all boiled down to available flights, and so I will now be across the ocean from May 27 until August 16. As we kept mailing with friends and family to figure out what to do, another thing emerged in our head: We have not been back to Africa since 2011 when we visited Kenya and Zanzibar. Given that we met in Botswana, we were beginning to dream of going to Southern Africa again…right as we were considering this, we found insanely cheap flights to Johannesburg, and ended up booking them even before we had our flights to Europe! Three weeks in Southern Africa had joined our itinerary.

I’ll spend about 10 days with my family around Mainz, and then will head to the UK to meet up with Nina and friends. We’ll spend about a week with friends in Oxford and then fly to Johannesburg.

It should be interesting, visiting Botswana again after all these years. I keep saying that that’s the way to ruin your relationship: Go back to the place where you met, and then realize how much “better” things were in those early days…;) Nah, I think we’ll be fine. The craziest thing is that we will be going to the pub where we met (aptly named Linga-Longa), and the night we arrive Germany will be playing Portugal in the World Cup. That’s crazy because the first time we really talked was when Germany was playing Portugal in the Euro Cup 2008…

Elephants in Chobe National Park, Botswana

Elephants in Chobe National Park, Botswana

From Bots we’ll head to Namibia to visit a friend for a few days, then down South to Cape Town. As soon as I knew we’d be going to Cape Town, I did some research on Stellenbosch and found the Stellenbosch Wine Routes association, a coordinated network of more than 148 wineries in the area. I reached out to them, and they have been incredibly helpful in putting together an itinerary for us that will include a bunch of winery visits and talks with winemakers as well as a vertical Pinotage tasting at Kanonkop, which is arguably one of the benchmarks of Pinotage. To say that we are excited is an understatement!

After a few more days in Cape Town, we will head back North, will take a detour into Lesotho, and then fly to Milan. We’ll have three weeks in Italy (a first for Nina, who, except for 24 hours in Rome, has not made it there), will visit wineries in Le Marche, Tuscany and the Campania region, and then will fly back to Germany just in time for my home village’s Weinfest (aka wine festival). After two more weeks in Germany, which we’ll spend considerable time of at the Mosel, we’ll head into Burgundy for a week: to celebrate with my exchange brother, and to explore the region more. Did I mention that my home village’s sister city is Pommard, and we already did a tasting with its mayor in the past?

In the Mayor of Pommard's cellars, Summer 2010

In the Mayor of Pommard’s cellars, Summer 2010

And then it is time to say good-bye to Europe, and head back to Michigan where we will move into a new apartment… Unlike last year, I decided not to start a guest blogging series despite the huge success it was. Mainly not to stretch my fellow writers’ good will more than necessary, but also because I hope to be blogging from Europe and Africa.

In any case, this should be an exciting summer.

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