I never imagined that Ethiopia produced wine until I arrived jet lag and weary at my hotel in Addis Ababa, went to the bar and ordered a drink. “Do you prefer red or white?” the gregarious bartender asked with a smile. “What do you have” I replied, being kind of a wine connoisseur. He rattled off the different wines starting with South Africa and then asked if I’d like to try an Ethiopian wine. Ethiopian wine? I was shocked. “Is it good?” I questioned trying not to sound like a wine snob. “Try for yourself” he replied with a knowing grin. I began with a glass of dry white wine and proceeded on to a delightful glass of smooth red. It was delicious! This would become my five o’clock ritual for the next two weeks in Ethiopia; a ritual I dearly miss since being back home where I have yet to find a bottle of Ethiopian wine.
With an ideal, temperate, Mediterranean climate full of sunshine, adequate rain and fertile, unspoiled land, the Southern tip of South Africa has a long 300-year-old tradition and history of creating fabulous wines. Just like the immense diversity of South Africa’s people, the Rainbow Nation also produces some of the most exciting, diverse wines in the world. The Southern Cape in particular is one of the great wine capitals of the world, home to over 800 wineries not a far drive away from Cape Town.
There are 13 designated wine routes comprising the Winelands area of South Africa (the most popular include Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek, and Somerset West). A true wine lover could spend weeks exloring the many beautiful estates and vine-covered rolling hills. Unfortunately, I only had one afternoon. But a few hours in South Africa’s wineland convinced me that the wines are delicious, the scenary is magnificent and I would love to come back!
Here are some photos of my afternoon exploring the wineyards of the Southern Cape. Hope it makes you thirsty for more! 🙂
Drive from Cape Town to nearby Wine Country. Stellenbosch is only a mere 46k/29 miles away!
Stop for a liquid lunch in lovely, charming Stellenbosch. Stellenbosch is primarily a university town with a relaxed, carefree attitude and tons of fantastic outdoor cafes. The primary beauty of Stellenbosch is its vast display of Colonial Dutch architecture; arguably some of the oldest in South Africa. Stellenbosch was founded in 1679 by Governor Simon van der Stel who founded one of the best vineyards in the Cape, Groot Constantia and also planted hundreds of oak trees making the city informally known as the “city of oaks”.
Gorgeous Dutch Colonial architecture:
Sensational purple flowered jacaranda trees in full bloom:
Checking out the options for lunch. Way too many delightful ones to choose from!
Me, enjoying a fabulous lunch of course with an excellent bottle of local Sav Blanc—what could be better than this?
Drive to Seidelberg Wine Estate:
The wine line-up at Seidelberg Wine Estate
The gorgeous grounds of the Seidelberg Vineyard….I could live here!
The lush vineyards coating the hillside….I could smell the fragrant wines inside my head.
A bench with a view (and incredible wine):
For more information on South Africa’s wine country, here is a great site: Vineyard Varieties, which gives the historical background of the wines of the Southern Cape: http://www.vineyardvarieties.com/vineyard-variety-wines/history-of-south-african-wine/
Stay tuned….next stop is at the heart of South Africa’s Big Game…my first visit to a game reserve and a safari of a lifetime!
Note about photos in this post: All these pictures from my South Africa trip are over 7 years old. It is amazing to see the difference that seven years can make in technology! Most of these pictures are from my first digital camera. If you compare these photos with the quality of my more recent ones from my trips to Nepal and Morocco, the difference is astounding! Thank goodness for modern technology! I’ve also had to scan a few of the photos in as I took them with my other camera at the time. This explains the grainy quality. I felt it was more important to “show” all of South Africa even if some of the pictures weren’t the best quality. Hope you enjoy!