First tasting

The two wino’s have finally made it to the heart of some of the worlds best wineries, Stellenbosch, South Africa. It is a painful reality that Canadians are only allowed to bring back two bottles of wine per person. One of life’s regrets.


Stellenbosch is a lot like the Okanagan Valley – on steroids. Like the Okanagan, we are in a valley, with a big craggy mountain as a backdrop but the sheer number of wineries here sets this apart from anything we’ve seen in Canada.

The weather has suddenly become pleasant again – warm during the day and perfect braai and sleep weather at night. We arrived in a dramatic thunder and lightening rain storm, but that subsided in time to light the fire.

Tasting in the cellar of Kleine Zairze

When we first arrived here, the reception office of our campground was closed for lunch. We thought we may as well get started on things. For our first tasting, at the Kleine Zairze winery, we sat in a private room in the cellar with some big cushions on the bench. The walls were covered with awards. Every wine we tasted was fantastic, the generous portions appreciated. Cost for the tasting was R30 ($3 CDN) for 5 wines, waived of course if we bought a bottle, which of course we did.

Britzie patiently waiting for us

The next day we spent a couple of hours walking through the very pretty town of Stellenbosch. It’s a University town, vibrant and youthful. The Botanical Gardens highlight the centre of town. The streets are lined with interesting shops and restaurants. The very modern mall is a hustle bustle place.

Lunch at L’Avenir

Our next wine stop was French , L’Avenir. We thought we’d order a snack with our tasting and both got a generous lunch. We ate and sipped wines on the deck, surrounded by beautifully manicured lawns. We brought back two bottles of Shiraz from here. In Canada wine tasting are comparatively rather rushed affairs. Expect at least an hour here, maybe two if you eat something. Very relaxing.

Our winery map

Our last stop of the day was more rustic, we tasted wines while chickens walked under the table. Louisenhof Winery poured us the most generous portions, but unfortunately not of the best wines. There was an amazing rose that cost R45 ($4.50 CDN) that I was tempted to bring home for one of those hot evenings on the patio, but with space for only 4 bottles I had to be selective.

Mountain Breeze Campground

We’re leaving today, heading down to the Cape. I still have room in my back pack for one more bottle, so we’ll take the wine route out of town. There really are only wine routes to take anyway.

The diversity of Africa will never cease to amaze me. Stellenbosch, and this wine region, makes me feel like I’ve fallen out of Africa completely and landed somewhere in Europe. If I had time to linger anywhere, I’d linger here.

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