On the day of the massive Cape Town Storm of 2017, most everything was shut down – businesses were told to close, schools were closed, and people were asked to stay off the roads so they were clear for emergency vehicles. In reality, this storm was the equivalent to a Tropical Storm in Florida, which is where I live and frequent tropical storms often, so this storm was not a big deal to me. In Cape Town, this was the worst storm they’d seen in 34 years!
Luckily, Wine Flies Wine Tours was still operating because what better way to ride out a storm (as all people in Florida know) than to get your drink on! So, this is what I chose to do…naturally. I booked an all day Wine Tasting Tour with Wine Flies and couldn’t wait!!!
Early that morning, in the wind and rain, a mini van with a very nice tour guide/driver named Mark Shelton picked me up from my hostel. I immediately knew I was in great hands and had made the right decision going with this company because he was so profressional and nice. He was also a theme park junkie and huge fan of Orlando, so we had lots in common. We ended up picking up a full van and had some nice sightings of the storm surge on the beach during the drive. The group size of 12 included people from Ohio, Kentucky, and South Carolina; 3 people from the UK; and a single female traveler who is a Doctor in North California. The van was full, very uncomfortably so, and everyone was vocal about it; but the tour guide was so pleasant.
All five wineries were in the Stellenbosch region, so our drive wasn’t very long to the first one. Since it was so windy and cold from the storm, we didn’t do any outdoor tours of the vineyards, which was a unanimous decision. We were all fine sitting inside staying warm and tasting wine. I took thorough notes in my journal on all the wines we tasted, and I’m only boring you with brief recaps here.
The first vineyard we visited was Mitre’s Estate. This was actually a beautiful old home situated past the vineyards with a dog that roamed the house freely.
|Front door of Mitre’s Estate.|
|Driveway entering the property.|
When we walked in, the long antique dining table was already set with a variety of cheeses for our tasting.
We were taught to follow the “5 S’s” when tasting wine: Site, Smell, Swirl, Sip, and Savor.
Here are the wines and cheeses that we tasted (any my opinions):
- Chenin Blanc paired with a Feta cheese. – I don’t normally like these, but I thought it was very good and would order it if I were out at a restaurant.
- nvME Classic Red paired with Cheddar cheese. – Eh, it was ok. More of a party wine that would go well with basic pizza and pasta.
- Cabernet Franc paired with Coda cheese. – I thought it was good and would go well with a steak.
- 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Camembert cheese. – Tasted like a basic cab to me.
- 2012 Bordeaux Blend called Sholto paired with Creamy Bleu Cheese. – It included all 5 Bordeaux blends and Malbec. I thought it was very nice and would definitely order it if I were at a restaurant.
I failed to mention that I drank, not spat, all of the wines at this stop, so I had a nice buzz after we left. Haha! I think most of us did that because we liked the wines so much we just couldn’t pace ourselves. But we learned to spit at the next few stops.
The 2nd Vineyard we visited was Villiera Estate.
Here, we got to sit near a fire and warm up from the cold outside. I didn’t really like any of the wines we tasted here – actually, no one did. Here, we were able to pair the wines with South African Biltong, which is like beef jerky. It was my first time to try it, and I liked it. It was really chewy and had a little bit of a different flavor, but it was good enough that I purchased a small package of it later to take home. The wines we tried here were:
- MCC Brut – didn’t really like.
- MCC Brut Rose – sweet taste at first then dry. Didn’t really like. Very bubbly. We were told that the more delicate and airy the bubble, the higher quality the MCC.
- Sauvignon Blanc – smelled gross, definitely would not buy.
- Chenin Blanc – we were told more golden, therefore more sugar, therefore more alcohol. Thought it was similar to the above wine.
- Pinotage – we were told it was uniquely South African. Spicy, medium, it was ok.
- Monro (red) – Didn’t like this.
Side note: I cried in my wine here. Literally. We had a little down time in between our glasses. There was free wifi, so I decided to go online and this was the day that Tom Hardy’s beloved dog, Woody, had passed away – or at least the day that he had released the news about it. I was so sad (because I’m a dog lover) that I started crying, silently, in my wine. Jana, the single traveler, decided to introduce herself to me at this awkward moment, and I was so embarrassed. I later explained to her what had happened. After the tasting, Mark said he hoped the other tastings were more exciting for me, so I had to explain that I had received some bad news about someone whom I’d never even met, and the crying had nothing to do with the wine I had tasted!! Yikes! What is the moral to the story? The moral to this story is don’t take advantage of free wifi during a wine tasting.
After this tasting, we did get to go back and see some of the process of making the wines.
|This was the funniest thing that I saw there. These workers are very serious about their wine. If you look closely at the top barrel, it says “Corky wine. Don’t Touch. I kill you.” OK!!!! LOL!|
We couldn’t wait to get to our 3rd Vineyard because that meant lunch! At Middelvlei Estate, we tried two wines:
For lunch, we had Braai, which included potato salad, garden salad, braai brotjie (pronounced brekkie) and Boerewors (African sausage – like Bratwurst). After this, we went into the wine cellar and actually got to pipette wine directly from the barrels to taste!
|Drinking wine that came directly from the barrel!|
Our 4th stop was Usana, which means “new beginning”. This was on a farm with lots of chickens and cows. We tried the following:
- Pinot Gris – I learned that gris is a French name and is the same grape as Grigio, which is the Italian name meaning young, light. Gris is aged more in older barrels or tanks. Gris is more upmarket than Grigio, and I found it similar in taste to the 1st vineyard’s Chenin Blanc.
- Sauvignon Blanc – I didn’t like this. It was not as smooth as the Pinot Gris.
- Chenin Blanc – Aged in French oak barrels. Stronger than the 1st vineyard’s Chenin Blanc; I didn’t like it.
- Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Kudu Biltong – Too sweet, not dry enough. Not a fan of it.
Wasn’t a huge fan of these wines but they weren’t too bad either. The first vineyard still remained my favorite.
Our final stop was Lovane.
This tied with our first stop for my favorite. Maybe it was because here, we did tastings paired with chocolates!
|Just looking at this photo makes me miss this chocolate!!|
And they were amazing chocolates – if I could have just bought the chocolates, I would have!!!
The wines and chocolates we tasted were:
- Sauvignon Blanc paired with a Vanilla White Chocolate with Lemongrass and Cilantro. – OMG! It’s amazing how these chocolates can enhance the flavors of the wines and vice versa. This wine and chocolate paired so well together. I would definitely order it, and I’m not a huge Sauvignon Blanc fan.
- Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Milk Chocolate with Strawberry and Cocoa Nips. – These also paired well together. I thought this wine would go well with anything spicy and with steak.
- Isikhati, a Bordeaux blend, paired with Chai Chocolate that tasted like a gingerbread chocolate. – This wine was really spicy and dry, and I wasn’t sure that I liked it as much as the previous cab.
- Cape Vintage (Cabernet Sauvignon), which is similar to a port. It was paired with a Dark Chocolate with Citrus and Cardamon. – I guess I’m not a port fan because it was my least favorite, although it is their top seller and they often sell out. Several people bought a bottle or two.
Their cellar was next to where we did our tasting, so I popped in to quickly explore and snapped a few pictures of their barrels and labeling process, which is done by hand!
|Labeling the Cape Vintage (ports).|
Lovane was the only vineyard that had a shop, so I was able to buy a wine key, which I collect when I visit vineyards.
|The smaller bottle on the left is the Cape Vintage (port), their number one seller.|
I didn’t buy any wines at any of our stops because I didn’t want to deal with shipping or taking on the plane. But a few people in our group did purchase.
I already had a lot of wine knowledge going into this tour, and they assume that you have some wine knowledge, as they don’t spend time talking about basics. I do recommend bringing a notebook to take notes. I was the only one taking notes, which some people found surprising, but don’t you want to know what you liked and didn’t like and what you tasted? I didn’t end up drunk or sick. No one did. That is a good thing, but we all had an incredible time, despite the cramped van. It was a magnificent tour, and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Cape Town. And definitely ask for tour guide, Mark Shelton. He was the best! Wine Flies when you’re having fun!
I did not receive any paid endorsements or compensation for this post.