Open Arms of Minnesota

Cape Town Travelogue: Part 5

If you don’t drink wine, you might want to start because you do not want to miss a day in wine country. Located just 40 minutes drive from Cape Town, the wine country begins near Stellenbosch and continues through Franschoek. Not surprisingly, this is some of the most beautiful scenery that you will encounter in the Western Cape. I don’t know anything about wines, but I know what I like. My “must visit” list of wine farms includes Ernie Els and Rust en Vrede for reds, and Waterford and Thelema for whites.

Ernie Els, the South African golfer, also has one of most beautiful and perfectly situated wine farms. Sitting on the patio, tasting their offerings, absorbing the sun and the view, is one of the most relaxing ways to pass time in wine country. If you like the wines, be prepared to spend some cash because most of their wines are expensive, especially by South African standards.

Just down the hill from Ernie Els is Rust en Vrede. Although the farm itself is not quite as spectacular as Ernie Els, it still offers astounding views and, for my taste, slightly better reds that are a little less expensive than the farm up the road. A restaurant has recently opened at Rust en Vrede, but I haven’t eaten there so I can make no recommendation yet.

My taste in wines runs much more to reds than whites, so I don’t spend as much time at wine farms specializing in whites. Thelema, however, seems to have consistently good white wines. The farm itself is by no means the most interesting architecturally, nor does it offer great scenic views, but it’s a great destination for a tasting and to purchase a few bottles to enjoy during your time in South Africa. It’s been years since I visited the Waterford farm, but on my recent visit to Cape Town my friend Jane (who knows wine much better than I do) raved about Waterford’s chardonnay.

Any trip along South Africa’s wine route should include a stop in Franschoek. Lately, we’ve been taking guests to La Petite Ferme where the food, wine, and views all come together for a leisurely lunch in the most beautiful part of wine country. If you have the inclination to explore the village of Franschoek after lunch, you should absolutely do it. It’s a charming town with unique shops – though I would never cut a lunch at La Petite Ferme short in order to shop in Franschoek.

Obviously, wine connoisseurs will differ with my recommendations, and you could spend an entire vacation just exploring South Africa’s wine region. However, if you have only one day to spend on the wine route, I think you will be pleased with these suggestions.

Next up…penguins and more in Cape Town Travelogue: Part 6

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