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More Wine Adventures in South Africa

We were lucky enough to get an introduction to the fine winemakers at Ernst Gouws and Co., and a tasting with Ernst himself.   The tasting included Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Pinotage and Merlot.   Ernst's Chenin Blanc and Shiraz were being shipped to the US for the first time just that morning.   If you get a chance to try them, don't hesitate as these wines are well priced and delicious.   The Shiraz was not the usual fruit bomb one encounters, but full-bodied yet supple.   The Pinotage was tasty as well but the star of the show (for us - our landlady was quite fond of the Chardonnay) was the Merlot.  

Ernst Gouws, Ezanne Gouws and Marie Beukes of Marie's B and B after the tasting.   Esrnt Gouws and Co is now in its fifth generation of winemakers, with Ernst's children all following him into the wine business.   Ernst chooses grapes from many of the area's growers, using his extensive long term local knowledge to perfect his wines.   For more information, please visit their website at   


The other day we rode our bikes up the hill to the Blaauwklippen Winery, because we had heard that this was one of the few wineries in the region that has Zinfandel.   A lovely ride down a long driveway flanked by vines led us to the winery and their small museum featuring 19th Century carriages and buggies.  


Our pourer in the tasting room was the charming Wayne, a young man who has just been chosen as one of four 'Wine Ambassadors' for the South African wine industry, giving him the chance to travel to such places as Sweden to promote various South African wineries.   Wayne is very personable, enthusiastic and knowledgeable and was well chosen for this job. 

At Blaauwklippen, we enjoyed tasting a variety of reds, my favorite being the aptly named red blend Cabriolet.   My husband was quite fond of the Pinotage.   

Another beautiful garden outside a Stellenbosch fresh produce store.   Here we bought 2 boxes of fresh peaches for 10 Rand, among other fruits and vegetables.

I made a vegetable curry over rice for dinner and a peach/persimmon crumble with all those juicy peaches.   Heartily enjoyed with wines from Ernst Gouws and Co!

Sunset over African skies from our poolside table.    The weather and sunsets have been particularly nice the last couple of days, with dramatic clouds and blessed shade as we ride our bikes.  

Another view from Marie's B and B.

A closing sunset from last night.   We are now off to the Slow Food Saturday Market.   

Tonight Stellenbosch is taking part in the Earth Night Movement, where everyone is encouraged to turn off their lights from 8:30 to 9:30 pm.  They are closing off portions of two streets and the restaurants are taking over the streets.

More photos on Monday.  

Stay tuned!

Gallery Hopping in Stellenbosch

Saturday nights are no different in this part of the world.   People come from near and far to look at art.

Guests came from as far as Capetown and Johannesburg to attend the opening of Wayne Barker's exhibit 'Super Boring' at the SMAC Art Gallery -- part of the Joberg Art Fair taking place from 25-28 March 2010.   This exhibit at SMAC is open through 23 May 2010.


Above Barker combines images of Steven Biko with African trees and an assemblage of objects.   Neon is often included in Barker's pieces.   The exhibit included work from 1989 to present, and was spread out through several rooms in the huge gallery space.

The art was anything but super boring.   SMAC stands for Stellenbosch Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery.  

These 'paintings' are created 100% with glass beading.

This piece was striking in person, sorry again for the poor quality of these photos.   

The crowd thoroughly enjoyed both the art and the venue.  Ivor Powell gave the opening address.

There were snacks and wine served, including small samosas, prosciutto and melon balls, salmon and cucumbers -- many delicious treats from the kitchen of the adjacent Wijnhuis Restaurant.  

The fun didn't stop at the Gallery, though, as down in the courtyard, live music and dancing topped off the night at the 'Super Boring' after party.  

It was the best of tastings, it was the worst of tastings!

Friday afternoon, we rode our bikes to a couple of wineries close to Stellenbosch.    From a fairly unpleasant giant corporate tasting to a charming, intimate, tasty and fun experience just a (level) bike ride away.  

Strangely, the large corporate tasting didn't provide the basic print out of prices - the lady hosting the tasting didn't even know which cheeses were featured in the cheese tasting.   As a cheese hound, that was the first deadly sin.   The only good thing to come out of this first tasting of the day was an absolutely delicious and nuanced Sauvignon Blanc.   The rest of the wines tasted were undistinguished.

But enough of that!

The best of tastings!


The wonderful Stellekaya Cellar offered a choice of 6 red wines that kept getting better and better and the first was a stunner.   These well priced and succulent reds ranged from an easy drinking red blend named Boschetto to an award winning Cabernet Sauvignon.   The company and the advice were outstanding as well.    We were lucky enough to meet Dave Lello the proprietor, Ntsiki Biyela the winemaker and a young apprentice student named Lisa - all full of cheer and good advice on the wines, the area, the restaurants, how to identify different grapes.   This is harvest time and we were able to taste Cabernet and Shiraz grapes at their peak of flavor.  

We had a good time from start to finish.   From walking through the fragrant vats on the way to the tasting bar, to the end when we were sent on our way to a delicious meal at the 5 Rynveld Restaurant.  Find out more about these wines and the winery (which is right in the center of Stellenbosch and easily accessible by cycling or on foot) please go to their website at:

Since the internet cafes have been closed for 2 days, everything is a bit slow today, and I am not able to download photos of all the adventures we have been having - and there have been many!   Lots of photos of food, South African dogs, scenic hiking, and one of the best art openings ever on Saturday night.  

Stay tuned!

4 Wineries and a delicious lunch.

Our first full day of cycling through the wineries was a huge success.   As you can imagine from these photos, late summer in the mountains of Stellenbosch are hot and sunny.


When we finally arrive into the cool and fragrant halls of the vats, we quickly guzzle some cool water and get down to the business of tasting red wines. 

The Vrieshof Winery is up a long, long and sunny hill, but when we arrived into the oak shaded courtyard to be feted with their flagship Pinot Noir, all is forgiven.

The view is always nice.

Diesel the 'BoerBull' licks his lips as he contemplates eating those dreadful bicyclists.  We were escorted past his turf as he does not like bikes.


Next stop was riding through vineyards to the lovely Waterford grounds.   I wish that I could send you the marvelous fragrances that we smelt as we rode to the tasting terrace.   First the smell of fresh mown grass, then citrus groves and finally the best smelling lavender ever.   You can see the lovely arches.   A large table of American tourist just cleared that back table.   They too were biking, but with a host and a van as back up.   Just another of the great options available. 

The Waterford Winery is not allowed to print their logo on any glasses in an agreement with the Irish Waterford crystal firm.

One of the few estates that we did not see dogs, instead there were swans.

My favorite time of the day is always lunch.  This is a flammekuchen, topped with creme fraiche, gorgonzola cheese, roasted butternut squash, fresh rocket and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.   It was as good as it looked.   This is at the Dornier winery.   The wines were good across the board, but I think whites would have suited this meal better.   I am in love with this country all over again.

This is a view of the restaurant terrace.   Did I mention that the tasting was free with lunch?

We did go to Stellenzicht winery on the way home, but were too late to do anything but taste their Shiraz.  No time for photos.

More tomorrow.

Bikes, Wine Tasting and the Vinyard Dogs!

We got a late start yesterday on biking through to the many wineries in this area.  

First stop was the Lanzerac Winery.   The first to bottle South Africa's famous Pinotage grape in 1961, the winery is accessed down a long driveway lined with vines with views of the mountains behind.   Started in the 17th Century, this vinyard is well worth visiting.   We tasted 5 red wines, all were delicious.   I preferred the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon and Daniel chose the Pinotage as his favorite.

This charming pair of Chow Chows greeted with their black tongues and wagging tails at Lanzerac.

At the next winery on our route - Le Riche Winery - we met Fila, a blue tick hound from Canada.   Soft and friendly, she was well behaved and well loved.  

Marcelle, the proprietress of this spectacular estate treated us to a delicious trio of wines.   First a Chardonnay with citrus notes, next two fabulous reds - a blend and then a wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon.   Luckily we are only getting small samples of these beauties and thus can drive home on our bikes always remembering to keep to our left.  

Fila says goodbye as we head off to the next destination.

Alas, we arrived too late to try the wines at the Neil Ellis Winery.   But not too late to enjoy the view.

Finally, today on the way to this internet cafe, we met Quincy the English Bulldog.   Only 11 months old, Quincy is as friendly as can be even though I had a big hat on and was on my bike.