Discover The Cape

March 2005 Newsletter

Cape Town Accommodation, Tours & Travel

It's Simply Fine to Wine and Dine

Greetings everyone and welcome to another dose of your Caped Discoverer. Apologies for the lateness, but I had slipped into a deep coma for a few days, after foolishly watching this years Oscars - a three hour award show strongly recommended for insomniacs and masochists. The last thing I remember before dropping off was the award winner for "Best Assistant Lighting Technician" (something to that effect) thanking his mother, who was dead, but who he felt was on stage sharing in his moment of joy.

Enjoying The Fruit of The Vine

Having fully recovered now, thanks to strong medication and prayers, allow me to get the ball rolling. Yours truly has always enjoyed a good drink, it's a pastime I often indulge in and after years of practice, it's something I feel I'm rather good at. It is then fitting that I'm based in the Cape (being the Discoverer and all) as we are blessed with some exquisite wine estates.

South Africa Wine Country

Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl make up the majority of what we refer to as "South Africa's wine country". It's an area blessed with just the right climate for wine producing. What is the right climate for wine producing, you may be asking? Well, warm dry summers and mild winter months are the most conducive to good wine making, which explains why a country like Finland will never produce a good merlot.

Wine Making in The Cape

Wine making in this country has a long, long history, having been attempted by the first European settlers as soon as they landed on South Africa's shores. A turning point was reached in 1688 when French Huguenots arrived, bringing with them their wine-making expertise and combining it with the Dutch settlers who were also keenly fiddling around with wine production. (Landing in a strange land, far from home, it would certainly drive me to drink as well). Anyway, to make a potentially long history lesson short, the gist of their efforts can now be seen in the Cape winelands, where we will find sprawling wine estates, offering wine tasting, restaurants as well as accommodation (a good idea I suppose if you plan on over indulging).

The Cape Winelands

Because of the sheer vastness of the area, there are many wine routes available for those wanting a "taste" of the Cape winelands, (weak pun I know, but I've had a few glasses of Sauvignon Blanc so I'm excused). There are many tour operators who will gladly give you a guided tour, showing you the best spots along the way, and even helping you decide on a few choice bottles to take home with you, it's probably a good idea to make a few purchases, seeing as you've traveled all that way.

Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek

Stellenbosch is in the heart of the Cape winelands and is the second oldest town in South Africa (after Cape Town obviously). Besides the wine estates found in this area, you will also be greeted by fine Dutch architecture and design, in keeping with it's history. Historians and other people who appreciate these sort of things will have an absolute ball taking in the sights of the immaculately kept "old" houses along the oak lined streets. Franschhoek is the town made famous by the French, and is a burgeoning cradle of wine estates and fine restaurants, while Paarl is also blessed with fine winelands as well as beautiful hiking trails in the mountains (another lovely pastime which we discussed in an earlier letter).

Taking a tour of the winelands is a rather pleasant and scenic way to spend a day. You may either decide to do it through a tour operator, or bring out your road maps and decide to wing it alone. In terms of convenience the tour operator may be the best way to go, but either way, your guaranteed a fine days entertainment.

Until next month then.

Signing off.
The Caped Discoverer


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Cape Wine Country

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