Just a short drive East from Cape Town and you are suddenly surrounded by the beautiful gardens and rolling vineyards of one of the country’s premier wine regions. On our way to Franschhoek (our final destination), we stopped in the town of Stellenchosch for a quick visit. A modern-day college town, Stellenbosch is South Africa’s second oldest city. A beautiful medieval-style Dutch Reform church still adorns the end of a busy strip filled with art galleries and cultured cafes.
There are scores of vineyards to visit, each having its own distinct charm. Take time to visit a few for sure, with so many close-by. Farview Estates was definitely our favorite; greeted by billy goats (the estate boasts the largest herd in South Africa, used for cheese!) before being seated in their tasting room. Fairview makes a number of delectable edibles in addition to their wines, with a selection of housemade cheeses paired in a decadent wine tasting that also included six different wines (all for $7!). This marks the moment I learned that I love Feta – apparently I’d just never had good Feta. Our sommelier provided thorough descriptions and history before pouring each generous taste. Selections ranged from with their un-aged Savignon Blanc to much heavier flavors, ending with a peppery Shiraz.
We were headed for Franschhoek, the culinary capital of South Africa, but couldn’t resist a quick pop-in to Haute Cabriere for an MMC tasting. Hidden in a stone cavern seemingly carved into the side of a mountain, the estate produces some of the best ‘South African Champagne’ with some of the most unbelievable views.
Alas, just a sip before heading to dinner at the Tasting Room, the reason we’re here!
The Tasting Room – a never-ending culinary surprise. Each dish was beautiful, all TEN courses! But wait, there were three small dishes preceding the start of the actual ‘courses’. This is a truly decedent meal, a true treat for foodies everywhere. We came hangry and still couldn’t even finish our meal all the way. The flavors and creativity of the Dutch chef were truly remarkable. Our highlight was the foie gras candy bars – deliciously rich! My only regret was that I didn’t have room to finish strong. Go hungry and pace yourself. We chose the wine pairing as well (how can you not), though they also offer a substantial local list.
Stuffed, buzzed and delirious, we found comfort in the bed of our beautiful room at Auberge Clermont, a secluded bed and breakfast just off the main street through Franschhoek.