Spice Route, Backsberg and Rupert & Rothschild
Day 2 – Sunday 22nd January
After a good night’s sleep and a chance to reflect on our first day in South Africa, none of us thought that day two could be any better than yesterday. So, with a 9am start we met at the reception of The Peninsula Hotel ready for another adventure.
It was a beautiful and sunny Sunday morning so all the ladies chose to wear summer dresses, the guys went for the casual look of shorts and t-shirts. After a 10 minute wait our bus driver arrived to take us on a tour of one of the wine growing regions, of which there are many. It was only once we set off that we realised our driver had volunteered to work on his day off, what a trouper!!
The drive from Cape Town was filled with stunning views of picturesque landscapes, flora and fauna.
Our first stop is the Spice Route where ancient Dutch style colonial buildings house an array of tasting experiences designed to simulate the palate. We began with the beer tasting where a knowledgeable young lady explained to us the way this small brewery works. Based on the German way of brewing beer we are invited to taste six different variations from the strong larger preferred by the guys to one made with raspberries and a lighter one called breakfast beer, more appreciated by us girls. With a liquid breakfast consumed we moved next door to the De Villiers Chocolate house where we certainly made sure to try the many different types of delicious chocolate on offer; spicy, salty, Venezuelan, dark and light blends and so many other flavours. They have an onsite shop and the opportunity was taken to buy a few samples to take back home.
It was now mid-morning and time to visit the gin house where an expert distiller explained the process of how gin is made and then offered us samples of the many varieties they produce. Being surrounded by such quaint and natural beauty, transfixed by the landscape and the freshness of the breeze, a feeling of peaceful relaxation washed over me. I was amazed by this place and this was only the beginning of our day.
Our second stop of the day took us to meet Michael at the Backsberg Estate Cellars, winners of the Nedbank Green Wine Award in 2013 for the best biodiversity and wine initiatives. Not only would we have the chance to sample from their range of wines but also have a go at blending our own wine. Our group of 10 was split into two teams of five and we had to create the best blend using three different wines to create the right blend of one of their best selling red wines. After much sampling of our various attempts we were invited by Michael to submit our best blend for judgement. We could tell there wasn’t much to choose between the two blends. However, team one won the ‘best design of wine label’ and team two just edged the ‘best blend’ and a diplomatic result was a draw.
After this fun experience it’s time for lunch, blending wine works up an appetite. So it’s back in the minibus and off to The Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons. Located at the foot of the spectacular Simonsberg Mountain in the Franschhoek Valley lies this historic French Huguenot farm Fredericksburg. Established in 1690 and now home to Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons.
I can only say UAU!! The entrance to this beautiful countryside property is decked out with Agapanthus, Palm Trees and beautiful gardens leading up to the reception entrance. We were guided to our table set in full view of a large window with an amazing view to their vineyards. The dining table presentation was both elegant & immaculate with the wine glasses the main feature.
Our informed table waitress introduced us to this new “wine tasting experience” where the wines are served to compliment the food and each dish is carefully selected to marry with the wine.
We enjoyed a well travelled wine selection from France (wine & champagne from the exclusive Rothschild properties), Argentina and New Zealand. Our menu (Poached Prawn, Cured Tuna, Kingklip, Duck Breast and Lamb Shoulder) was expertly chosen and prepared by head Chef Carmen Muller.
With a delightful lunch consumed our Restaurant Manager James Foster entertained the entire restaurant with a solo rendition of “Bring Him Home” from the musical Les Miserables.
It was the perfect end to our second day in Cape Town and a poignant memory to reflect on whilst enjoying another stunning South African sunset.