By Nicolette Waterford
When one thinks of Stellenbosch, many images come to mind… beautiful
scenery, historic buildings, oak lined streets, and last but not least, wine.
Stellenbosch is the second oldest town in South Africa and it is therefore
fitting that it is regarded as the wine capital of South Africa.
And when the wine capital of South Africa hosts a wine festival, it is bound
to be good. I cannot think of a better way to kick-start 2014 than a visit to
the annual Stellenbosch Wine Festival, taking place from January 24 until
February 2. In fact the Stellenbosch Wine Festival presented by Pick n Pay
is one of South Africa’s most popular festivals with huge appeal for food
and wine lovers, families and those in search of a great party.
The festival coincides with the historic diary entry made by Jan van
Riebeeck on February 2, 1659, reading: “Today, praise be to God, wine
was made for the first time from Cape grapes.”
According to Annareth Bolton, CEO of the Stellenbosch American Express
Wine Routes, visitors can expect truly unique events as part of the
American Express Winery Experiences. “Our members have pulled out all
the stops to present visitors with an exciting overview of Stellenbosch as
the country’s gourmet capital. These events present a virtual snapshot of
our local food and wine industry with a proudly South African flavour.
Whether you’re a serious wine enthusiast or looking for casual family
outings, the festival will definitely fit the bill this year,” mentions Bolton.
One of the highlights of the festival will undoubtedly be the Longridge
gala dinner, which will be hosted in the historic streets of Stellenbosch on
Wednesday, January 29. Plein Street in front of the town hall will be
transformed into an elegant open-air dinner venue for a fantastic
five-course meal paired with the finest Longridge wines and accompanied
by live music.
Another fine dining experience not to be missed will be the five-course
wine and food pairing presented at Towerbosch restaurant, recently
crowned as the best country-style restaurant in the country. Knorhoek has
collaborated with neighbouring wineries from the Simonsberg region
Quoin Rock, Muratie and Delheim to host this spectacular gourmet
offering on Thursday, January 30.
Don’t miss the unique DeZine Dine Cultivar Showcase at Blaauwklippen,
renowned producer of Zinfandel. Guests can choose between four
sumptuous starters and delicious desserts and then design their own main
course plate from a special chef’s selection featuring a protein, two types
of vegetables, a starch and any sauce to create a magnificent menu
paired with the guest’s own pick from the Blaauwklippen Zinfandel Trio.
Visitors will be able to enjoy a true African safari experience at several
wineries to explore the incredible natural beauty of the Stellenbosch
region. Take a tour through the vineyards of Jordan in a safari-style
vehicle and savour the incredible views and prolific fauna and flora before
enjoying a special tour and tasting in the barrel cellar. Villiera’s
220-hectare wildlife sanctuary offers a glimpse of hundreds of antelope as
well as giraffe, black wildebeest, bush pigs and Burchell’s Zebra before a
Friday, January 31, is movie night at Blaauwklippen and movie buffs can
enjoy a classic drive-in experience, ideally suited for families with kids.
The new version of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ will be screened on the big
screen set in the midst of the estate’s historic buildings. Popcorn and
candy floss as well as other yummy snacks will be available.
Mother Nature will surely be flaunting her summer finery and a host of
wineries have opted to include more relaxed, family-friendly picnic style
activities. Lanzerac Deli will serve delectable platters in their picnic area,
while Kleine Zalze will be offering a romantic picnic under the stars and
oak trees with wine and live background music. Stellenzicht will present a
live sunset concert on their sprawling lawns on January 31. Visitors can
bring their own picnic baskets or use the available braai facilities, while
wines can be purchased from the wine shop. For the ultimate summer
indulgence, be sure to visit Ken Forrester Wines for a glass of the Chenin
king’s maiden vintage Sparklehorse bubbly and strawberries. A cheese
platter will also be available.
Fantastic family fun is on the cards at Middelvlei, Delheim and Beau Belle.
Visitors will be able to enjoy the special Middelvlei boerebraai tapas paired
with great wines, while the kids can have a real farm experience feeding
the animals and going for a tractor ride through the vineyards. Delheim
will host their annual harvest celebration on January 25 and 26 with a
buffet-style picnic lunch, live music, a grape stomping competition and
supervised activities for the kids. Outdoor enthusiasts with a thirst for
adventure and quality wine can look forward to a multi-adventure day at
Beau Belle by bringing along their canoes or kayaks for a paddle on the
dam before enjoying a wine tasting followed by a picnic and live music.
Kanonkop will offer another South African treat with a delicious snoekbraai
with a ten-year vertical tasting of their multiple award-winning Paul Sauer
blend. Put South African wines to the test against their New World
counterparts during the Tri-Nations Tasting at Haskell Vineyards. Haskell
and Dombeya wines will go up against wines from Australia and New
Zealand. Enjoy a cheese platter and cellar tour.
Elegance is the key at Muratie with a special high tea featuring their fine
wines and delicate petit fours on Tuesday, January 28. Savour the
awesome setting of Waterford with bubbly on arrival, a cellar tour,
game-style drive through the vineyards and a light picnic-style lunch
served with their estate wines on the sprawling terrace. Meet the
winemaker at Morgenhof for an elegant four-course menu paired with
estate wines served in the beautifully restored manor house.
Winemaker Louis Strydom of Ernie Els Wines will be presenting an
intimate parallel tasting of his superlative Stellenbosch 2009 vintages and
the current 2011 releases. The tasting will be conducted in the Ernie Els
Trophy Room and canapés will accompany the tasting.
Avontuur combines grapes and gallops with an exceptional vineyard and
stable experience. Meet the estate’s thoroughbred champion stallions
before tantalising the taste buds with a “Tease your taste buds” wine
tasting and cellar tour.
* Visit www.stellenboschwinefestival.co.za for the full festival schedule
and more details on the American Express Winery Experiences and
American Express Wine and Dine restaurant promotions. For further
updates, join in on Facebook at StellenboschWineFestival, or follow the
Stellenbosch Wine Festival on Twitter: @StellenboschWineFest.