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Top 10 Wineries of the Cape

14 Mar

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1. Vergelegen

Somerset West. Possibly the grandest of the Old Cape estates, established by Governor Willem Adriaen van der Stel in the late 17th century. It languished as a wine producer until viticultural wizard André van Rensburg took over the cellar in the early 2000s and turned it into the most decorated winery of the Cape. His reds and whites rival the best of Bordeaux.

2. Meerlust

Eersterivier, Stellenbosch. In the Myburgh family for eight generations, this most elegent of all Cape Dutch manors is renowned for it elegent, Bordeaux-style Rubicon blend. In years when the stars do not align at Meerlust, they do not bottle a Rubicon.

3. Rust en Vrede

Helderberg, Stellenbosch. One of the oldest wineries in the Stellenbosch region (established 1694), in 1977 it was bought by Springbok rugby legend Jannie Engelbrecht. Since then it has been a consistent performer, particularly with a red Bordeaux-style blend, as well as Shiraz (Syrah) and other single varietals.

4. Kanonkop

Simonsberg, Stellenbosch. This is the flagship estate championing Pinotage, a South African hybrid created by crossing Hermitage (Cinsaut) and Pinot Noir. Because of some poor examples it’s had a bad press of late, but at its best Pinotage rivals the fruits of any noble vine.

5. Klein Constantia

Contantia, Cape Town. First made famous for its sweet Vin de Constance in the early 1800s, it is the current outstanding producer of the verdant Constantia valley. They have recreated Vin de Constance, sold in replica hand-produced bottles.

6.Hamilton Russell Vineyards

Hemel en Aarde Valley, Hermanus. Arguably the finest producer of both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the Cape, but also a strong cam

paigner for the local Pinotage grape.

7. Thelema Mountain Vineyards

Helshoogte Pass, Stellenbosch-Franschhoek. A  prolific, award-winning producer of modern classics; the avenue of eucalyptus trees lining the approach to the winery lends a subtle, most pleasant, hint of mint to the Cabernet Sauvignon. The queen (of England) apparently approved of the Sauvignon Blanc.

8. Simonsig

Simonsberg, Stellenbosch. Pioneer in and top producer of Méthode Cap Classique (sparkling wine made in the Champagne style); delivers outstanding, award-winning reds and whites. Was also a pioneer of the country’s first wine route.

9. Rustenberg

Ida’s Valley, Stellenbosch. Another of South Africa’s older wineries (established in 1682). Look out for superb examples of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

10. Cederberg

Cederberg mountains, Clanwilliam. Until a few decades ago wine made here was strictly for on-site consumption – until current winemaker Dawid Nieuwoudt took control; this early 18th century property has been in the same family since its inception. At 1,000 meters above sea level, it has the highest vineyards in the Cape and produces consistently award-winning wines. Worth visiting if only for the trip through the wild Western Cape mountains north of Cape Town.


The best Burgers in town...

14 Mar

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The Farmer’s Kitchen

Try: The home-made grilled lamb burger with red onions, red pesto, feta and tzatziki.
Side: chips or salad.
Price: R68. 

Goederust Farm Kitchen
Try: the homemade beef burger on ‘roosterkoek’ topped with bacon, mature cheddar and sweet potato.
Side: hand cut regular or sweet potato chips
Price: R65

La Vigna
Try: The gourmet sirloin burger with mature Brie, bacon, red-onion chutney and slow-roasted tomatoes.
Side: French fries or salad.
Price: R78.

The Red Leaf Restaurant
Try the: Signature Pinotage Burger, a 250g beef patty served with Pinotage onion marmalade.
Side: Chips or salad.
Price: R85.

Stellenbosch Adventures

13 Mar

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Hot air ballooning : The unique experience of hot air ballooning is, essentially a rather elegant, eccentric adventure in space and time, and promises an excitement all of its own. Hover at tree-top height for a chat with or a wave to a local farmer as you go. Or, if you wish, and conditions permit, your pilot can take you to soar high among the clouds.

Horse back riding : One of our famous horse riding trails at the beautiful Journey’s End Wine Estate in the Helderberg! Situated a stone’s throw from Somerset West, our riding trails will afford you all the grandeur and beauty that is False Bay and the Cape Peninsula. Experience some of the world’s most dramatic and spectacular scenery on horseback! See the awe inspiring view of False Bay and capture the splendid beauty of Cape Point from the secluded foot of the Hottentots Holland mountain range.

Paintball : A social paintball business and a trend setter in the region. We have an extra large area with 3 fields that are safe and full of natural cover like rocks, trees and valleys which makes it ideal for paintball. The large are prevents unnecessary close-up shots like in smaller fields which is not ideal for kids. Our resting area is amongst huge pine trees where you can relax afterwards and share battlefield stories. 

Quad Biking : This venue is near Stellenbosch /Paarl area. Based on the beautiful Rhebokskloof Wine Estate in Paarl, South Africa, the quad bikes complement the horse trails, by allowing guests to enjoy the same views and nature experience, as the horse riders do. Like the horse trails, the quad bikes are led by an experienced guide. There are half hour to 2 hour trails. There is also a fun obstacle course through the forest, which gives novice riders the opportunity to practice their new skills. The trails operate 7 days a week.

10 Superb things to do in Stellenbosch

13 Mar

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You may or may not know that Stellenbosch is the second old­est town in South Africa and is fondly referred to as ‘Eikestad’ or city of oaks. While vis­it­ing this town your eyes will be drawn to the gor­geous examples of Victorian, Cape Dutch and Georgian archi­tec­ture that line the streets. Take you time and walk down Dorp Street which is a national monu­ment and a real treasure.

Stellenbosch isn’t only a wine region it is also home to the University of Stellenbosch and so on any given day you’ll find plenty of stu­dents mak­ing their way to and from cam­pus, which also means that the town has an act­ive night­life — so be sure you’re ready for a jol! Because it is only an hour away from Cape Town this means you can eas­ily pop into an event, per­haps one of the Oude Libertas Summer Season Concerts or take in a film or two at the Cape Winelands Film Festival. If you’re stay­ing for more than a day we’ve come up with 10 won­der­ful sug­ges­tions of things you can busy your­self with in this his­tor­ical town …












Places to walk on sundays

13 Mar

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There is some­thing about Sunday after­noons and the need to get out of doors with little ones. Gone are the days of lie-ins and read­ing nov­els on the couch. And this fact will be made all the more palp­able the more you try and relive them, so get­ting out is a good idea. Even without little ones, you’ll find these rel­at­ively easy walks a ser­i­ously lovely way to exper­i­ence the won­der­ful sum­mer, autumn and spring months.


A nature reserve that lies just under the Table, the Deer Park, in Vredehoek, is filled with paths used by run­ners, walk­ers, bike enthu­si­asts and dog walk­ers. The myriad path­ways — some of which are wild and over­grown and go right up the moun­tain, and oth­ers that are actu­ally board­walks and great to do with chil­dren — make the Deer Park the pop­u­lar space that it is.


Long Beach

Long Beach, also some­times called Noordhoek Beach (rather obvi­ously because it lies belowNoordhoek) stretches for 8 km all the way through to Kommetjie and makes a won­der­fully long and chal­len­ging walk that little ones will rel­ish (just not the very little ones, they’ll need to be at least four years old). What makes the walk so lovely is not only the wild­ness of the place, the occa­sional horse rider and the relaxed and unhur­ried pace, but the ship­wreck part way.


Sea Point Promenade

Sea Point‘s long stretch of paved walk­way on the edge of the sea does not need an intro­duc­tion to Capetonians, who make very good use of this won­der­ful water­front area to exer­cise and feel the sea breeze on their skins. The place is a won­der­ful mix of people, safe for chil­dren (there are parks, jungle gyms, swings and a new out­door ‘gym’ for all to use), great for sun­down­ers and pic­nics and, des­pite hav­ing very little beach to speak of, one of the city’s local ‘haunts’.


Golf Travel Promotion at Summerwood

22 Feb

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In the heart of the Cape Winelands just 45 minutes from Cape Town and amid mountainous scenery lie the following internationally renowned golf estates all in close proximity of your Summerwood Guest House in Stellenbosch.

Stellenbosch Golf Club: – with some holes bordering the vineyards, this is a parkland layout that is a delight to play, with large trees framing the holes and surrounded by mountain slopes under vine.

Spier Golf Estate: – the holes are set on rolling and undulating terrain and meander between vineyards, fruit trees and an array of superb water features. Spier Wine Estate is one of the most visited estates in the Cape Winelands and is found in the heart of Stellenbosch.

Summerwood Golf Packages

Boschenmeer Golf Club: – set in the Paarl Valley area and designed by David Frost, this 27 hole golf course offers a splendid mix of tree-lined fairways, and challenging and visually spectacular water features, all leading to large and perfectly manicured greens.

Erinvale Golf Estate: – host of the World Cup of golf in 1996 and designed by Gary Player, this golf course has two very different moods. The first nine holes are built on flat terrain, with strategic water hazards and an array of different style bunkers. The second nine holes are on undulating higher ground. Erinvale is set in the Somerset West area of the Cape Winelands.

Pearl Valley Golf Estate: – designed by Jack Nicklaus, this golf course aims to blend in with the natural environment. The fairly flat and largely uninterrupted terrain enabled Jack Nicklaus to develop hole strategies resulting in a golf course the requires the golfer to “think” his/her way around the course. Pearl Valley Golf Estate is found near the Cape winelands town of Paarl which is very close to Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.

10 Facts about Stellenbosch

22 Feb

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  • Stellenbosch is the 2nd oldest settlement in the Western Cape province (behind Cape Town). The town of Stellenbosch was founded in 1679.
  • Stellenbosch is named after its founder, Simon van der Stel (former governor of the Cape Colony).
  • In the early days of the Second Boer War (1899-1902) Stellenbosch was one of the British military bases and was used as a remount camp for British soldiers.
  • Stellenbosch has a population of about 117,000 (not counting students).
  • Maties Rugby club is one of the oldest rugby clubs in the world.
  • Omar Henry (South African cricketer), Charl Langeveldt (South African cricketer), Roger Telemachus (South African cricketer), Paul Roos (Springbok Rugby player), JP Pietersen (Springbok rugby player) and Giniel de Villiers (Rally Driver) were all born in Stellenbosch.
  • Stellenbosch University was founded in 1866 as Stellenbosch Gymnasium, renamed in 1881 to Stellenbosch College, renamed in 1887 to Victoria College and finally renamed to its current name in 1918 (when the institution acquired university status). More than 26,000 students attend Stellenbosch University.
  • One of the first schools in South Africa opened in Stellenbosch in 1683.
  • The early settlers to this fertile region were encouraged to plant oak trees and Stellenbosch’s oak lanes streets bear testimony today in the town being know as “Eikestad” (meaning village of oaks). Stellenbosch is also referred to as “Stellies” by South Africans.
  • South Africa currently has 101 957 hectares under vines, of which approximately 18 %is planted in the wine of origin Stellenbosch region.

Helderberg Nature Reserve

22 Feb

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In the early 1960’s, The Rotary Club of Somerset West suggested that a Nature Reserve would benefit the Community.
On 3 October 1964, the farmland was opened as a reserve by the Administrator of the Cape.

The Helderberg Nature Reserve is situated in Somerset West on the slopes of the beautiful Helderberg Mountain overlooking False Bay.

There are picnic spots, an information centre, our Guinea gift shop, exhibitions and hiking trails for young and old. See our lovely Bontebok, and watch the tortoises lazily mowing our lawns.

Contact Information

  • Information Centre: (021) 851-4060
    Indigenous Nursery: (021) 851-9192
    (open Tuesday – Friday from 10:00-16:00)
    (open Saturday from 10:00-14:00)
  • Environmental Education Centre: (021) 852-8831
  • Resource Centre: (021) 852-8831
  • Reserve management: (021) 851-6982
  • After hours (emergency only): (021) 957-4700

Entrance fees

Vehicle R5.00
Bus R250.00 (prior arrangement only)
Adult R10.00
Child R5.00 (under the age of 13)

Blankbottle Wine – a Summerwood favourite

22 Feb

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Moment of Silence 2009 (now officially sold out thanks to my first ever export order leaving Cape Town harbour this week).  I am pre-releasing the newly bottled and labelled Moment of Silence 2010 . If you order 12 of the new Moment of Silence 2010 (R53 per bottle) before this coming Saturday (21 May), you only have to pay me for 11 bottles.

Although similarly styled to the 2009 vintage, the 2010 is slightly more Chenin driven. I made use of a different block of Chenin with a very interesting history, which I will tell you more about later.

At this stage the wine has more pure fruit than the 2009 vintage. Older barrels were used and the wine was fermented and aged for a year in barrel. The wood is so subtle, it’s hardly recognizable. It just adds a bit of oemph. The wine was bottled a month ago, so I’m anticipating many changes to the wine in the months to come. The Chenin will become integrated and the Chardonnay and Viognier will be making their contribution in due time.

To make use of this pre-release offer, place your order by replying to this email with your delivery details and I will send a final quote. The price is R53 a bottle (valid until close of business Friday 20 May 2011). At the moment, you will not be able to buy this wine on my website as it is not officially released yet.

Once again, thank you for your support!

Pieter Walser for BLANKbottle

BLANKbottle wines  I  Lanrust Wine Estate  I  Winery Road  I  Somerset West 7129  I  South Africa

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Mobile: +27 (0)82 872 8658  I  Fax: +27 (0)865 030 974

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Hermanus Wine Route

22 Feb

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The right place to start a tasting tour of the Hermanus wine route is with the Sultan of Sauvignon – big Bartho Eksteen, the incumbent Diners Club Winemaker of the Year (2010) – the Cape’s most exclusive winemakers club. Over a tasting of the new 2010 vintage of his award-winning Nr 5 Sauvignon Blanc, Bartho quips “I was chuffed to win the award with a wooded Sauvignon Blanc up against all those other wines. It stood out like a swart skaap (black sheep)” (the name of Bartho’s Cabernet Franc wine) – and underscored the region’s success with this signature cool-climate variety.

The number of cellars in Walker Bay has grown like the whales visiting Walker Bay over the last decade. I was struck by the number of newer producers exhibiting at the annual three-day Hermanus Wine and Food Fair at Hermanus Wine Village in August. I enjoyed my first taste of the cool-climate wines of Barton Vineyards (Bot River) Brunia Cold Mountain Vineyards (Stanford/Elim), Domaine des Dieux (Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge under new winemaker John Seccombe), Hornbill House (garagiste winemakers in Hermanus), Jakob’s Vineyard (Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge), Elemental Bob (brilliant Turkish/Delight blends from Craig Sheard of Spookfontein), and Seven Springs in the Overberg (a stunning maiden Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay 2010).

Tasting your way up the Hemel-en-Aarde – divided into the new valley, upper and ridge wards – takes visitors from HPF and Whalehaven at 22 metres above sea level to the highest vineyards of Ataraxia at 400 metres. Four signature varieties have made the reputation of the valley – with signature Sauvignon Blanc (24% of all plantings), Chardonnay (20%), Pinot Noir (18%) and, to a lesser extent, Pinotage (12%) – pioneered by Hamilton Russell and Bouchard Finlayson. The higher you climb the more diverse the wines, with a mixed bag of flagship Bordeaux, Cape, Italian and Rhône-style blends from Ashbourne, Bouchard Finlayson (Hannibal), Ataraxia (Serenity), Creation, La Vierge, Newton Johnson and Sumaridge. The valley divides into left (newer cellars) and right (older) banks on south and north-facing slopes.

http://www.wine.co.za/News/news.aspx?NEWSID=18604&Source=News - For more information on this exceptional wine route visit this link.