…With a little wine detours 😉
Beyond knysna we drove along some of the most scenic coastline. We were practically stopping every 10-15 min to click a picture until sikander said we will never reach stellenbosch in time for wine tasting if we keep on like this! 😀
So we headed on. At one point I was looking in the paper map we had and felt that Route 62 will be a more scenic route than N2. Route 62 is also the longest wine route so that would mean a lot of tastings on the way. At Swellendam we left the highway to join Route 62.
As soon as we hit the Route 62, the landscape completely changed. From wide open grasslands and roads running to infinity, we came into rocky mountains and zigzag roads. It’s an idyllic drive. Amidst the mountains and vineyards, the roads curves along without stressing the traveller.
Our first stop was Mantagu. Only because lonely planet said the main street of the town is flanked by 28 national monuments… It’s a beautiful, almost manicured town but we didn’t really find the period houses that have been renovated and called national monument worth the stop.. we then headed to Robertson.
A lot of SA wines we knew of come from the Robertson wine area. There are many wineries here and you should just stop by whim… unlike Stellenbosch, most regular wine tastings are free. We went to Van Loveren. I chose to do the chocolate+wine tasting and sikander went for the free regular tasting… I think he had a better time because I got a questionnaire to fill after each of my tasting and he was pleasantly busy in conversation with the lady behind the bar and enjoying his wines while I was wondering if I should mark the taste as woody or nutty? Is it garnett or deep red? 🙂
Afterwards we went to Cristina’s@Van Loveren – a Mediterranean bistro inside the vineyard. Lovely food and lovely atmosphere.
With all our stops, by the time we reached Stellenbosch, it was already 5:00 pm. Our first question as soon as we entered the estate where we were staying for the night was “when does the tasting close?”. We still had half hour so we headed straight for the cellar instead of the reception :).
We had chosen this estate to spend one night in luxury of a 5 star, amidst the vines and scenic beauty of stellenbosh. We didn’t have the best of stays there due to service issues at the hotel and by morning we figured we are more suited to places that have a more personal approach than hotels that have next to nil human interactions. In lodges and B&Bs and backpacker places, people are more open to talk and share their travels… The owners are right there having breakfast with you, giving you a little about the history of the area, helping you plan the day and taking care of anything that doesn’t work. In hotels, one the guests usually keep to themselves and two when things don’t work, the staff can sometimes be very careless about it without worrying about business. They have and 100 rooms what if one traveller goes back dissatisfied? That was somewhat our experience at Asara wine estate. The views from the hotel are breathtaking and I am a bit sad that we didn’t have the kind of time we hoped we would.
Anyway next morning we headed into town. This was also our shopping day. I wanted to buy a lot of craft stuff for my volunteering activities at the foundation and a friend had suggested a specific art supply shop in Somerset mall and we also wanted to buy some spices and groceries that we don’t find in Angola. We didn’t spend a lot of time in Stellenbosch city center but I would definitely want to spend a couple of days there exploring the city center.
Shopping was uneventful. I mean nothing to write home about.. I got crazy at the card stock counter and kept on adding pattern after pattern in my basket :).
Late in the evening we reached our beautiful lodge – Blackheath lodge – that was to be our home for the next two days.