This past Sunday we took a trip out to Stellenbosch to visit some of their 200 wine estates. We started off at Fairview in Paarl, a larger commercial vineyard that also produces cheese (we got to meet some of the goats, too!). Here we learned the 5 S of wine tasting: sight, smell, swirl, sip and savor. Our guide explained how much you can learn about the wine-making process from looking at, smelling and tasting the wine. We also got to try a bunch of wines paired with some interesting cheeses. Our guide explained the process of making wine, from the grafting of the vines all the way to the oak barrel maturation process. There are so many factors, some of which the wine makers can control and others that are in the hands of Mother Nature, that will influence how the wine will taste. Everything from rainfall on the vineyards to the type of oak used to make the barrel to the kind of yeast used in fermentation, it all impacts the final product.
Our next stop was to Muratie Wine Estate where we learned about the history of the estate. Many of the wines we sampled were named after characters that had lived on the estate, including their dessert white wine, Forever Amber, named after the original owner’s mistress.
The next estate we visited was Middelvlei, where we had an awesome traditional braai lunch with meat, sandwiches, salads, and of course, wine. Here we tasted wine from all different stages of maturation: one right from the fermenting tanks, one after about a month in the barrel, one two months in the barrel, and one after four. They’re all from the same batch, but tasted completely different! We also sampled some of their port-style wine and brandy, also made on site. Middelvlei also had a ton of animals, including my favorite: tortoises.
The next stop was Lovane, which is the smallest estate in Stellenbosch. They have a mere 2 hectares of vines and do not sell their wine anywhere except out of the estate. We sampled six of their wines, paired with chocolates from a local confectioner.
The last stop on our trip was to Vergenoegd Wine Estate, where we got to sample six of their wines with the head wine maker himself. We also tasted homemade biltong, a cured meat kind of like beef jerky (I temporarily put off my vegetarianism in the name of cultural experiences). This estate had a small lake that we hung out by for a while before hopping back on the bus. To top off our trip, our wine guide mixed a couple of liters of brandy from Middelvlei and coke for us to enjoy on the ride back to Rosebank.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hi! My name is Nicole and I am a junior at the University of Rochester, originally from the suburbs of New York City. I am majoring in public health with minors in biology and studio arts. I love ethnic foods, Halloween, the color purple, strange artwork and marine animals. You can find me around campus volunteering as an EMT, planning on-campus concerts, or hanging out in Starbucks. My dream is to one day have a pet tortoise. I am excited to study public health in Cape Town next semester and share my experiences through photography!</span></p>