Wine (and a drunk cat) at the end of the world… Cape Town & Stellenbosch

The flight from Livingstone to Cape Town was actually the same flight number that I took from Nairobi to Livingsone.  10 am on the plane, a 1 hour time change, landing at 1:15 pm.  Some really nice views of Table Mountain as we made the landing approach.

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Cape Town is called “The Mother City” because it was the first city in South Africa – founded in the 1650’s as a resupply stop for ships of the Dutch East India Company bringing spices from India to Old World Europe.

I got a rental car (South Africa will accept your US driver’s license), and start driving on the “wrong”side of the road.  I got to “The Backpack” around 4pm, a great hostel in a fun area of Cape Town with lots of restaurants, bars, and shops nearby on Long Street.  However, you do need to be careful at night and it’s better to travel in groups, as there are lots of drug addicts craving their next hit of “Tik” (crystal meth), and most of the dealers are also hanging out on Long Street.  I found it to be no worse than Over the Rhine in Cincinnati, or The Short North in Columbus.

The Backpack has that vibe that you get in a good hostel (everyone is instant friends), and a great lounge/bar/dining area.  They will book all kinds of tours for you.  Even backpackers from other hostels come here to make their bookings.  I decided on a Wine Tour and Whale Watching,  I though about the shark cage dive, but rumor was that it was not a great week for that, and I still have not seen whales in the wild.

It is said that the farther South you go in Africa, the better the beef gets.  Being in the most Southern big city on the continent, I decided to walk around until I found a burger joint.  I did not lack for choice, and I chose Jerry’s Burger Bar, which reminded me of Bareburger in Columbus, or Umami Burger from my time in Los Angeles (FYI: please get an Umami in Columbus).

The next morning was the Wine Flies Wine Tour.  A bunch of people in a small bus going to 5 wineries around the city of Stellenbosch, about 30 minutes from Cape Town.  A ton of fun!

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This region is well known for Chenin Blanc, and has a growing reputation for Cabernet Sauvignon.  There are over 3000 wineries in the region, and most of those do not export… so there is a lot of good wine that you can only try here!!

The first vineyard was Villera.  We toured the vineyard and winery, then tried some good wines… but the highlight was the owner’s drunk cat that jumped up on the table and started drinking discarded wine (really).

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We returned to the bus to find goofy hats- that we traded the rest of the way…

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We continued on to Remhootge where we had an excellent wine and cheese pairing.

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Then a cellar tour, nice lunch and a few wines at Middelvlei

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Followed by a phenomenal wine and chocolate pairing at Lovani.  Arranged specifically for the Wine Flies tour, with custom made chocolates – paired by the wine maker and the chocolatier.

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And finally, we capped it all off at Annandale – which has one of the highest rated Cabernet Sauvignon wines in South Africa.

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I bought a bottle of the Cab (which we drank the next night), and some port as a gift for my Aunt & Uncle when I see them in Kenya.

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We has so much fun that 8 of us met up that night for dinner and some dancing before a relatively early bed time.  Some of the girls had a 4 am bus to the shark dive (another reason I didn’t do it), and I had and early to drive to Gansbaai (2-3 hours) for the 11 am whale watching tour.

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