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 AMERICAN EXPRESS VOTED

AFRICAN CLASSIC ENCOUNTERS

ONE OF THE MOST EXCITING WINE TOURS

TO SOUTH AFRICA

 

 

The Cape Winelands is a scenically enchanting region of dramatic mountains and fertile valleys, planted with vines stretching across rolling fields. Here farmers enjoy perfect conditions and produce of the best wines in the world. The soil is so rich, they use about a tenth the amount of fertilizer that European farmers do.

 

It is a wonderful combination of small historic towns, beautiful scenery and wine estates producing delicious wines and brandies. There are literally hundreds of wine estates, all offering the chance to sample their unique blends in a picture-perfect setting.

Stellenbosch is the capital of the Winelands and was the second town to be established by the Dutch settlers. It is very attractive and full of old thatched and whitewashed Cape Dutch buildings and historic national monuments.

 

The wine estates too, are most impressive with grand manor houses and beautifully laid out grounds. Allow yourself enough time to fully explore this area and let a guide take you around to fill you in on its fascinating history and show you the best spots.

Take a look at the map locations, especially Paarl, Stellenbosch, Grabouw, Franschhoek, Wellington and Worcester.

 

Wine regions of South Africa - Paarl, Stellenbosch, Franschoek explored by African Classic Encounters.com

 

With idyllic wine estates, rural scenes and peaceful countryside, this region is a favorite of local and foreign holidaymakers looking for peace, quiet and quality fare. An hour's drive north-east of Cape Town is some of the most sublime countryside to be found anywhere in the world - a land of high mountains and green valleys, of vineyards and scented orchards, heavy with a mellow fruitfulness. Historic towns and villages and gracious homesteads, which represent the very best in Cape Dutch architecture, are also to be found in this region known as the Cape Winelands - an area that produces wines as notable as its scenic beauty.

These were the first rural areas to be taken over by the early white colonists of South Africa who turned the land over to pasture, the growing of wheat and increasingly, the cultivation of wine grapes. As the farms prospered, the colony expanded and a number of small towns were founded: Stellenbosch in 1679, Franschhoek 11 years later, followed by Paarl, Wellington and Tulbagh, all worth visiting for their history, beauty and award-winning wine estates.

South Africa's second oldest town, Stellenbosch, lies in the Eerste River Valley beneath the Papegaaiberg. The town is built on history, evident in its architecture, much of which can be seen along the oak-lined Dorp Street and in the Village Museum complex.

Stellenbosch University is a leading centre of learning and the town is also the starting point of a major wine route that includes more than 20 wine estates within a 12km radius. During the summer, the Oude Libertas Amphitheatre provides a stunning setting for open-air music, opera and drama preceded by a picnic on the estate's lawns. Other points of interest include Oom Samie se Winkel, a charming general dealer from a bygone era, the Van Ryn Brandy Cellar and the cellars of the Bergkelder, which have been carved out of the hillside.

Moyo at Spier is an unforgettable outdoor dining experience that captures the essence of Cape African culture. A fusion of sophisticated modern décor and distinctly African dishes create an inspiring culinary affair. Relax and enjoy the spectacular vistas while you're treated to a colourful brand of Cape African hospitality and an extensive buffet as rich and exciting as the many diverse cultures we draw from. The tree-lined garden is filled with Bedouin tents and gazebos and the tree houses are clad with beautiful hand-crafted copper water features.

Live performers will entertain you with indigenous theatre, dance, opera and traditional storytelling from noon until late. Young visitors (under 12) are treated to exciting programmes on ecology, drumming workshops, African storytelling and so much more. The estate can be reached on the Spier Vintage Steam Train.

From Stellenbosch, drive via the scenically splendid Helshoogte Pass to the small town of Franschhoek, founded in 1688 on land granted to the French Huguenot refugees who had escaped religious persecution in Europe. Franschhoek is best known for its first-class restaurants - some of which feature sweeping views over the valley below.

Founded in 1720, Paarl is the largest of all the Winelands towns and was named after the granite rock that resembles a giant pearl on the overlooking mountain. The mountain and surrounding area have been proclaimed a nature reserve and the circular route to the top offers the visitor panoramic views of the valley below. Heading back down towards the town, the Afrikaans Language Monument or Taalmonument, makes for an interesting stop.

Other features include the KWV complex - one of the world's largest wine companies and the wine estates Fairview, which makes a variety of cheeses on-site and Nederburg, South Africa's best-known wine estate and host of the annual Nederburg Wine Auction, a highlight on the South African social calendar.

Over and above the award-winning wine estates, restaurants and scenic beauty throughout the Cape Winelands, there are vineyard
hiking trails, fly-fishing and fine golf courses too. Helicopter flips, aerobatic flights and tandem paragliding can also be arranged.
 

 

South Africa currently has 100 200 hectares under vines for wine production.


South Africa produces 8,1% of the world's wine and ranks as number nine in overall volume production.

 

SOUTH AFRICAN WINE TODAY - A NEW VISION

At the southern tip of Africa, where two mighty oceans meet in the shadow of landmark Table Mountain, lies the fairest Cape in the world. Known locally as the Mother City, Cape Town is the gateway to the South African winelands and one of the great wine capitals of the world. Here the cultures of Africa, Europe and the East have met and mingled for over 350 years, shaping a city both ancient and modern, rich in colorful history and culturally diverse.

The Cape has witnessed many momentous events in South Africa's history: the landing of the Dutch settlers in 1652, the British invasion during the Napoleonic Wars, and the rebellion into the interior known as the Groot Trek. This was where, in 1990, Nelson Mandela took his first historic walk to freedom. And it was here, four years later, that Archbishop Tutu described the new South African nation as 'the rainbow people of God', and the 'rainbow nation' was born.

Today South Africa is a peaceful democracy, a vibrant and exciting country of enormous diversity. This variety is reflected in our wines. With a winemaking history dating back more than 300 years, the industry reflects the classicism of the Old World but is also influenced by the contemporary fruit-driven styles of the New World. This rare combination makes for wines which are complex yet accessible, refined yet powerful, eloquently expressing the unique terroir and people of the Cape.

In the last few years, a dynamic new vision has given momentum to changes within an industry which is innovation driven,
market directed, globally competitive and highly profitable. This new ethos has seen the local wine industry emerge as a global enterprise with strong cultural roots and a sense of social responsibility. It has truly come of age. With the advent of democracy, the opening of new markets and exposure to international trends, South Africa can now compete with confidence on the world wine stage. A passionate new generation of winemakers, many with experience of harvests around the globe, are keen to learn, experiment and consolidate. There's also been a focused shift from grape farming to wine growing.

With new wineries opening up at a steady rate and South African wines attracting increasing acclaim internationally, the growing visibility in key markets abroad, the recognition by foreign trade and consumers of the value South African wines offer across price ranges, and the rise in South African wine tourism have all contributed to aggressive growth. Positive international media coverage has also played a key role. South Africa has the advantage of being able to supply foreign markets with regionally diverse wine styles which highlight the Cape's biodiversity."

 

DYNAMIC GROWTH

The Cape wine-growing areas, situated in the narrow viticultural zone of the southern hemisphere, mainly have a Mediterranean climate and the mountain slopes and valleys form the ideal habitat for the wine grape Vitis vinifera, the products of which have given pleasure to man for many centuries. Long, sun-drenched summers and mild, wet winters contribute to the ideal conditions for viticulture at the Cape.

Currently, more than 4 435 farmers cultivate some 110 200 hectares of land under vines. Some 257 000 people are employed both directly and indirectly in the wine industry. The annual harvest in 2006 amounted to 1 333 989 tons (998 million litrers), of which 75% was used for drinking wine.

 

WINE PRODUCERS

 

Estate wineries, which under the original legislation could make wine only from grapes grown on their own land. In 2004, a new dispensation did away with traditional 'estate' and focuses instead on 'estate wine' which must be produced in contiguous vineyards farmed as single units. These units must also be equipped with facilities to enable all processes up to final certification. All previously registered estates have now automatically been registered as Units for the Production of Estate Wine. For the first time, they can use their names to brand their total wine production (i.e. estate as well as non-estate) but only certified estate wine may be labeled and marketed as such.

 

Co-operatives, which on a communal basis process the grapes of their farmer member shareholders into wine - these co-operatives alone have invested vast amounts in production equipment and they press about 80% of South Africa's total wine harvest.

Independent cellars and a number of wholesalers who buy in both grapes and wine, and make wine for bottling under their brand names, as well as making wine from grapes grown on their own wine farms.

 

 

WINE AND MORE WINE

 

 

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