06th May, 2017
So after our first day of over eating and drinking at these beautiful cafes and restaurants in Cape Town, we thought we should do some sightseeing today! (February 22nd, 2017)
We woke up to a lovely sunny morning, but the forecast for the day was quite windy so once again the cable cars at the Table Mountains were not operational. We definitely suggest checking the weather forecast prior to planning your Table Mountains trip! So we decided on visiting Stellenbosch and doing a day tour of the vineyards and driving through the beautiful roads of Cape Town.
After consulting the hotel staff and a friend in Johannesburg, we shortlisted 3 vineyard estates known for their estate, hospitality and, of course, wines!
Delaire Graff, Tokara and Thelema.
Post a heavy breakfast – freshly baked homemade breads and croissants (absolutely delicious), fresh fruits, different egg preparations, we drove straight to the Vineyards in Stellenbosch.
Stellenbosch – located around 120 kms from Cape Town, takes approximately 1.5 hours by road. The drive was absolutely scenic with greens pastures along countryside roads, old colourful houses, windmills and beautiful churches.
MIRINDA suggests! – We would highly recommend self-driving around Cape Town. Firstly, the sophisticated infrastructure and the well-obeyed traffic rules ensure a seamless experience (right hand drive with strict adherence to speed limits, parking spots and signal stops). Secondly, it gives you a perfect mix of driving through picturesque mountains, beautiful oceans and the gorgeous landscapes. Lastly, we strongly believe that the entire self-driving experience (pin pointing the GPS, asking strangers for directions, making random pit stops, constantly keeping an eye out for cameras and speed limits, and also getting lost at times) gave us a feel of that extra ‘localness’ which might not have been possible otherwise.
After a beautiful drive, we reached our first stop..
Delaire Graff known as “The Jewel of the Cape Winelands” is one of the most luxurious winelands of South Africa. The incredible views from this estate provide the perfect backdrop to the outstanding restaurants, state-of-the-art winery, exclusive Lodges, exuberant landscaping, and a luxurious Spa.
On entering the estate we were greeted by our wine-tasting tutor who took us around the estate and gave us a brief on the types of grapes, maturing seasons, fermentation techniques, etc. after which we were taken to their tasting room & restaurant “The Wine Lounge”. The Wine Lounge was a welcoming art-filled tasting space with lacquered floors, leading to floor-to-ceiling windows that created a perfect frame of the view. We felt that the outside terrace deck was the perfect place to relax and enjoy the view (and of course, the wine).
MIRINDA suggests! – We would recommend you to pre-book all the 3 estates if you are planning to do a day tour as they tend to get fully booked quickly. We were lucky enough to get the table but as per the locals, they pre book these places almost 2-3 months prior to their visit.
The wine tasting started off with 2 tasting options – First was the Basic option with 3 wine selections and second was their Signature option with 5 wine selections. We opted for both because we wanted to taste all their wines! The wine tutor made the session interactive by giving us a brief understanding of each type and later asking for our reviews on all of them. We were also served a cheese platter along with it and taught about pairing techniques of cheese and wine. Both of us had some basic knowledge about wines, but never understood wines in such detail as we did in Stellenbosch.
MIRINDA suggests! –Please bring along one of the signature wines from Delaire Graff. We bought one of their signature wines “The Delaire Graff White Reserve”. A must buy if you visit Delaire Graff. It’s the perfect Zesty citrus, lime and almond with layers of pineapple, passion fruit and gooseberries. A crisp, spicy taste adds to a long and lingering finish.
After a wonderful wine tasting, we headed our next stop for lunch…
MIRINDA fun facts! – All these 3 estates were located less than a kilometer away, so it can be managed in a day.
Tokara estate was a complete contrast from the earthy and woody architecture of Delaire Graff. Tokara is a much more upscale vineyard with out-of-this-world views, modern architecture with beautiful modern art installations and paintings amongst which nestled their restaurant “Tokara Restaurant”.
At first the staff was reluctant to give us a table but my (charmer) husband pulled “The Honeymoon” card out everywhere we went, so they offered us a table inside the restaurant.
MIRINDA suggests! –We did not get a table on the elevated deck outside the restaurant, but please pre-book this place and ask for their table outside. The view is just surreal.
The restaurant offers terroir focused contemporary cuisine, award-winning wines and dramatic views over Stellenbosch and False Bay. We were told that the à la carte menu changes every season, while daily specials offer something new and exciting to returning guests. The main attractions of this restaurant were its bar that has an unobstructed view of the hustle-bustle in the kitchen and the sunset view through a picture window.
The lunch started off with some freshly made bread served with fresh olives in olive oil, sun-dried tomato pesto and herb butter. We chose to order what the manager suggested from their signature lunch menu and I must say that whatever you order, you will not regret. Every dish was presented in a way that you would want to dig in!!!
After a gastronomic treat at Tokara, we drove to our last stop – Thelema, for some more wine!
Thelema known as the “Thelema Mountain Vineyards”, is an icon in the South African wine landscape and has been recently rated one of the world’s top 100 estates. It is situated on the spectacular Helshoogte Pass and is a family owned and managed estate. We drove past acres of land with vineyards surrounding us and after a drive of approximately 15-20 minutes around the vineyards, we reached the tasting room.
Compared to Delaire-Graff and Tokara, Thelema wasn’t a very luxurious place, but is known for its estate and wines. So, we had to try it ourselves to believe it. Personally we felt the wines were a tad better than the other two and so, we had to buy their signature wine “The Mint” Cabernet Sauvignon 2013.
Some people also prefer to stay a night or two at the amazing properties in the heart of the vineyards which offer wonderful wines amidst the abundant natural beauty.
After soaking in the wines for a bit, we drove back to our hotel.
Post a romantic and relaxing day, we decided to spend our evening at Camps bay.
Camps Bay is one of the most upscale areas of Cape Town. It starts as a spiral drive – from the hill going all the way down to the beach offering a view of Table Mountains on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. There are various villas located down the hill with the beach having a fancy mix of pubs, restaurants and shops.
We strolled around the beach for some time enjoying the strong ocean breeze under a warm sun. The beach was spotlessly clean with people exercising and tanning.
We took a seat at Cafe Caprice to enjoy our first Sunset view in South Africa (of course with a few cocktails to go with).
Café Caprice, located right on the beach, is well renowned amongst locals for its fancy cocktails, peppy crowd and great music. We ordered a few drinks, lit up a smoke and got lost in the infinity of the Ocean.
It is truly amazing how in the middle of a happening and bustling street, loud music and people dancing, when the sun started its descend over the edge of Ocean – time just stood still and I experienced that warm peace in my heart which no words can describe, but can only be felt.
MIRINDA suggests! – Do not miss the Passion fruit cocktail and grilled chicken burger at Café Caprice.
Post a few drinks, we walked towards Col’cacchio – A pizzeria located right next to Cafe Caprice.
Col’cacchio serves wood fired pizzas with choices of local beers and wines. We tried the Peroni draught beer, which is an absolute favourite there along with some mouth watering pizzas.
MIRINDA suggests! – We strongly recommend against drinking and driving. Instead opt for Uber or any other taxi service which offers extremely safe and cheap rides, cash payment options and advantages such as no hassle of finding parking spots.
After a mix of romantic, relaxing and fun filled day, we took an Uber back to our hotel “In high spirits” and called it a day.
Day 03 coming up next… follows us on www.mirindatravels.com to know more.