Since the time it was founded in 1652, the city of Cape Town has always had a penchant for fine food and wines. This has been a tradition it has kept to this day with fabulous wines and eclectic cuisine.
Cape Town is located in South Africa’s Western Cape Province. The city is home to over 250 wine estates. The wine estates ownership is varied with individuals, families and co-operatives all having their own piece of wine farms. Most of Cape Town’s wine estates are located in the Stellenbosch area.
Cape Town’s vineyard tours offers a true ‘Grape to Grass’ experience from grape growing, wine making to wine tasting.
Coming to this fantastic part of the world, you will be able to do vineyard tours exploring some of the popular brands synonymous with giving the world an astonishing range of quality wines including Middelvlei, Van Ryn’s Brandy, The House of JC Le Roux, Fleur du Cap, Kleine Zalze and Neethlingshof. During your vineyard tours, you will cover large tracts of land mostly gentle slopes and large shallow valleys which offer a great viewing spectacle of the rising and falling grape plant. You will get to taste while learning more on the pinot noir, phoenix and chardonnay grapes, three of the most popular type of grapes grown in Cape Town.
Most wine estates have their own wineries thus from the vineyard you will proceed to the wineries. Cape Town produces white wine, red wine, sparkling wine and champagne together with ciders. These are housed in different wine cellars from one wine estate to the other. However, the most popular of the wine cellars here are aboveground cellars or wine rooms though there are a few wine estates which have underground cellars. Wineries in Cape Town mostly preserve wine in barrels and bottles with a very few preserving in carboys, amphorae and plastic containers.
One of the most fascinating parts in being a food tourist in Cape Town is in tasting wine. With over 250 wine estates, each offering a tutored tasting experience (from learning words which will make you look like a pro e.g. Bung, Thief, Cooperage to distinguishing wines by the acidic value, aeration, aftertaste, aggressiveness, aroma, astringent and bitterness among many others), you will certainly leave this great place a wine tasting expert.
The learning part does not end with wine tasting; you can get to know the past life of the wine makers through an audio walk. At Spier Estate, there is a special learning platform called the Gables Audio Walk which will recreate a fictional account of life in a wine farm of the years gone by. Tales of slaves before, during and after slavery are also reconstructed and told.
At Van Ryn Distillery, you get to learn barrel making skills from craftsmen as they make all sorts of barrels. The most popular being barrels made from French Oak.
In rounding off your wine travel experiences, make a date to pass through Tokara where you will get to appreciate art as artists transform wine into art through their paintbrushes.
Apart from wines, Cape Town offers a range of eclectic cuisine. Among the delicacies that you must taste include the skopo, amadumbe and snoek braai. Indulge yourself in great South African delicacy as Xhosa ‘mammas’ prepare and serve you the traditional skopo (sheep head). The skopo dish is a grilled sheep head. Often, it is spiced for taste, skopo is delicious and sticky. Amadumbe are sweet potatoes which can be boiled in their skin, used to make mash or fried for chips. The favourite amadumbe recipe for South Africans that you will also definitely love is the one in which sweet potatoes are boiled, mashed with butter, sprinkled with roasted peanuts and topped off with a squirt of honey.
Snoek braai is a traditional South African dish of barbequing fish. A snoek braai normally involves quite a considerable number of people socialising out in the sun sharing drinks and delicious portions of barbequed fish. Butter, lemon or apricots are mostly used as marinade. This is definitely one dish you cannot afford not to miss when you come down to the Cape.
Rounding off your trip, you need to let yourself taste South Africa’s traditional opaque beer, “umqombothi.” The beer is brewed using the highest grade millet or sorghum. The millet or sorghum is mixed with maize meal, yeast and water and left for around 5 days of fermentation after which an appetising and highly intoxicating drink is ready for consumption.
For those who prefer a less intoxicating drink, you can try “mageu,” a mixture of flour or maize meal, water and yeast. “Mageu” has a sourly taste but it is quite refreshing.