The Whale and Wine Day tour is a full day of not only wine tasting. But, cider, craft beer, gin, and local foods as well. To make thing even better there was some whale-watching at Hermanus included as well. I am no expert in wine, and before this tour, I never gave it a chance. But it was a fantastic and educative day for me. The route was planned perfectly. I never had the feeling that we were driving for a long time. We stopped to have different tastings on the way to Hermanus. Every stop was diverse but equally exciting and amusing. Read more about my findings on this tour below.
This tour is a full day of wine and other tastings. Which means that we had to start early. We were picked up from Ashanti at 8:00 AM and started at Oom Samie Se Winkel (Uncle Sammy’s shop), which was an hour of driving. The store was founded in 1904 and has never changed ever since. It is an old Victorian building in Stellenbosch. But history is not what makes it exceptional. Because they sell uncommon sweets and snacks, such as butter churns, toffees, boiled sweets, and traditional biltong. After a quick visit to the store to get some snacks, we went to the first wine and food pairing.
The wine tasting was at a farm with beautiful scenery of landscapes and wine fields. After our guide explained to us which wine, we were going to taste as well as how to taste wine, we started to eat our chocolates combined with wine. I am no expert in wine, so an explanation on how to taste it was more than welcome. After a brief introduction of everyone on the group, we went for a tour through the cellars. Our guide explained the process and the necessity of oak barrels. Before, he let us taste the difference of a young and old wine, straight from the barrel. The owners of the cellar had left a barrel which had been forgotten for many years. After some experimentation, they have created a do-able taste out of this unique wine. Which was quite strong in alcoholic percentage and flavor due to the aging.
The next tasting was at a farm stall, where we tasted different ciders and local dishes. The farm is well known because of its high-quality and home-grown foods. The cider is made from the fruits of the farm, which give a rich and delicious flavor. Usually, a cider is diluted with water. However, these ciders are diluted with fruit juice, which empowers the taste. Because it was great weather, we had our tasting outside, with lovely views of the farms. We tasted the apple, pear, blueberry, and more ciders combined with homemade boerewors (sausage), meat pie, pecan pie, and cheesecake. All made from local resources.
Afterward, we left for another wine tasting in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. The wines from this farm are of award-winning quality. The farm is gorgeously decorated with glass windows, which provide a view into the cellars. We tasted many red wines of different age. Here we didn’t couple the wines with food but focused only on the flavor of the wines. Therefore, pecan nuts were provided to reset the taste for the different wines.
Later we arrived at Hermanus, which is a small town. But, well known for its high population of whales during whale season. This season is from July to December, and they come close to the shore to breed. As soon as we arrived at the look-out, whales started to appear. Our guide provided us some binoculars to see them in more details. But you don’t need them as they are clearly visible from the shore. The whales breached out of the water numerous times. Leaving a satisfying splash as their bodies crashed back into the sea. Something I couldn’t understand was the fact that people were more interested in the dassies (Rock Rats) than the breaching whales. Those Guinea pigs like rats ran around the look-out spot, begging for food from the tourists. Even though they have a funny appearance. The spectacular whales demanded more of my attention.
While we were distracted by the whales and dassies, it was time for lunch and our group headed to the nearby restaurant for battered hake, calamari, and fries. The chef made us a drink, which was a kind of warm wine similar to the German glühwein. And it tasted delicious. The lunch was fantastic as well. When we were finished, we quickly went back to spot some more whales. Before leaving to the final tasting experience at a craft beer and gin brewery.
The route from Hermanus to the brewery was along the Clarence Drive. This route is among the top 10 scenic routes in the world. The road goes through small towns with breathtaking views of the coast. At the brewery, we had a brief tour about the process of brewing beer as well as the process of making gin. The gin they made was put together with blueberries, which gave it a pink color and more taste. The gin they make is more experimental. But you can buy it at the brewery. After the tour, we started tasting craft beers. The beers had unique flavors ranging from fruity flavors to a coffee flavor.
From there, we headed back home, and because it was a long day of intensive drinking and tasting. Most of us couldn’t stay awake. The full-day whale and wine tour was as adventurous as delicious with high-quality wines, astonishing scenery, and wildlife. Even though I had no experience of drinking wine or knowledge about it. I had a wonderful day.