On Monday the 17th of August, Tyrone and Florian were sent by the Ashanti Travel Centre to experience the “Travel With Andre” Wine tasting tour.
At 9:00am, Mathew Kruger, one of the guides for “Travel with Andre” arrived at Ashanti Lodge Garden to pick Tyrone and Flo up. After been introduced to the other guests who will spend the day with them, they took the direction of “Babylonstoren”, the first wine farm on the tour. The forty five minutes drive to the place was very quiet and serene so our guide Mat was able to explain the planning of the day. On the way, Mathew gave some history of places we drove by: wine farms and wine industry started in 1659 in Pearl by Germans.
At 10:30am, our group arrived at Babylonstoren for the first wine tasting of the day (yes, at 10:30). Mathew presented the Babylonstoren farm and the staff before showing us around.
Babylonstoren’s farm was created in 1692, when the borders of the Cape Colony expanded after the arrival of French Huguenots, the farm was granted by Governor Simon Van Der Stel to the burger Pieter Van Der Byl. He laid out the first vineyards and altered water courses to provide irrigation. Today, the farm is producing and selling 7 different wines: Viognier 2015, Shiraz 2013, Nebukadnesar 2013, Mourvèdre Rosé 2015, Chardonnay 2013, Chenin Blanc 2015 and Babel Red 2014. We were seated at the two tables where the worker poured some of the Chenin Blanc in our glasses. Our first glass was amazing and put us in a dreamy mood.
After our wine tasting, we chose one case of the wine we preferred and visited the farm shop where we found a lots of homemade products: jams, olive tapanade and warm bread.
Every member of the group bought a nice bread so we ate our bread breakfast while walking around the property. Babylonstoren produce their own fruits and vegetables. Any guest can pick anything they like, bring it to the kitchen and the farm’s staff can cook it for them.
We then took our shuttle to the top of a hill where we could take pictures of the beautiful valley. Mathew took out Champagne and glasses and asked a guest to open the bottle in a French way: sabrage. We took a lot of pictures before taking the direction of Rainbow’s End, a farm at the top of a mountain.
The road was chaotic to go there and as the day was “going”, the sun was shining more and more, the wine was taking effect, so the ambiance in our shuttle started to be more friendly and relaxed. We had the time to know each other better and discuss about the tour. We arrived at Rainbow’s end around 12:00PM and we could enjoy the amazing view of the mountain.
Jana, the farm’s host, took us to the garage where they produce the wine, told us the history of the farm and showed us how wine is produced at Rainbow’s End: “With the launch of its maiden vintage – Rainbow’s End Shiraz 2002 the estate began to live up to these expectations.
The promise of Rainbow’s End is in its fertility and climate. Situated on high-lying slopes, rising to 540m above sea level, the estate backs on to the Jonkershoek Mountain and overlooks the prized and productive Banghoek basin, which is encircled by mountains.” ( http://rainbowsend.co.za/whats-in-a-name, Rainbow’s end website, 2015)
Then, Jana took the group to the barrels rooms and explained how the wine is put in barrels by date/name, where they have to keep a temperature of 27C for the red wine. We had the opportunity to taste the Shiraz 2013 before Jana took us to the balcony where Mathew waited for us with a plate of Brie, Camembert and Biltong to go with our wine tasting. We then tried the Cabernet Franc 2013 and compared it with the Shiraz we had previously.
After resting for a couple of minutes on the terrace, we sat enjoying the view before saying goodbye to Jana. We stopped at the entry of the property to take a picture of the group before taking the shuttle to go eat.
Mathew didn’t tell us the direction and surprised us by taking our group in a calm and peaceful wood where Andre, the owner of the “Travel With Andre” tour, was waiting for us with beautiful tables set and food ready. The menu of the day was healthy and various: salad, tomatoes, bread, chicken and sausage.
We had the time to discuss about the tour with Andre and he presented his goals and expections for this tour.
We thank Andre for the Braai and took the direction of our last farm for the last wine tasting of the day. We drove 5 minutes and arrived at Stark- Condé Farm. As soon as we got out of the car, we realized that the view was astonishing: a little house in a middle of a lake overlooking the mountain.
We sat at a table and tasted the Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 first while our host was explaining that Stark-Condé Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are made from carefully selected vineyard blocks on their property in Jonkershoek Valley. This year they have also released their first estate white: The Field Blend, a blend of Roussanne, Chenin Blanc, Viognier and Verdelho. We then tasted the Syrah 2013 which was delicious.
The weather was really nice and the sun was shining a lot so we had the time to rest a couple of minutes in the grass, in front of the mountain.
To end the day, Mathew offered us to go to take an ice cream at Hudson in Stenllenbosch. We discussed about the tour and enjoyed our desert before Mat took us home.
Tyrone and I had a wonderful day and enjoyed all the farms we went to; we were able to taste wine that we don’t usually drink and take pictures of awesome places. We came back to Ashanti Lodge Garden with great memories and hoped to go on the Travel with Andre tour again soon!