Two Day Cape Winelands excursion

On a recent tailor-made 2 Day wine tour with British and American clients we visited our usual favourites in Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl and Wellington. Fantastic cabs and unbelievable scenery at Stark Conde, the legendary “Chocolate Block” at Boekenhoutskloof, the ever-popular Pinotage at Diemersdal and the amazing wine and cheeses at Fairview were just a few of the highlights.

But i must make mention of Topsi’s restaurant in Franschhoek. My clients felt like no thrills, no fuzz good food, so I took them to Topsi’s and that is exactly what they got. They were so impressed with their dinner that they insisted that we have breakfast there the following morning. If you looking to have good wholesome food at a reasonable price, Topsi’s is for you.

We also managed to squeeze in the impressive Vrede en Lust estate. Their wines are top-notch and the ladies in the tasting room are super friendly and helpful making it well-worth a visit.

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Luhambo Tours’ recent visit to La Motte

Last week was the first time during our Stellenbosch-Franschhoek Wine Tour that we visited the La Motte wine estate outside Franschhoek since they renovated their tasting room. Well, we were not disappointed.

The changes that they made are absolutely amazing and my clients where blown away by the beauty of the place and the fantastic wines on offer. La Motte will definitely become on of the regular stops on Luhambo Tours’ wine tours.

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Driving through the Darling, Swartland and Tulbagh wine regions

We at Luhambo Tours recently put together a self drive wine tour for clients from the UK who have visited Cape Town on numerous occasions. They were very familiar with the South African wines from Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek so they were eager to visit a couple of wine routes and estates off the beaten track. The 4 day itinerary took them through the Darling, Swartland and Tulbagh wine regions.

Most foreigners and even many locals are only familiar with wines from the Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and perhaps Constantia.

Well, they were pleasantly surprised and could not stop talking about the fantastic wines that they had sampled over the duration of the four days. They could not believe that so few people visited the fantastic estates in these picturesque areas.

Our clients were particularly impressed with Groote Post in the Darling area as well as Kloovenburg in Riebbeek-Kasteel and Twee Jonge Gezellen in Tulbagh.

It got me thinking as to why we don’t go to these regions more often. They are all within easy reach from Cape Town and are a perfect weekend get-away if you want to loose the crowds and the stress of the city. There are plenty of guest houses and farms to choose from and some fantastic country restaurants to tickle your taste-buds.

Go out there and explore these little gems. Summer is in full swing and the ‘Vaalies’ have gone home, so enjoy our beautiful Cape.

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South African Wine & Dine along Route 62 and the Garden Route, Part 2

…Up bright and early the next morning and it was full steam ahead to Cape Agulhas, the most Southerly Tip of Africa. Unfortunately the weather did not play along and the vicious south easterly wind nearly blew us back to where we came from.

So we thought that we would make the best of the lousy weather and visit a couple of more wine estates. Raka near Stanford are without a doubt one the best kept secrets in the entire region. They simply produce great wines at great prices: Biography, Figurehead and Quinary to name but a few. Give them a try and you will not be sorry.

We stayed over in Hermanus for the night but regrettably the whales seem to have already left the bay. But on the up side the dinner at Mediterrea restaurant was really good.

The Walker Bay wine region is surprisingly low key as most people go to Hermanus on holiday and to see the whales. But very few actually realise what fantastic wine estates and restaurants are on their doorstep. Do yourself a favour and take a slow drive along the R320, the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley road to be more precise. We spent the day visiting various wine estates and had an amazing lunch at Heaven Restaurant@Newton Johnson!

The wines that we tasted at Hermanuspietersfontein, Newton Johnson, Bouchard Finlayson and Creation where out of this world.

The food pairing menu at Creation was probably the highlight of the day. I wish that more estates would offer this option as it is the perfect way to enjoy their wines.

Unfortunately all good things come to an end as we made our way back to the Mother City. All in all we had a brilliant time even though the weather didn’t always play along.

Take care and have a fantastic festive season and please don’t drink and drive.

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South African Wine & Dine along Route 62 and the Garden Route, Part 1

Recently I had the chance to break with the daily routine and take customers for a bit of sight-seeing along the Route 62 and parts of the Garden Route for a couple of days.

But first we made a quick stop in Franschhoek and visited a couple of my old favourites. We popped into Boekenhoutskloof and enjoyed their fantastic ‘Chocolate Block’ red blend followed by dinner at the cozy Haute Cabriere Cellar Restaurant. My clients enjoyed the ‘Gourmet Tasting Menu’ which they said was delicious and also great value for money in comparison to what many of the other restaurants in town were charging. The Chardonnay-Pinot Noir blend and the Pinot Noir are well worth trying.

The following morning we headed out to Robertson, along Route 62, one of the most underrated wine regions of South Africa.

We sampled some great MCC, ‘bubbly’ at Graham Beck and the Pheasants Run is also one of my favourites. Passing through Robertson without visiting Klipdrift Brandy Distillery is a crime! You simply have to drop into the cellar and enjoy some of South Africa’s finest. The premier brandy is serious good value for money and their complimentary brandy and ginger ale is surprisingly good. If you have time on your hands stay for lunch as their hamburgers are legendary.

Further stops at Springfield and Zandvliet wine cellars was the perfect way to round off the day. I must mention that the ‘Work of Time’ red blend and the ‘Life From Stone’ Sauvignon Blanc from Springfield are top class wines. Zandvliet on the other hand have brilliant Shiraz and their ‘My Best Friend’ range is very difficult to beat when it comes to value for money.

Dinner was at the fabulous La Sosta Restaurant in Swellendam. There is a reason why it is fully booked every night. The food is absolutely amazing, the most authentic Italian food you will find anywhere outside of Italy… (end of part 1)

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The new John Platter Guide to South African Wine is here!

John Platter’s, South Africa’s favourite wine guide, is back with a new “green” 2011 edition packed with news, reviews and ratings of more than 800 producers and brands, including 58 newcomers, and well over 6,000 locally grown wines.

Fully updated notes on the major winegrowing regions, grape varieties, winemaking styles, winetasting terms, and the major wine competitions and awards, as well as listings of fine-wine stockists and wine education providers country-wide, round out the wide-ranging Platter’s offering.

A highlight of any new edition is the five-star line-up – the exceptional bottlings which emerge from a second round of tasting with the judging team’s highest rating on the Platter’s scale of 0 – 5 stars. This edition a record 58 wines made the five-star cut, including 10 by established producers with no previous five-star awards, namely Delaire Graff Estate, Hermanuspietersfontein, Julien Schaal, Lammershoek Winery, Reyneke Wines, Shannon Vineyards, StellenRust, Strandveld Wines, Topiary Wines and Zevenwacht, and one newcomer to the guide, Botanica Wines.
Of the five-star awarded wines, the red and white which receive the most votes from the judging panel are named Platter’s Wines Of The Year. This time the Red Wine Of The Year is De Trafford Shiraz 2008, described as “pure hedonism” and promising outstanding development over the next decade, whilst the White Wine Of The Year is Fleur du Cap Bergkelder Selection Noble Late Harvest 2009, made from mainly chenin blanc and noted as “arresting”, with astounding balance of ripe fruit and crisp acidity.                                                                 Source (and read more): Platter’s Wine Guide

Luhambo Tours offers daily wine tours in Cape Town, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek to experience these award-wining South African wines.

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Music and Wine: Prime Circle at Rhebokskloof Wine Estate in Paarl

Before the concert at Rhebokskloof wine estate

We at Luhambo Tours love wine, and unfortunately we are not often enough able to go to Rhebokskloof in Paarl during our wine tours in Cape Town and  the Cape Winelands. Last Friday (12 November) however, we had the chance to see South Africa’s best band (at least that’s our opinion), Prime Circle, at this beautiful vineyard just outside Paarl. Some people might know it as a popular location for wedding functions – it turned out that it is perfect for concerts too!

The stage was set in front of the dam and although it got quite cold that night, everyone

Prime Circle's lead singer Ross Learmonth

enjoyed good wine, a nice picnic and Prime Circle’s fantastic music. They played a lot of songs from their new album “Jekyll & Hyde” including their huge hit “Breathing” but also music from their previous CDs. If you haven’t bought their new album yet, go out and do so -it’s brilliant, and by the way shot to Gold status within 9 days after being launched.

Prime Circle's Ross Learmonth

With regards to the wine, we started with the Savignon Blanc from Rhebokskloof’s Pearlstone range which was not quite to our liking. However, we were positively surprised when we moved on to the Pearlstone Shiraz which we really enjoyed.

Altogether, it was a brilliant night out, and we would definitely return to Rhebokskloof for more concerts and wine tastings!

Prime Circle during the concert

The Prime Circle concert

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