Grape Town, South Africa
South African Wines: An Introduction
The Cape Winelands region is blessed with one of the best climates and topography for crafting fine wine: cool mountain and sea breezes combined with variable soil types that allow for the growing of a wide variety of grapes from Chardonnay to Pinot Noir. While the most popular wines in South Africa remain the whites, including Cape Riesling and Chenin, it is the Pinotgae, a mix of Pinot and Heritage grapes, that is the national specialty. Evidently Pinotage is a bit of an acquired taste; accordingly, exporters and importers are waiting to introduce this variety into U.S. markets until more mainstream South African wines have taken hold.
South Africa has 14 different traversable wine routes and over 2,000 varieties of wine to taste. While most visitors venture out to the wineland for day trips from Cape Town, you can spend many heady weeks tasting your way through the Cape.
South African Airways (27.11.978.5313; www.flysaa.com/) now offers direct flights from New York City's JFK Airport to Johannesburg. The flight is longÂ—a full 13 hoursÂ—but you are crossing an ocean and traveling into the Southern Hemisphere. Other airlines offer service to Cape Town, but the NY-to-Jo'berg flight is the most direct. Once in Jo'burg, it's a short domestic flight to Cape Town. From there, drive west to Stellenbosch or northwest to Paarl. U.S.-Based Outfitters
Cape Wineland Tours (606 University Place; Swarthmore, PA 19081; 888.868.7706; www.capewinetours.com) specializes in the wines of South Africa. Oenophiles and tried-and-true grape lovers can steep themselves in tastings and bask in viticultural talent at every turn. With entrÃ©e into private estates and personal meetings with winemakers and other experts, tour participants gain a real insight into the business of winemaking in this up-and-coming destination. Trips occur at scheduled times throughout the calendar year. Contact them for details on specific trips and pricing
Cape Town-based Ocean & Vine (P.O. Box 12989; Mowbray; 7705; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.wine.co.za) is run by local resident Wayne Donaldson, who specializes in custom tours of the Cape winelands. He can also arrange for fishing tours and other active explorations of the Cape Town region.
Other Useful Links
Franschhoek VallÃ©e Tourisme: www.franschhoek.org.za
Paarl Tourism: www.paarlonline.com
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication