Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch Wine Country, Western Cape Province.  South Africa.

June 2012.

Wine-making has a long history in South Africa. Among the first European immigrants to South Africa were the French Huguenots, fleeing religious persecution in their home country in the 18th century. They brought with them their knowledge of wine-making, and South Africans have been making wine ever since. The Cape’s Mediterranean climate, with warm and dry summers and cool, rainy winters makes for excellent conditions in which to grow wine grapes. South Africa’s primary wine region is centered around Stellenbosch, a one-hour train ride from Cape Town.

When my brother Parker – better known in some places as Thabang – visited back in June, Stellenbosch was high on our list. While I spent my early 20s living in the Carolinas, drinking moonshine and cheap beer, my brother spent his 20s living in California, cultivating a sense for fine wine. So we made the trip out to Stellenbosch for a day, touring three wineries and learning about the process of making wine. As we drove from winery to winery, I spent most of my time in the front seat chatting with the driver, a grizzled old Coloured man who told me about his family and Coloured culture. Otherwise, the wine was great (at least, that’s what Parker tells me), the tour was informative, and the antics of the Australian exchange students getting more than their money’s worth out of the tastings were amusing.

We stayed at the Stumble Inn, an easy-going and affordable but helpful and well-furnished backpackers right downtown (021.887.4049). The tour was organized by Easy Rider Wine Tours, affiliated with the Stumble Inn (021.886.4651).

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