Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Stellenbosch – Cape Town’s wine heritage


In my first visit to Cape Town, I was tied down to the downtown with a distant view of Table Mountain. Naturally, when I saw expansive terrain of Johannesburg – I was little generous in elevating this city over Cape Town – much to the chagrin of South Africans. This time, I stayed at the Somerset west - the country side of the Cape Town – and toured along the vineyards at Stellenbosch, had dinner in African settings at Moyo.

I was quick to realize my earlier folly. First Impression is definitely not the lasting impression; Cape Town can match any other spectacular place on Mediterranean. No wonder Europeans who arrived decided to stay put!!!

I was being driven along Stellenbosch Wine Routes, one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Western Cape. It has more than 200 wine and grape producers and considered as the second oldest town in South Africa with most winery façade as Cape Dutch buildings. All around Stellenbosch lies in a fertile green valley surrounded by vineyards, orchards with a backdrop of range of mountains. Stellenbosch is also known as "Eikestad" - town of oaks. One of the winery posters made me realize why in certain areas wineries are found. This is a belt above and below the equator that has this mild Mediterranean climate with hot summer’s rainy winters. California, France, Greece, Cyprus. Italy and Cape Town falls into the zone. (I was disappointed to see Nasik not being part of it!!). The Stellenbosch valley offers superb scenic views over mountains, vineyards and orchards covered with wild flowers in spring. The magnificent mountains peaks ranges reach heights of 1600 meters and form a spectacular backdrop to the town. Stellenbosch is very international place full of tourists who stroll along oak lined streets soak in the atmosphere of and enjoy relishing seafood with wine in Open-air restaurants amidst African settings. During one such dinner, I became enchanted with Raka red wine. Visiting Stellenbosch reminded me of Frieberg close to Black forest in Germany. Both have famous university.

Moyo restaurant at Spier – close to Stellenbosch is a magical dining experience under a starlit sky in the company of African dancers and musicians. Main restaurant is inside huge Bedouin tent with face-painters decorate guests' faces with traditional white dots. Buffet is a huge spread many African dishes ranging from variety of breads to ostrich kebabs. It was biting cold and I had to spend all my time next to bonfire to enjoy the ambience.

Unfortunately, weather being cloudy and rainy, I couldn’t visit the top of table mountain by cable car. But next time, it’s definitely on the agenda alongwith a visit to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Agulhas where the Indian and the Atlantic 'meet'. Driving along the garden route to Port Elizabeth is also another dream.

1 Comments:

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