Discovering the HelderbergSeptember 2, 2015 / bynatalie / Categories : Food & Wine, Travel, Uncategorized
I recently had the opportunity to spend two days in the Helderberg region of the Stellenbosch Wine Route. You may have noticed that I spend a lot of time exploring Stellenbosch, so I know the region quite well, but this was my first time at a couple of the farms we visited. I also got to re-visit a couple of my absolute favourites.
I was with a great group of people, including Carlinn from Superficialgirl and her talented photographer boyfriend Mike aka The Lawry, Dee from The Good Holiday, Tahlia from Too Much Loveliness, Lauren Fowler from Lost is A Place Too, Leigh from Pretty Mint, Louzel from Traveller24 and Instagrammer Alfred Thorpe aka Vuurtoring. Have a look at some of the stunning photos they took along the way.
I decided to shoot a little bit of video footage between the photos I was taking and I cut together these two little videos on my phone, using Vimeo’s video editing app Cameo. (A lot of people think making video is really hard, but if you’re just planning on making something fun and engaging for social media or your blog, this is a great app!)
Peter Falke Wines
We started the day on Thursday with a wine tasting and snack platters at Peter Falke Wines. It was my first time visiting this beautiful farm and I’m so bleak I haven’t been there hundreds of times before! I will really have to make up for it this summer. The day was sunny and beautiful and it really felt like spring was in the air.
Peter Falke makes some beautiful wines and two of my favourites were the Blanc de Noir (a seriously gorgeous pink wine) and the Pinot Noir. They also serve stunning platters of meats and cheeses and they stay open until 7pm every day!
Longride Wine Farm
Our next stop was Longridge Wine Farm, which was another first for me. We started off our visit with a vineyard tour on the back of a tractor – fun for a bunch of city slickers. The farm practises very natural farming methods and we spotted some beautiful nguni cows grazing between the vines. It was so funny watching everyone cautiously sidle up to the cows to get some pictures. I’m mostly scared of any big animals, so I stayed quite far away, but they did make for some great photographs.
After our vineyard tour it was time for some serious wine tasting. We sat down to the most amazing food and wine pairing tasting experience I’ve ever had. It is seriously next level! Six wines are paired with six perfectly matched little bites, including things like a tiny mouthful of trout jelly and deep friend pasta with strong cheese. And it only costs R65 which is a major win! I can’t wait to go back to eat at their restaurant! I also couldn’t leave before buying a case of their Emily Chardonnay Pinot Noir blend.
After all that eating and wine drinking it was time for some walking… and wine drinking. At Avontuur Estate we got to meet a few new born foals who basically had us melting with their cuteness. These beautiful and perfect little foals have been born to prize racehorses, so it’s no wonder that despite being only a few days old, they were already racing around the paddocks like old pros.
After watching the foalies run around and be tucked up in bed for the night, we visited the tasting room to try the farm’s wines. The winemaker, Jan van Rooyen was infinitely patient with us as he took us through his range of wines. After spending the whole day tasting, we were quite chatty, but Jan gave us great insights into his wines and his way of winemaking. I left with another case of wine – this time also Chardonnay Pinot Noir. (I think pink wine is my thing right now)
The Country Guest House
After a long day of winelandsing, we finally checked into the quaint Country Guest House, where we were spending the night. My room was huge, with a private patio and a view of Table Mountain, which I would get to see the next morning. Because it was dark when we arrived and we left pretty early, I didn’t get any pictures, so check out the website to see the rooms and rates.
96 Winery Road
This is actually one of my favourite laid-back winelands restaurants. The food at 96 Winery Road is delicious and hearty and their wine list is great! I had a risotto starter followed by the famous (and ridiculously delicious Hollandse peppered fillet and finished off with a trio of deserts. Read that again. A trio of desserts. Crème brûlée, peanut butter ice cream and something incredibly chocolatey. Seriously, the food is good, old-fashion YUM! If you have a picky eater in the family (hi dad!), this should be your go-to restaurant.
Ken Forrester Vineyards
We started off Friday morning with a 9:30am wine tasting at Ken Forrester, home of what I like to think of as the world’s best Chenin Blanc. I have long been a fan of Chenin Blanc, which used to be a popular blending wine, but has finally found its rightful place in the spotlight. Ken Forrester himself is known as the King of Chenin and I think the FMC is his crowning glory.
It was pretty early for a wine tasting, so I hope to go back soon for some relaxing in the sun with a few bottles of wine. Unfortunately I didn’t get many pictures here either, since the weather was kind of gloomy.
Although I’ve had the opportunity to eat at Waterkloof Wines a few times, I’d never been on one of their bio-dynamic farm tours, which I’ve heard a lot about. Part of the reason I have so much respect for Waterkloof is because of the respect they have for nature. Their entire ethos is about embracing what nature has given them and putting as much into the land as they take out.
We hopped on the back of a tractor for a tour that took us around the whole farm, where we learned about the many different ways Waterkloof is going back to basics in terms of using natural resources to work their land and grow their grapes. If you’re interested in bio-dynamic farming principles and want to know more, read all about it on their website here.
We had an amazing lunch, paired with the wines we had gained a new respect for after learning about the love and thoughtfulness that goes into growing and making them. I always say that Waterkloof is unmissable and I will say it again – Waterkloof is unmissable. Such a gem in every way.
This is another one of my favourite farms. Not only is it beautiful with excellent wines on offer, but it’s really diverse. There are amazing wine pairings to choose from, there’s a weekend market, they make chocolate and roast coffee; it’s basically a destination in itself.
We ended off our Helderberg odyssey with a delicious Turkish delight and wine pairing. It was the perfect sweet “so long” to the region and start to the weekend. But before we left, we popped off for a sneaky beer at the newly opened Abru, on the property. Check it out if you like beer as much as you like wine.
If you’ve never wandered into the Helderberg, I hope I’ve given you enough reasons to venture out there as soon as possible!