Exploring the Stellenbosch Valley: Day 1

October 21, 2015   /   bynatalie  / Categories :  Food & Wine, Uncategorized

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to join a few of my fellow wine and food-loving bloggers for a day out in the Stellenbosch Valley. We actually all spent some time discovering the delicious Helderberg in September, so it was a treat to be invited back, this time to explore a whole new sub-route of the Stellenbosch Wine Routes.

Did you know that what we normally refer to as just the Stellenbosch Wine Routes, are divided into five sub-routes; Bottelary Hills, Greater Simonsberg, Helderberg, Stellenbosch Berg and the Stellenbosch Valley.

The Stellenbosch Valley is described as “home to a myriad of well-known estates, private cellars, hotels and restaurants, and was crowned South Africa’s finest wine growing area at the Novare Terroir Wine Awards in 2012 and 2014. It has predominantly south-westerly aspects and, because of altitudes commonly higher than 200m, it is generally open to the cool south-westerly summer breezes originating from False Bay.”

Stellenbosch Valley is a sub-route of Stellenbosch Wine Routes and can be found west of Stellenbosch stretching around the Papegaaiberg (actually a hill) across the Stellenbosch Hills all the way from Zevenwacht then south to include Meerlust, Spier and other properties along the Baden Powell Drive (R310).

The Perfect Stellenbosch Valley Itinerary

DAY 1

Breakfast at The House of JC Le Roux

We started our weekend reeeaally early, with breakfast and bubbles at JC Le Roux on Thursday morning. I judge a place heavily on the quality of their Eggs Benedict and I’m pleased to announced that Le Venue serves an excellent one. We paired our breakfast with JC’s premium MCC, the Scintilla.

If you think JC Le Roux is all about sweet bubblies, you need to visit them immediately for a tasting of their range of MCC wines. (By the way, South Africa’s “MCC” wines are made in the exact same way that France’s Champagne wines? We’re just not allowed to call them Champagne because the name of the region is trademarked. MCC means Methode Cap Classique – in other words, made the classic way, here in the Cape)

Those who don’t have a sweet tooth will love the unique MCC and olive pairing, which really introduced me to a whole new side of JC Le Roux.

 

JC Le Roux

Never too early to start the weekend

Breakfast at JC Le Roux

Excellent

JC Le Roux Tasting Venue

JC Le Roux olive and wine pairing

MCC and olives, an unusual and delicious tasting

JC Le Roux olive and wine pairing

Beer Tasting at Stellenbrau

They say it takes a lot of beer to make a good wine. If that’s the case, we have a lot to thank Stellenbrau for.

I’m a big beer lover and as I’m sure you know, I’m really into learning about how beers and wines (and all other alcoholic treats) are made, so I loved my visit to the brewery. Here you can get a tour of the brewery, learn about how beer is made and taste the Stellenbrau range of beers. I particularly liked the lager, which is crisp and very refreshing. This is a great place to visit if you’ve had enough of wine for a while (how dare you?!).

Stellenbrau beer

Hops, water, etc

Stellenbrau beer tasting

Stellenbrau

Science!

Wine Blending and Boerebraai at Middelvlei Wines

Middlevlei is by far one of my favourite wine farms in Stellenbosch. It has a completely unpretentious vibe and serves seriously delicious food and wine. But my favourite part about the Middelvlei experience is that it’s managed by the owners, Ben and Jeanneret Momberg. These two are warm and friendly and welcoming. And their host of four dogs made even me, a bonafide cat-lover feel at home.

A visit to the farm should definitely include the wine blending experience, where you get to taste three red wines and blend them into what you think is going to be South Africa’s next top blend. After all the tasting and blending, they serve a hearty spread of traditional South African braai food. Braabroodjies (sandwiches on the bbq), lamb chops, boerewors, chicken skewers and my favourite, pumpkin fritters. I could easily have had a nap in the sun.

Middelvlei wine

Blue skies and red umbrellas make a pretty picture

Middelvlei wine blending

That’s not just the wine making us smile

Middelvlei Wine Blending

Pinotage, Shiraz and Merlot for blending

Leigh, from Pretty Mint Blog, living her best life

Leigh, from Pretty Mint Blog, living her best life

Spend the night at Wedgeview Country House & Spa

Set in probably one of the most picturesque corners of Stellenbosch is Wedgeview Country House & Spa. We arrived after a long day to glasses of chilled bubbly just as the sun was setting over the neighbouring wine farms and mountains. Beautiful!

I checked in and jumped straight into a hot bath. Is there anything better than a hot bath with a glass of wine? Probably not. Except dinner, which was delicious. I’m normally a bit skeptical of eating in-house at guesthouses, but Wedgeview served us a truly delicious dinner. And an epic breakfast spread.

Wedgeview is close enough to the Stellenbosch town and a few of the best wine farms in the region to be called “perfectly positioned”. I stayed in one of their suites, but their Presidential Suite left my mouth hanging open. Definitely dreaming of rounding up a few of my friends to spend the weekend tucked up there.

Cheers to you, Wedgeview

Cheers to you, Wedgeview

My idea of blissed out heaven

My idea of blissed out heaven

Wedgeview

Sunset at Wedgeview

The same view, at breakfast the next morning

The same view, at breakfast the next morning

Stay tuned for Day 2.

*My trip to the Stellenbosch Valley was arranged by Destinate and hosted by Stellenbosch Wine Routes. Obviously I don’t ever have to say anything I don’t want to.

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