27th of September, 2006. We used the Vinehopper to visit the following five wineries. It is a hop-on hop-off tour, as you see in the link, but as we were the only two on the tour that day, we didn't have to follow the schedule exactly. So in reality, we had our own private chauffeur. For the price of a hop-on hop-off minibus. That was very nice because we could visit the wineries at our own pace.
They have a very nice rosé, and one of their reds was quite nice. They have a lovely garden, where you can have a picnic under a weird umbrella. Wouldn't you love to have a back yard like that? *sigh* :) They also have a mini game park on their grounds, with zebras, springbok, ostriches, etc.
We did 2 different kinds of tasting here. The first one was a wine and cheese tasting. And then a “regular” tasting of five wines, though not the same wines that were with the cheese.
The wine and cheese pairings were as follows:
1. Spier Classic Merlot 2004/5 with Fairview White Rock with Cranberries.
2. Spier Classic Shiraz 2004 with Dutch Old Master
3. Spier Discover Sweet 2005 with Cape Salut with a sultana and peppadew compote.
All the wines were given a :-)+ rating while all the cheeses got a :-D As I mentioned in another post, the cheeses here are so gooooooooooooooooood... And as you can see in the photo, even Mini Wolfgang was enjoying all the good wine and cheese action!
We were given a pamphlet about the wines and cheeses for the tasting; it has some information about how to match wine and cheese. I'll post that information somewhere, someday...
Spier is very “commercial” and “touristy,” but nonetheless an interesting place with excellent wines. Aside from the wines, you can do cool things like the Eagle Encounters (excellent for people like me who dig birds of prey)...
Or you could visit the Cheetah Outreach program, where you can pet a live cheetah!
Haskell (formerly Dombeya)
We tasted some wonderful white wines here and ended up buying a chardonnay. We also had lunch on the patio of their restaurant, overlooking some beautiful scenery, and enjoyed a bottle of their lovely shiraz 2003 (since we weren't allowed to try it during the tasting – big mistake on their side as this is a wine people would want to buy once they know what it tastes like) along with our very tasty lunch.
(btw - wine tasting notes and food review will be posted in the future.)
This was the biggest pleasant surprise, as Bilton is a small winery and relatively unknown, especially when compared to places like Boschendal, Spier and Fairview. I'm glad they were on the tour; there's nothing wrong with the über-touristy wine estates per se, but it's also fun giving the new, not-so-established places a chance. I've already written a little bit about Bilton.
By now, we were a bit tipsy, but we were able to acknowledge that this winery had some really nice white wines. The 2006 Sauvignon blanc was especially noteworthy. I've heard (after our return home of course! Hmmf!) that the restaurant here is quite amazing... maybe we'll try it next time we're in the area :-)