South Africa’s Wine

This morning at 8:45, we were waiting in the early morning sunshine on the street in front of the house. While we were waiting, a dog came trotting toward us for about half a block, very purposeful, like he was walking to work. He headed straight for Maria, who said, “don’t you pee on me!” And sure enough, he started to lift his hind leg. She kneed him, and he resumed his businesslike walk past us and on down the street. 

A few minutes later, a van picked us up, drove around town collecting the other five people, and off we went to the Stellenbosch wine region. One woman was an Indian from Johannesburg, and the rest were all from the Northeastern U.S. 

Our driver/guide was Dennis, an Afrikaner who took us to four wineries in the Stellenbosch region, about 45 minutes east of Cape Town.

From the industrial buildings on the outskirts and the smooth superhighways busy with late-model cars, it looked like we were in Europe. Cape Town would fit right in with any European city.

We stopped at 4 wineries and sampled 18 wines. Everyone in the group was a wine fan. Most of the white wines we tasted were sub-par, so it wasn’t difficult to dump the glass into the spit bucket after a sip or two. South Africa had its own grape, Pinotage, developed in the 1920s when someone crossed Pinot Noir with Hermitage. We had some decent Pinotages and one or two Cabernet Sauvignons that were fine, but most were Sauvignon Blanc, which we don’t like anyway, and which were pretty bad.

3+ centuries of prosperity on stolen land…

But far from being a bust, it was a really fun day. Lunch was good, the weather was sunny and cool, and the stories the hosts told at most of the vineyards were interesting. Each person in the group, including the driver, was a real character, and we spent much of the time laughing. We exchanged contact info and I’m fairly certain we’ll see one or another of them at our house sooner or later. Interestingly, all our traveling companions were people of color.

The last place we stopped had a shop with lots of good things to eat, so we bought bread, cheese and some ham for our dinner.

As a bonus, we don’t have to worry about shipping any bottles of wine home!