Dave and I went on an all-day wine-tasting adventure to three different regions near Cape Town. The wine was lovely but the most interesting thing about the day was the fascinating people we got to know at each of our tasting sites.
Our first visit was to the beautiful Simonsig Wine Estate run by the Malan family in Stellenbosch.
We drank four wines here and enjoyed lovely trays of olives, cheeses, bread and spreads.
Let me introduce Charlotte, a 30-something insurance agent from Johannesburg who was in Cape Town on a holiday with her partner a food technologist. She told us she met him at a funeral. There wasn’t enough room at our table for him so he had to sit elsewhere.
The woman to the right of Charlotte is Alice an 80-something retired teacher and grandmother from Rochester New York who left her husband at home while she went off to explore South Africa.
They were dynamos both of them and we had a fabulous conversation while we sipped our wine and nibbled on our tray of appetizers.
I found out Alice had fundraised and taken her New York high school students on trips to Ghana and Senegal for several decades and had done mission work in Haiti for twelve years with her husband. She had travelled all over the world and was in South Africa with her two daughters. One was going shopping and the other was going kayaking but Alice decided she’d rather drink wine instead.
I found out Charlotte worked for a company from Australia that had an office in Johannesburg. They went online during the pandemic. Charlotte grew up in one of South Africa’s townships and it was a difficult road to get through high school and university so she could land her current job. She told us about the sad state of public health care and education in South Africa. Like many young South Africans we met, she would be interested in immigrating to another country.
Alice and Charlotte and I laughed and talked non-stop so I am not sure exactly which four wines we tasted at this first stop although I think one was a Sheraz and another a Gewurztraminer.
And what was Dave doing while I chatted with Charlotte and Alice? He was talking rugby and Brexit and all kinds of other topics with Mel and Paul a couple from a small community near Birmingham England where Paul was a truck driver and Mel a teacher.
Before we left Stellenbosch our wine tour guide Charles took us on a walk through the town.
I was most fascinated by an artwork created by Strijdom van der Merwe. It was a laser-cut silhouette of Nelson Mandela’s face which upon closer examination morphed into a map which plotted locations in South Africa that played important roles in Nelson Mandela’s life. I thought it was both meaningful and sad that a homeless person was asleep beside the art piece.
Then we were off to the Franschhoek area. The scenery along the way was amazing. You wanted to take photos every couple of minutes.
Our second wine-tasting stop was the Franschhoek Cellar
I had learned my lesson at the first winery where I was so busy talking I forgot to take note of the wines we were drinking so here I took photos of the wines right away so I would remember them. Good thing I did that before Dave and I got deep in conversation about military service, chocolate, beer, geography, sports cars and families with, ……..
Michael and Nikolai two graduate students from Switzerland and before I dug into …..
the delightful chicken, nectarine and feta salad I choose from the lunch menu.
As we left the Franschhoek Cellar tasting room Dave took up an ongoing conversation he had all day with a young paramedic from London, Ontario.
After some free time to explore the lovely little community of Franschhoek, we were off to our last stop in the Paarl wine region where we visited the Rhebokskloof winery.
Here each of our five wines was paired with a different delicious chocolate.
Our hostess used Dave as an example of how to lay out each chocolate from our individual boxes with the correct wine.
She rewarded him with a hug when he completed the task correctly.
After our tasting, I went to the wine shop to buy some chocolates and when I came back Dave was leading the conversation at our table with a government employee from Johannesburg, a family from Germany and a car dealership owner from Switzerland.
I don’t know if you are counting but by the time our wine tour was over we had tasted 13 different kinds of wine but…….. we’d had fascinating conversations with even more people than that from all over the world……… and that’s what made the wine tour a BIG success both in my books and Dave’s.
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