Stellenbosch wine route: Bottelary road
Continuing from my previous posting dated 28 February, this is the second installment of my must-visit wine farms in Stellenbosch. In today’s blog, I am concentrating on farms within the Bottelary hills sub-region of Stellenbosch. Bottelary rd may not have the dramatic scenery you will find elsewhere in Stellenbosch but boy, does it have some hidden gems, first class wines, and a more relaxed less touristy wine experience!
Hartenberg is not only one of my favorite farms in the Bottelary hills but in the whole winelands; their wines are exceptionally good. Known for their Shiraz, they also produce top-notch Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and red blends.
The farm is probably one of the prettiest in the area and offers a restaurant and picnic area, which caters very much for families, with a kids jungle gym, slide, sand pit, and trampoline. They are offering food and wine pairings this winter and also host the annual Riesling Festival, which sees several top producers get together to showcase this often neglected cultivar.
Kaapzicht, meaning “Cape View”, is an unassuming working wine farm with a long history of making great wine notably Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, red blends and Chenin Blanc but that is not all they excel at. The Steytlers have been farming this 190-hectare farm since 1946 and the whole family, three generations worth and all their partners are all somehow involved in the business. Their flagship Steytler range of wines includes a Pinotage made from a 41-year-old vineyard and has received numerous local and international awards over the years. All wines other than their Cape Vintage (Port) are estate wines and you can typically expect to taste full bodied, well balanced fruity red wines, a few interesting white and dessert wines, and a 10 year old Potstill brandy.
From Kaapzicht continue further up the dirt road, far up into the hills until you reach Mooiplaas wine estate and private nature reserve. Here you will find a little piece of heaven that not many know about. Converted stables make up the tasting room and the surrounding gardens are a haven for birds and squirrels. Picnics can be pre-ordered to enjoy in the gardens and special long-table dinners are arranged from time to time by the Roos family. Mooiplaas produce a number of red wines in varying styles and price categories but it is their Chenin that makes this a must visit, both the Roos family Bush Vine Chenin at R79 a bottle and the Houmoed Chenin at R158, are excellent value.
Welcome to the home of Pinotage and the Red Leaf Bistro – a fabulous place to stop for lunch and indulge in a Pinotage Burger and PinotAle, both made with, you guessed it, Pinotage. Beyers Truter was one of the early pioneers who put South Africa's signature varietal on the map. As former cellar master at Kanonkop - another iconic Pinotage estate- where he won the Diners Club Winemaker Of The Year event in1987 and International Winemaker Of The Year in 1971, for his Kanonkop Pinotage. He then developed Beyerskloof, into a leading wine estate in its own right with a special emphasis on Pinotage.
The farm itself is very relaxed and you can go along to the tasting room and sample some of their entry level wines and if available some of their more premium red wines. Anri Truter, son to Beyers is now very much involved in the business as cellarmaster and was himself a previous winner of the Diners Club, Young Winemaker Of The Year.
Simonsig falls just out of the Bottelary hills area but is so close I thought I would give them a mention anyway. Simonsig is one of the oldest farms in the Cape; its first owner Jacques Malan was a French Huguenot who arrived at the Cape in 1688. South Africa’s wine industry was much improved by the arrival of these Huguenots, fleeing religious persecution and bringing with them the viticultural knowledge that was lacking among the Cape’s Dutch settlers at the time.
Jacques Malan was the co-founder of the Stellenbosch Wine Route in 1971, the first of its kind and was also the very first South African to produce a sparkling wine using the Method Champenoise style of Champagne. Today they continue to produce the Kaapse Vonkel using the same original methods and the exceptional winemaking traditions are continued by his sons Francois and Johan and grandson Francois- Jacques.
The Simonsig wine portfolio is extensive and many of their entry level wines are a familiar sight in most grocery stores and wine lists. They have a selection of Methode Cap Classique and premium wines, the most exclusive of these being the Garland. A single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, the Garland, is their icon wine, limited in production and comes with a price tag of R1375.00. There aren’t’ many bottles left but if you would like to try it make sure to be at the tasting room on the last day of every month when they allow tastings while stocks last. Also worth taking home with you are the Redhill Pinotage, Merindol Syrah, and the full-bodied Aurum Chardonnay. For a bite to eat, the onsite Cuvee restaurant is a great choice for excellent bistro-style cuisine.