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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

Discover South African Wine

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South African Wine

Cape Dutch Architecture

Unique Cape Dutch Architecture

During the past 10 years, South African wines have gained a bit of shelf space in the wine shop. But, for the majority of American wine drinkers this country remains off the wine-drinking radar screen. That is a huge mistake because South African wine vintners produce some of the most value-driven, yet eminent wines in the world.

Storied History

South Africa is considered a New World wine region. However, European immigrants planted the first wine grapes back in 1652, launching a popular wine culture, especially in England and France. But as luck would have it, war, the opening of the Suez Canal and the presence of phylloxera led to an equally grand fall. Twenty years ago with the dismantling of Apartheid, major investments in the wine industry have spurred a reemergence.

Cape Winelands Surrounded by Mountains

Cape Winelands Surrounded by Mountains

The Cape Winelands region has many favorable conditions present for growing quality vines. With an accommodatingly warm Mediterranean climate, rich top- and sub soils, and adequate winter rainfall, this emerging nation has quickly regained a reputation for producing award-winning wines. It is also strikingly beautiful with Cape-Dutch architecture and picturesque wine estates set against mountainous backgrounds.


Popular Wine Regions

The more esteemed wine regions include the following:

Constantia Valley – Located a short 20-minute drive from Cape Town, this area is the birthplace of South African wine. Constantia, a same-named sweet Muscat wine was extremely popular among the English and French aristocracy. Today, Sauvignon Blanc, a cool-climate grape benefits from nearby ocean breezes off the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Stellenbosch – With more than 150 wine estates and grape producers, this region is the most popular with tourists, as well as locals.The short drive from Cape Town makes it an easy weekend getaway destination. The hilly terrain, compliments of the nearby Simonsberg, Drakenstein and Stellenbosch Mountains provides favorable soil conditions for growing world-class wines.

The University of Stellenbosch is the equivalent of University of California, Davis for viticulture and oenology studies.

Lunch at Moreson Wines in Franschhoek

Lunch at Moreson Wines in Franschhoek

Franschhoek – Famed for its amazing scenery and an outstanding culinary scene, the “French Corner” also produces some world-renown wines. About an hour’s drive from Cape Town, the valley produces international varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, as well as Semillion and Shiraz.

Paarl – If you enjoy fortified wines and spirits, (who doesn’t?), this is your ‘hood. Situated in the Berg River Valley, many of the wine farms also make cheese and grow olives.


Take a Sip

One of my goals for 2015 is to “drink outside the box”. Instead of reaching for my tried-and-true favorites, I have started drinking wines made from lesser-known grapes. The wines of South Africa certainly fit into this category. Also, I plan to drink popular varieties from atypical regions. Instead of pouring a Russian River Pinot Noir, why not give one a try from South Africa?  With a climate similar to parts of Sonoma County and rejuvenated winemakers, expect some pretty tasty juice.

Approximately 55% of wine production in the country is dedicated to white grapes including less-familiar wines such as Colombard, Hanepoot (aka Muscat of Alexandria) and Cape Riesling. Steen, the local name for Chenin Blanc is the most popular white wine. It is one of my favorite styles.

Pinotage South Africa's Indigenous Grape

Pinotage South Africa’s Indigenous Grape

A truly unique red wine grape is the indigenous Pinotage. The grape was invented by a University of Stellenbosch professor as a cross between Cinsaut and Pinot Noir. This is a wine you will either hate or tolerate; but very few people love it. However, you should taste for yourself.

Here are a few Pinotage suggestions to sample:

  • 2011 Fleur du Cap $12
  • 2011 Neil Ellis $18
  • 2011 Fairview Primo $28

Since South Africa is a southern hemisphere country, all vintages are six months older than wines bottled in the United States.

South Africa exports about 50% of its wine production. The United States markets have started to receive a larger allotment of these shipments. You’ll have to talk to your wine shop owner to help you locate most bottles. As yet, demand hasn’t risen to the point where you’ll find bottle after bottle sitting on shelves. However, when you come across a South African import, my advise is you should reach for a bottle because you will not be disappointed.


My Picks
Quality, Value-packed South African Wine

Quality, Value-packed South African Wine

Here are some other fine, reasonably price South African wines I think you may enjoy:


  • 2012 Graham Beck “Bowed Head’ Chenin Blanc $12 – Dried apricots, tree-ripened peaches, lovely long finish
  • 2013 De Wetshof “Bon Vallon”Chardonnay – Floral notes followed by stone fruit and Bosch pear flavors


  • 2012 Rust en Vrede Merlot $18 – Chocolate nose,  raspberry and black cherry flavors with a rich, raisin-like finish
  • 2010 Painted Wolf Guillermo Pinotage $19 – Soft blueberry and blackberry flavors
  • 2011 Starke-Conde Cabernet Sauvignon $24 – Dark cherry, blackberry with a lengthy finish
  • 2008 Meerlust Rudicon $27 – Earthy followed by berry flavors and Thanksgiving spices
  • 2012 Boekenhoutskloof Chocolate Block $32 – You may confuse it with with a like a northern Rhône Syrah with a chef’s heavy-hand of black pepper, coriander, nutmeg and juicy red fruits
  • 2011 Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir $40 – Hibiscus tea floral notes, typical strawberry & strawberry flavors along with surprising savory spice notes


Let me know your take on any of these picks.



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South African Sparkling Wine

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Graham Beck Wines Brut, NV, Méthode Cap Classique


Small Bubbles are Best for Champagne

Small Bubbles are Best for Champagne

At Graham Beck Wines in South Africa, their mission is: The eternal pursuit of the perfect bubble. Cellar Master, Pieter Ferreira philosophy’s can be summed up in this quote, “The smaller you can create that bubble, the better the chances that the wine will develop gentle flavours.” And may I add, The greater the chance you won’t wake up up with a headache. This is evident when you taste their sparkling wine.

They begin this quest by handpicking the grapes. Then the Chardonnay (55%) and Pinot Noir (45%) clutters are whole-bunch pressed, fermented separately and finally, blended along with a bit of reserve wine. Bottles are left on the lees for 15-18 months.

Their non-vintage Brut shows that classic aroma of yeast as soon as you pick up the glass. I love the breakfast-toast taste of that first sip, followed by lemon zest. I also picked up some crisp, green apple. This is a moussey sparkling with a delicious, rich creamy finish.

Graham Beck Brut Sparkling Wine

Graham Beck Brut Sparkling Wine

Graham Beck sparkling wine is produced in the Robertson region, a district of the greater Breede River Valley appellation in South Africa. It is adjacent to Paarl, another top-producing district. The winery is located approximately 90 miles outside of Cape Town.

Robertson is not the most hospitable area for wine cultivation. The nearby Breede Valley, not surprisingly has sand deposits, which makes for fertile soils. In the higher elevations, shale and red clay are the predominant soils.

Irrigation System  for Robertson Vineyards

Irrigation System for Breede Valley Vineyards

Also, with Summer, comes a hot climate, with very little rainfall. Irrigation is a must but even that is sometimes not enough. Growers also rely on wells, in addition to stored water captured from the rains. Furthermore, vintners must contend with insects, fungi and disease. In order to protect the wines, they must attack these enemies with continual spraying.  To make wines in these conditions takes passion.

I’m not saying this wine is good luck but it does happen to be the sparkling toasted by Presidents. The first democratically elected President of the Republic of South Africa, Nelson Mandela toasted his historic election victory in 1994 with a bottle of this carefully made sparkling wine. President Obama and First Lady Michelle also enjoyed a glass or two of this Brut on Nov. 4, 2008, to celebrate his historic election win.

In San Diego, you can purchase this lovely sparkling wine from Bine and Vine on Adams Ave.  It costs around $15. They carry a nice selection of South African wines.





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Girlfriend Getaway

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Luxurious Girlfriend Getaway in South Africa

From $5,399 including fuel surcharges and taxes

Begin your luxurious vacation extravaganza at the posh Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa in glorious Cape Town where earth, sea and sky meet.  Poised above the Atlantic waves and flanked by majestic Table Mountain and her Twelve Apostles Mountain Range, the intimate 5-star hotel captures you with its deluxe guest rooms and spacious suites, as well as breathtaking gardens and two ocean-view pools.

Continue with shopping at Access Park, famous for its 50-plus factory shops and Canal Walk.  It’s hailed as one of the biggest shopping centers in the Southern Hemisphere.  Enjoy “Streetwires” a South African tradition of beading and wire art.  In this interactive workshop,  you will produce and keep three items, and then finish the afternoon with high-tea at the famed Mount Nelson Hotel.

Stroll through the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens with over 3,500 species of Flora and Fauna on a half-day tour.  Then escape to the Auberge du Quartier Francais a small, privately owned inn situated in the French Huguenot Valley of Franschhoek.  This charming inn provides high-end luxury with serene gardens surrounded by the stunning Cape Winelands.

Get pampered! During your two-night stay at Quartier Francais, you’ll spend an afternoon being spoiled at the Zevenwacht Farm near Stellenbosch where the therapists of the Mangwanani Spa have a host of relaxing massage choices for you including their African Revitalization Package.

As though this exquisite vacation getaway wasn’t enough, conclude your well-deserved retreat at the Jackalberry Lodge in Thornybush Private Game Reserve.  Adjoining the Greater Kruger National Park, Thornybush has one of the world’s premier “Big Five” game viewing areas. Experience game drives in open-safari vehicles with highly trained rangers and trackers.   Enjoy the exciting opportunity to see Africa’s “Big Five” up close and personal.

This vacation escape includes:

·  International Airfare from Washington or New York to Cape Town via Johannesburg

·  Domestic flights as indicated in itinerary

·  All services as specified

·  8 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 2 Dinners

·  High tea

·  4 Game drives

·  5-star accommodation in standard rooms

·  Transportation in luxury air-conditioned vehicles with qualified drivers

·  Sightseeing as per itinerary led by experienced, English-speaking guides

·  African Revitalization Package at Mangwanani Spa

·  Entrance fees for sightseeing as indicated

Call us today and we’ll help you plan the girlfriend getaway you’re always dreamed of.

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Food & Wine Vacation in South Africa

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Culinary Vacation for the Food &Wine Enthusiast

from $6,125 with many extras included

This incredible package includes 2 nights at the luxurious One & Only Hotel with its 5,000 bottle, tri-level wine loft and Michelin-starred chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa, 1 night at the Grande Roche with its award-winning cuisine, 2 nights at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve and 2 nights at Lion Sands Private Game Lodge plus more…


  • Round trip coach air on South African Airways from New York (JFK) or Washington (IAD) Airport to South Africa OR Tambo International Airport
  • Domestic coach air in South Africa as per the itinerary (Johannesburg – Cape Town – Nelspruit – Johannesburg)
  • Accommodation as per the itinerary
  • Most meals (7 x breakfast, 6 x lunch, 7 x dinner)
  • Ground Transfers
  • All park fees and safari activities
  • Cape Peninsula Tour
  • Winelands Tour

Satisfy your food, wine and adventure passions with this amazing South African vacation extravaganza. For dates and a detailed itinerary, give us a call or send us an email with your contact information.  We’ll be happy to discuss this extraordinary gourmet lovers’ vacation with you.

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Cape Town Whales and Wine

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Starting from $2,399 including taxes, fuel surcharges and Sept. 11th fee*

There is NO SINGLE SUPPLEMENT CHARGE on this amazing vacation!

Begin your African adventure in Cape Town, the Mother City.  From your base at The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel, you may venture out to the Constantia region, home of the first vineyards in South Africa.  There will be plenty of leisure time for you to explore the history and culture of Cape Town from her natural attributes to her historical sites.    In the evenings, you may enjoy the award-winning culinary offerings from the onsite, South Africa Restaurant of the Year, The Greenhouse, or stroll along the world-renown Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, for additional dining options or shopping.

Whale in HermanusMarvel at the magnificent whales from your room at The Marine, the 5-star Relais & Chateaux Hotel set high atop the cliffs.  Spectacular views are yours from one of the best land-based observation posts in the world.  

This vacation of natural wonders includes:

  • International flights: New York or Washington, DC to Johannesburg
  • Domestic flights: Johannesburg/Cape Town/Johannesburg
  • Accommodations as specified
  • Traditional Dinner – Cape Malay Experience a unique and authentic cuisine of the Western Cape, dating bak to the 17th century (excluding beverages)
  • Wine CellarPicnic lunch at a local wine farm within the Hermanus area 
  • A bottle of South African wine
  • Singles pay same individual price as doubles/couples – no single supplement

* Pricing for the following dates:

May and Sept 2012

Additional travel dates:

  • April and Aug. 11-31, 2012 (from $2,699)
  • June, July and Aug 1-10, 2012 (from $2,999)


  • Costs of obtaining a passport, gratuities, travel insurance, items of a personal nature and other services not mentioned

Restrictions apply.

Call or email us for details on this amazing vacation.

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Cape Town Gay Pride 2012

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Join the party in Cape Town, South Africa starting Feb. 24th to March 4th.

This cosmopolitan city has plenty of  gay-friendly accommodations, restaurants, and bars.

Gay Pride in Cape Town

Cape Town is the epicenter of Gay living for all of Africa. South Africa became the first  African nation to legalize gay marriage in 2006.  Let yourself be free! Enjoy the film screenings, workshops, pool parties, a Mr. and Mrs. Pride Cape Town Pride pageant, and beach scene during this year’s festivities. Closing day culminates with main event at Cape Town Pride Parade. This experience can also include a trip out to wine country or  game drive safari.

Don’t miss out on this amazing package.  Book your Gay Pride vacation to South Africa with us now!

Packages start at $2,999 including international air from New York or Washington DC.

Call or email us for details.  Limited availability.

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This package includes 2 nights in Cape Town, a stay in the Winelands, an authentic traditional cooking course and a safari to see the famed White Lion plus much more . . .


  • Round trip coach air on South African Airways from New York (JFK) or Washington (IAD) Airport to South Africa OR Tambo International Airport
  • Domestic coach air in South Africa as per the itinerary (Johannesburg – Cape Town – Johannesburg)
  • Accommodation as per the itinerary
  • Most meals (7 x breakfasts, 6 x lunch, 7 x dinner)
  • Ground Transfers
  • All park fees and safari activities
  • Cape Peninsula Tour
  • Winelands Tour

These special Fares/Rates are valid for a limited time from May 1-31, 2012 & from Sept. 1-30, 2012.  Act now to reserve your spot.

For dates and a detailed itinerary, give us a call or send us an email with your contact information.  We’ll be happy to discuss this exciting vacation with you.

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Culinary Safari in South Africa 2012

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from $6,024 including international air

South African Cuisine & Cooking on a Culinary Safari
Gourmet Buffet on SafariVisit one of the Top 10 Bucket List Vacation options, South Africa.  Plus, learn to cook indigenous and traditional South African dishes. You’ll have the unique experience of cooking with game. Afterwards, sample the interesting results in a gourmet game lunch.  Experience the unique terroir of South African wines on a picnic lunch.

In the village of Franschhoek located in the heart of the Cape Winelands participate in a cooking demonstration to learn about and cook with, uniquely South African ingredients.  Then take a guided walk through the surrounding countryside accompanied by an interesting, unforgettable talk about indigenous fynbos – ‘fine bush’, which is vegetation unique to the Cape Floral Kingdom.

Culture & Nightlife
In your free time, explore the culture and history of Cape Town and her natural beauty. See the Mother City’s Table Mountain, one of the 7 Wonders of Nature, along with lush valleys and sunset views of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Spend your afternoons relaxing by the breathtaking pools and end your day dining at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront or the award-winning restaurant at your hotel resort.

Safari and Fine Dining
Lion Sands Open Air Safari VehicleAt the Lion Sands Private Game Reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park enjoy early morning safari drives and evening game drives in open Land Rovers in search of the Big Five safari animals.  After freshening up after your morning game drive, you’ll join the Chef  to prepare Potjiekos a stew prepared outdoors using Dutch and Malay spices over an open fire, in a traditional round, cast iron, three-legged pot.

Twelve Aposteles TerraceYour stay includes lavish 5-star accommodations at:

  • The luxurious Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa lies where earth, sea and sky meet poised above Atlantic waves and flanked by the majestic Table Mountain and her Twelve Apostles mountain range in glorious Cape Town. You’ll escape in the hotel’s two breathtaking pool gardens, which are magically perched above the ocean, and indulge in the Azure Restaurant with its exquisite cuisine while marveling at the  endlessly seductive ocean views.
  • Le Quartier Francais offers a  secluded country bed and breakfast retreat situated in the  heart of the Cape Winelands. Enjoy the elegantly decorated en-suite bedrooms with a rose-filled central courtyard and swimming pool, but yet you are only steps away from the picturesque, historic village of Franschhoek.
  • View on the deck at Lion Sands LoungeLions Sands River Lodge is situated in the southern portion of the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, adjacent to the Kruger National Park.  The lodge comprises of a private lounge, bar, two swimming pools and a river island viewing deck.   Your air-conditioned thatched bedroom has an en-suite bathroom, romantic outdoor and inside showers and wooden viewing deck, are decorated in a contemporary African-style.

This magnificent vacation escape includes:

  • International airfare from NY or Washington to Cape Town via Johannesburg
  • Domestic flights per itinerary
  • Accommodations as specified
  • Meals as specified– (10) Breakfasts, (5) Lunches, (3) Dinners
  • Game drives as specified
  • Entrance fees as specified
  • English-speaking guides for sight seeing per itinerary
  • Cooking demonstrations of traditional cuisine
  • Souvenir apron and chef’s hat
  • Gourmet wine dinner in the heart of Franschhoek wine country

Call us 619-944-5202 or send an email from Contact Us for more information on this fabulous culinary and safari vacation deal!

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Golf & Safari in South Africa

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Live the dream with this golf and safari vacation adventure

Legends Golf Safari Resort

Begin your epic journey at the luxurious Table Bay Hotel, situated in Cape Town’s Victoria & Alfred Waterfront with its array of wonderful shops, restaurants and bars. You’ll marvel at the panoramic views across the Atlantic Ocean to Robben Island (Apartheid-era “home” of political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela), with the imposing Table Mountain range soaring behind.

Play the course at Arabella Golf and Country Club, a 6-star hotel with a championship course and spa. Ranked by Compleat Golfer magazine as the number one golf course in the Western Cape of South Africa, you’ll enjoy the challenges of rolling fairways, deceptive bunkers and tricky water traps. A truly unique golf course set on the banks of the Bot River Lagoon with its indigenous wild flowers.

Golf & Safari
Entabeni Private Game Reserve, “The Place of the Mountain”, is situated in the World Heritage “Waterberg Biosphere” of the Waterberg region. Less than a three-hour drive north of Johannesburg. This malaria-free reserve boasts five eco-systems. The upper escarpment offers majestic craggy rock formations and wide-open grass plains.

The Legend Golf and Safari Resort
The Legend Golf & Safari Resort presents a world first, namely a championship golf course designed by 18 of the world’s top golfers.  This exceptional golf course situated on a luxury estate includes wildlife and spectacular landscapes.  The resort reflects the rich cultural legacy of this ancient part of Africa. The “Big Five” roam free on this 22,000 hectare safari conservancy.

Heli-golf Anyone?
Experience golf like you’ve never before from a tee box that is 1400 feet above the green.  This is a “one-of-kind” experience for all avid golfers.

Standing at the top of the Extreme 19th hole at the Legendary Golf Course

The uniqueness of Legend Golf and Safari Resort is reflected in the spectacular Extreme 19th Hole, which is the longest and most dramatic Par 3 in the world.
Set high up on the impressive Hanglip Mountain and accessible only by helicopter, this par 3 hole is played from a vertical height of 1410 feet. After your short, breathtaking helicopter flight, you will the experience of a lifetime teeing off from one of three tee boxes, high up on the escarpment. With advanced technology in the form of four separate cameras and the latest tracking equipment, you’ll be able to follow and capture the tee shot and the flight of the ball.

The Extreme 19th Hole includes:

  • Helicopter flights to tee box
  • 6 balls – (you may need them)
  • Use of clubs
  • Assistance from the Resident Pro
  • Cap and glove
  • Certificate of Completion

Extraordinary value-added prices from $4,399 including:

  • Round trip international economy airfare from Washington, DC to Cape Town and back via Johannesburg
  • Domestic flights as indicated in itinerary
  • Most meals (12) as listed in the itinerary
  • Dinner for two at the Table Bay Atlantic Restaurant
  • Game drives as specified in itinerary
  • Green fees at Arabella Golf and Country Club
  • Complimentary use of the driving range at Legends Golf and Safari Resort
  • 1 round of golf includes cart and halfway house lunch at Legends
  • Five-star accommodations in standard rooms
  • Sightseeing as per itinerary led by qualified English-speaking guide
  • Entrance fees for sightseeing as indicated

Call us for a complete itinerary and travel dates.

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South Africa in Style

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Starting from $2,999 *per person/double occupancy; including taxes and fuel surcharges


Explore the natural splendors of Cape Town from its landmark beaches, delicious Malay cuisine and rich culture of the Xhosa people.  Shop for beautiful, brightly colored beadwork and baskets of the Zulu tribe or visit Robben Island, political prison from the Apartheid days.  The “Mother City” is dominated by a towering, table-shaped mountain, set on a peninsula of soaring, rocky heights and lush valleys, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans converge. 


You’ll travel to Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, home of award-winning wine farms. Here you’ll spend a half-day in the Cape Winelands, sampling world-class crisp white wines and classic, French-style reds.


No trip to South Africa would be complete without a safari game drive.  You’ll enjoy both morning and evening game-viewing safaris in search of the “Big Five” – lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard.  In open-air vehicles, you’ll be led into the bush by a tracker and driver, searching for a chance to spot giraffe, wildebeest, hyena, cheetah or maybe even the elusive wild dog.

This vacation of a lifetime includes:

  • Round trip coach air on South African Airways from New York (JFK) or Washington (IAD) Airport to South Africa OR Tambo International Airport
  • Domestic flights within South Africa per itinerary
  • Several meals including 6 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners
  • 5-star luxury accommodations
  • Sightseeing per itinerary and much more . . .

* Pricing applicable for the following dates:

  • Feb., Mar., May, & Sept. 2012
  • Other dates are available at slightly higher rates, if these don’t work for you

For more information on this exceptional, value-packed vacation, contact us.

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