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Posts Tagged ‘South African Wine’

Adventures in Africa

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Africa Awaits

Exotic Birds and Unique Flora

Exotic Birds and Unique Flora

Africa is truly like no other place in the world. The African continent is far larger than most people imagine. Its size combined exceeds the United States, China, India, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Eastern Europe, the United Kingdom, Japan and a handful of other countries. It is far more diverse than North and South America, Australia, Asia, and Europe.

 

No Two Countries are the Same

Northern Africa is heavily influenced by the Middle East, which is evident in the culinary dishes, religion and politics. Western Africa is filled with an array of history, including painful reminders of European colonization, particularly the slave trade. Eastern Africa offers some of the best wildlife viewing in the world, along with wonderful beaches unknown to most Americans. Southern Africa is home to several UNESCO World Heritage sites, amazing safari game viewing, archaeological sites including the beginning of humankind, and cosmopolitan cuisine and award-winning wine from world-class cities.

In this five-part series on experiencing Africa, we will share with you why Africa delivers unbelievably beautiful, pristine and awe-inspiring vacation destinations.

 

Tanzania
Parade of Elephant

Parade of Elephant

Home to some of the most amazing natural wonders on the African continent, a visit to Tanzania is an unforgettable journey. It surely will be among the remarkable experiences you’ll ever have.

Mount Kilimanjaro

  • The snow-capped peaks of Mt Kilimanjaro are a sight to behold. It is Africa’s highest mountain. Ascending from the grassy, lush plains, its elevation exceeds 19,300 feet. For those brave enough to attempt a climb, they will travel through five different climatic zones during the 5- to 9-day trip. You might want to start planning because due to the influence of global warming, the ice may be extinct within 20 years.

Ngorongoro Crater

  • It is the world’s largest intact caldera. A geological wonder dating back nearly 3,000,000 years, it is home to a vast array of wildlife. Nearly 25,000 large mammals reside here including black-maned lions, cheetahs, leopards, flamingos, giant-tusked elephants, and a dwindling number of highly endangered black rhinos.

    Great Migration Plains

    Plains of The Great Migration

Serengeti National Park

  • The Serengeti region is most famous for The Great Migration. This is the annual occasion where hundreds of thousands of zebra, wildebeest, and other herbivores cross the plains and rivers, risking their lives as they try to avoid encounters with lions, crocodiles and other natural predators. The ecosystem here is one of the earth’s oldest and has nearly unchanged fauna, vegetation, and climate.

 

South Africa

Most people are familiar with South Africa because of its two Nobel Prize recipients Bishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. With the dismantling of the oppressive apartheid system, this “Rainbow Nation” has quickly become a top travel destination. South Africa truly has it all. See why South Africa has been voted as a Bucket List vacation.

Three World-class Cities:

Johannesburg, dubbed the “City of Gold”, Joburg is the economic heartbeat of the African continent. It is also a great city for those with an interest in the arts and history.

Apartheid Museum

The Apartheid Museum, an Emotional Journey

Cultural opportunities include:

  • Journey to FreedomSoweto or South Western Township was command central for much of the apartheid struggle. Historic landmarks include Regina Mundi Church, a popular underground meeting place; Hector Pieterson Museum and Mandela House. Vilakazi Street is the only street in the world that can lay claim to being the former home of two Nobel Prize winners.
  • Museums Abound – The top choices include the Apartheid Museum, the Museum of Africa, the National Railway & Steam Museum, and the South African Museum of Military History
  • Art – Rosebank Rooftop Craft Market has over 600 clothing, craft, art and ceramic stalls with handmade African items.

 

Durban, with a tongue-in-cheek nickname “Durban the Turban”, is home to the greatest population of Indians outside of India.

  • Walking along the beachfront try to spot dolphins just offshore in the Indian Ocean or experience a rickshaw ride in Victoria Park.
  • Take in a slice of history in Shakaland, with authentic re-creations of the life and times of Shaka, the King of the Zulu tribe.
  • Enjoy authentic crafts, fabric and authentic cuisine at the Victoria Market.

 

Cape Town is referred to as the Mother City since it is South Africa’s oldest. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with both unique beaches and splendid mountains.

  • Walk to Freedom – Her rich history includes Robben Island, the isolated home for political prisoners including Nelson Mandela; The District Six Museum; Langa, the oldest apartheid housing system and the Gold Museum.
  • Sightseeing abounds with visits to:
    • The V & A Waterfront, is a shopping and dining district set along a working harbor. You can purchase locally made beads and other arts and crafts at the Green Market Square, a short world from the V&A.
    • Table Mountain offers panoramic views of the entire city. It can be accessed via the world’s largest, rotating cable car or by strenuous hike for the adventure seeker.

      Baboons at the Cape of Good Horn

      Baboons at the Cape of Good Hope

    • Cape Point is the southwestern-most point on the continent. It’s also home to the Cape Floral Kingdom, a UNESCO World Heritage site that boasts more than 20% of Africa’s flora and comprises eight protected areas. Baboons still roam wild here.
    • Watching the colony of endangered African penguins at Boulders Beach will bring out the kid in everyone.
    • Chapman’s Peak is a 6-mile, picturesque drive that rivals California’s Big Sur.
  • Safari Game Drive & Wildlife Viewing
    • Searching for the Big-5

      Searching for the Big 5 on a Game Drive

      Kruger National Park – Enjoy outstanding wildlife viewing in the world’s oldest national park, as well as in the surrounding private, luxury game lodges.

    • Pilanesberg National Park – Located in a 1.2 billion-year-old extinct volcanic crater, it houses an extensive wildlife population including more than 300 bird species.
    • KwaZulu-Natal Province – Home of the popular walking safari, the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve gained recognition for its conservation efforts in saving the white rhino from extinction.
    • Addo Elephant National Park – With prime-viewing opportunities for its 300 elephants, it’s also a great place for bird watchers to try and spot some of the 180 species.
  • Gourmet Food & Wine
    Cape Winelands are Surrounded by Mountains

    The Cape Winelands are Surrounded by Mountains

    • Evenings rich with mouthwatering cuisine and fine wine are abundant in this cosmopolitan city. Guided and self-drive tours of the Cape Winelands’ 13 wine routes are popular ways to experience the up-and-coming wine regions. Located within an hour’s drive of Cape Town are the most famous, Stellenbosch, Constantia, Franschhoek and Paarl. Better yet, stay in one of the well appointed B&B’s, hotels or inns with breathtaking mountain and vineyard vistas.

Return to TheTravelGospel.com for our five-part series. We’ll share more information on must-see points of interest and must-do attractions on the amazing African continent.

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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:

Whites

  • 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

Reds

  • 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.

Cheers!

 

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Tourism Changes Lives

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Cape Town's Iconic Table Mountain

Table Mountain in Cape Town

South African Tourism 

Due to the injustices from decades of Apartheid, many indigenous Africans are financially disadvantaged. In an effort to help right some of these wrongs, trust and initiatives have been instituted for various industries, including the wine industry.

Currently, there are approximately 160,000 individuals from socio-economically disadvantaged communities who are employed within the industry.  With each visit, additional employment opportunities open up.

 

African Winemakers

On my first visit to South Africa in 2004, I met a young man from one of the townships who was working toward a career as a winemaker. Today, around a dozen Africans, whose families suffered under Apartheid have risen to the role of winemaker.  Although that number is still quite small, it is a prime example of how tourism brings hope and changes lives. Tourism is an integral part of the South African economy, creating one in twelve jobs.

 

First African Female Winemaker

First African Female Winemaker

In the late 1990s, Ntsiki Biyela, from KwaZulu Natal enrolled in the University of Stellenbosch’s oenology program. Her road to becoming a winemaker was atypical and quite difficult. All of our classmates were white and classes were taught in Afrikaans,  the language of her oppressors. However, Ms. Biyela, a proud Zulu persevered. Upon graduation, she joined the staff at boutique wine producer Stellekaya, becoming the country’s first African female winemaker. Shortly thereafter, she was named Female Winemaker of the Year.

Stellekaya, located in the heart of the Cape Winelands produces seven red wines, many with a blend that includes Merlot. Stellekaya sources grapes from local producers. When the grapes arrive at the winery, Ms. Biyela has them undergo a cold maceration process designed to capture the fruit flavors. She then uses a traditional punch down method followed by a wooden basket press. After fermentation, the wine is aged in 100% French oak barrels.  You should taste the award-winning results for yourself.

South Africa dons many travelers’ Bucket Lists.  This is hardly surprising given its ideal climate, friendly people, great exchange rate to the US Dollar, awesome food scene, quality wines and beautiful wine regions.

When you visit Stellenbosch, (I suggest you do) stop in at the Stellekaya winery and see firsthand how your tourism dollars have helped lift this country. Then, head to dinner at Aubergine with its cosmopolitan menu and dazzling wine list. But that’s a discussion for another post.

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Wines for Fall

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Warm Weather Wines

Wild Horse Pinot Noir

Wild Horse Pinot Noir

Last week, I opened a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc to drink with grilled chicken. I never thought it was possible but I was too hot to drink a glass of wine. I know. Me!  I knew something was terribly wrong.  The brutal southern California heat wave was definitely getting the best of me.

So after recovering from my shock, I decided I would chill this white wine to a temperature of about 45°. I tried another sip after it was chilled and did manage to finish the glass.  But this got me thinking.

Checking the calendar, I saw that fall was arriving and hoped it would bring fall-like temperatures.  The warm weather may return given the shift in climate change, but I envision weather, during the next few months that will have me reaching for more red wines.

Over the past week, I have been on a mission to uncover red wines light enough to enjoy in the early evening as the day’s heat dissipates.  But I also want something elegant that can be enjoyed with a great dinner.  And Cabernet Sauvignon was not an option for two reasons.  First, it’s an obvious choice and kind of a cop out.  Second, it’s still too freaking hot to drink Cab! These three wines for fall were my top choices of the bottles I sampled. And yes, it was arduous!

 

Distinctive Topography

As you probably know, Santa Barbara County vintners make some outstanding wines.  Wild Horse Winery and Vineyards is one of a stars of this region. Their Unbridled Pinot Noir has grapes that were grown in the northernmost part of the appellation, Santa Maria Valley. This part of the Central Coast has a cool climate that sweeps in from an unusual east-west running traverse that brings in ocean breezes. These winds are followed by afternoon coastal fog that lingers throughout the night. This distinctive characteristic helps make for a long growing season, allowing the grapes to ripen slowly, in addition to increasing the hang time on the vine.

This 2012 drinks nicely. The tannins have softened already and the fruit isn’t too jammy given the high 14.5% alcohol by volume (ABV). There were slight floral notes on the nose, as well as black cherry. I tasted ripe cherry and baked plum tart. This wine is worthy as a dinner companion.

 

Two Oceans Converge

 

South African Pinot Noir

2012 Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir

The quality of South African wines has improved dramatically. The Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir is an excellent example of the pride and investment that is leading the charge for quality wines throughout the country. Their 2012 Pinot Noir is produced in the Hermel-en-Aarde area, which is part of the Hermanus wine routeClick to see the map of the Hermanus Wine Route  Along the southern tip of Africa, the cold Atlantic Ocean waters converge with the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.  The ocean breezes help to create a perfect environment for growing Pinot Noir, as well as Chardonnay.

The garnet color along with the raspberry and red cherry aromas signal classic Pinot Noir. This bottle is an excellent choice to bring to a dinner party, especially if the hosts are red wine snobs. The reason? It is no typical New World Pinot Noir.

Upon tasting, I got a wonderful earthiness typically found in an aged, red Burgundian. I also tasted dark cherry and raspberry, the usual New World flavors; but there was also cranberry and a hint of spice. Given its youth, this Pinot had unexpected mellowed tannins. It is an age worthy wine with an elegant structure, retailing for $38.  (The price at Vintage Wines in San Diego.)

I was surprised to see the alcohol by volume  (ABV) was a whopping 14% given its production area, along the cool-climate Walker Bay region.  However, the wine did not present any pronounced alcohol heat.

 

Who Wants Italian?
Italian Wines

Indigenous Italian Wines

When you think about wines for fall you have to give a nod to Italian wines, as the two go hand-in-hand.  I am not a huge Italian wine fan but I enjoyed the 2011 Valpolicella Ripasso Monte Vozo.  Located in the Veneto wine region, a ripasso wine is a blend of indigenous grapes Corvina (70%), Rondinella (20%) and Molinara (10%).

The ripasso wine-making process reuses the partially dried grape skins and sediment of Amarone wine.  It then undergoes a secondary fermentation that brings in more flavor, body and structure.

The reason I don’t care for a lot of Italian wines is I find many of them to be ordinary, especially in the lower-end price point. These inexpensive wines usually lack structure and taste like watered down grape juice.  (Of course, I’m not referring to the outstanding Barolo, Montepulciano or Sangiovese wines.) I firmly believe time in the bottle has helped this wine to develop more concentration in flavor.  A bit of age has improved its fruit flavor by adding a bit of depth.

You should treat this wine as you would a rosé, meaning serve it chilled.  Doing so will help bring out more of the almond and dried cherry fruit flavors.

This is a backyard wine to serve as an icebreaker when entertaining friends in the afternoon. It coss around $19. I drank it with various hard and soft cheeses, salamis, dried fruit, and nuts.

 

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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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South African Chenin Blanc

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Chenin Blanc, a Great White Wine

Everyone can recall the first time they were kissed or the day they got their driver’s license. Those moments were your evidence to the world, or at least to your parents, that you were no longer a child.  For me, the day I fell in love with South African Chenin Blanc wine ranks right up there with these right-of-passage experiences. Ever since, I’ve been a convert of white wines, particularly South African Chenin Blanc.

South African Chenin Blanc after playing golf

South African Chenin Blanc after playing golf

I was sitting at lunch with my travel companions, two-foursome groups of devoted American golfers, sharing hole-by-hole stories of our earlier match on a top South African golf course. In typical golfer fashion, we had risen extremely early so we could have a quick breakfast before heading off to the course for some range practice and promptly make our tee times. The day had been an expectantly warm January summer day.

When we all met for our 19th-hole lunch, because of the heat, I didn’t feel like drinking a big, bold Cabernet or even a lighter-bodied Merlot, which were my typical go-to wines. I wasn’t sure what I’d order given the wine list was heavily swayed toward white wines, which I never drank. The server arrived and my table mates immediately ordered two bottles of white wine. I took this as an omen for me to pass on drinking wine.  So, I decided to hydrate myself with “a sparkling”, the name South Africans use for a glass of sparkling water.

What I didn’t know was that my wine-drinking world was about to be turned upside down. I was about to have quite a wonderful, eye-opening experience. The server brought glasses for all us and began pouring. Since I was caught in the conversation, I didn’t notice she had poured a glass of wine for me too. I figured I’d just give my glass to one of my teammates as the meal progressed but something strange happened. Everyone started raving about how good the wine tasted. I had played with Bill, an older gentlemen from New England who had shared with me that he was an avid wine drinker. When he joined the praise party, I took the bait and took a sip.

South African Chenin Blanc at Lunch

South African Chenin Blanc at Lunch

Wow! What a delight! I had just tried my first South African Chenin Blanc or Steen as it is referred to in Afrikaans. It was crisp, clean, had a hint of tropical fruit and a bit of lemon zest. I loved it. And this delicious Chenin Blanc paired wonderfully with the flaky fish served in a wine and caper sauce I had ordered.

During the remainder of my golfing adventure in South Africa, I sampled Chenin Blanc with every meal. It paired nicely with a starter salad. I had a glass of my new-found favorite South African Chenin Blanc with a cheese and fruit plate I snacked on in my hotel room. Never did it disappoint.

Upon my return from South Africa, I knew I had to confess to my red-wine-only drinking friends. We were sitting outside on a friend’s patio, drinking red wine of course, when I decided it was time to spill my dirty, little South African secret. Instead of trepidation, I felt confident that once they heard about my epiphany, they’d follow suit. I didn’t pussyfoot around; but instead I just came out and said, “Okay you guys. I have a confession to make. When I was in South Africa, I drank white wine. But it was really amazing and I think you all should give it a try.” After a few minutes of teasing remarks, I decided that with or without their approval, I was going to stop limiting myself to only red wines and I’ve never regretted that decision.

South African Chenin Blanc with Vichyssoise

South African Chenin Blanc with Vichyssoise

Today, some of my absolute favorite wines to sip at the end of a long day (okay, true for any kind of day) include Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño and Torrentes, which I firmly believe came about as a direct result of that glass of South African Chenin Blanc I drank on that memorable afternoon.  It was that experience that opened my eyes to the possibility that white wines can be good and should be taken seriously. I absolutely love white wines.  When we have friends over for a wine-pairing dinner, a South African Chenin Blanc is one of our top choices to serve with the first-course salad or the second-course soup.

However, you don’t have to wait for your own epiphany to start drinking truly delicious, quality white wines. Not only are white wines mouth-watering, but due to their acidity, they pair quite nicely with seafood dishes, cheeses and most meals served with a cream sauce.  As the holidays approach and you ponder what to serve with the myriad of dishes, may I suggest a South African Chenin Blanc?

If you’d like to experience South African Chenin Blanc firsthand, join Fine Living Enthusiast as we journey to southern Africa Sept.  2014 on a Wine and the Wilderness vacation. During this time, we’ll spend two amazing days in the Stellenbosch wine region tasting and learning about South African Chenin Blanc, Pinotage and other great wines of the Cape Winelands.

 

 

 

 

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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…

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 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)

Excludes:

  • 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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