Today Richard and I went on our first wine tour – ever. I know that is hard to believe but we never really thought that it would interest us a whole lot. Well, as this journey has been known to do, our perceptions were shattered. We loved it!! We toured the Groot Constantia estate which is the oldest winery in South Africa, established in 1679 by Governor Simon van de Stel. Over the years the winery has changed hands but the wines from this estate have been all over the world. It is said that when Napoleon was sent to exile on the island of St Helena, he ordered cases of the Groot Constantia dessert wine and drank a bottle every day. As our group giggled at that little anecdote, our tour guide said “well, they didn’t have antidepressants back then you know!!” True enough.
The tour of the wine cellar was fascinating – from the growing of the grapes to the final bottling, we followed the process through the drums that squeezed out the pulp, to the barrels in which the juice is stored, to the stainless steel vats and the final process of bottling. Our tour guide was excellent and obviously very passionate about her wine.
And then came the tasting. For a couple of connoisseurs like us who do not know a Merlot from a Shiraz, we learned the difference between the two and much more. Our favorite was a Pinotage which is exclusive to South Africa. We tried the Merlot, Shiraz and the Cabernet Sauvignon. We liked the two former, not so much the latter. We finished the tasting off with a couple of mouthfuls of Napoleon’s dessert wine (which was delicious) and happily made our way back to the bus. Our first wine tour was a grand success and we learned something in the process. What more can you ask?!?!
We stopped for a late lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe again – because the food is delicious and because we each got a free burger with our tour package! We had grand plans for a sunset boat cruise and a dinner out to celebrate our own Thanksgiving but between the wine, sun and long days, we decided to wrap up early and headed for “home”.
It is the first major holiday that we are not with our families and I think that we were both feeling a little sad and wanted to connect. I called my mom. Richard talked to Robin and the girls, we ordered a pizza, watched a movie and gave thanks for all the blessings in our life. We still believe that we live in the greatest country in the world, our families are our anchor and our friends are what keep us going. We love you, miss you and are so thankful that you are all in our lives.
The Wine Press:
Tanks and Barrels:
We also stopped at the Botanical gardens and I took a couple pictures of some interesting birds:
And last, but not least another of South Africa’s finest: