Updated: Mar 17
*Please note: all information is correct at the date of publication. See individual winery websites for up-to-date info!
This holiday the teddy bear has his picnic... (and some wine!)
Daddy was too busy for us to go on a distant holiday to some faraway sunny land, so we thought we should tour our local wineries and appreciate what’s on our doorstep instead. So that’s what we did!
Stanley, our bear friend from school, joined us, the WineTots, on our Wineland adventures.
Seeing as our daughter (let’s call her Sugielooks for now, her nickname from her Aunt) had not been to a number of the Wellington wineries, we chose this area as our first weekend destination for the winter holidays.
The Wellington area is one of the youngest wine districts in South Africa. It used to be regarded as part of the Paarl wine route but was established as an independent wine route in 2012. Around fifteen wine producers are members of the Wellington wine route and are open to the public for tastings and cellar tours (some by appointment only).
First Stop: Bosman Family Vineyards
We have wanted to visit Bosman in Hermanus a few times, but it just never worked out... so we were particularly keen to visit it on this tour. We arrived as the rain cleared from the first storms that were approaching Cape Town during the winter solstice.
We discovered that not only did they supply top-quality wine, but they are also an essential producer of grafting stock for the rest of the South African wine industry. Wellington really is the ‘cradle of the contemporary South African wine industry’, supplying around 85% of the country’s vine cuttings! We will definitely need to go back for a tour at Bosman to understand this vital viticultural process further.
Some of our favourite wines were the Optenhorst Chenin Blanc, made from the 3rd oldest Chenin Blanc vines in SA, dating back to 1952.
For more information, see the Old Vines Project.
Our other favourites were the Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 from our daughter’s birth-year vintage and the Pinotage 2015.
Val du Charron Wine and Leisure Estate: Our place of rest
Our second and final destination for the day and our beautiful base for the weekend was Val du Charron... enchanting surroundings with two restaurants from which to choose.
Val du Charron Wine and Leisure Estate, with its four-star Guesthouse and five-star Coachhouse, at the edge of the Wellington valley in Bovlei, is the perfect place to unwind and soak up the incredible views of the Cape Fold mountains … come winter or summer.
On our first night, while it was all stormy outside, we warmed up near the fire in their Pizza Vista restaurant and tucked into some delicious pizza, lasagna & melanzane after tasting the different beers that they had on tap. We then paired the meal with their wickedly vivacious Black Countess wine for the adults and, to add a special cherry on top, the kids had the privilege of designing their own milkshakes for dessert!
Waking up to this view after the longest night of the year... what a treat on our winter weekend break.
Celebration was very much in order this weekend, as our friend, who was touring with us from Gauteng, was celebrating his birthday on the Saturday, followed by WineTots Daddy’s birthday on Sunday!
(Keep reading on as we adventure on to our next four winery stops in Wellington!)
Red wine and fire time on a beautiful, cause-to-be-cozy winter’s day at Welbedacht Wine Estate!
What a wonderfully special, cosy afternoon at Welbedacht Wine Estate - Schalk Burger & Sons. We were fortunate enough to meet Schalk Senior, Tiaan and René, who were all preparing for their family vacation the next day. Beautiful wines (the Estate Bohemian Syrah and Cricket Pitch being two of our particular favourites), combined with René’s vibrant hospitality, resulted in us having an epic South African kuier. This much like the theme of their generously affordable Meerkat range, which is all about gregarious fun and friends... ‘South Africa’s most gregarious wine.’
They have a lovely big grass patch out front. So do bring your cricket bat and ball next time you stop by!
Our next stop after Welbedacht winery was Wellington Wines at Bovlei, just on the edge of Wellington. We were a bit hungry at this point after our hearty breakfast, so we opted for a cheese platter with our wine tasting.
They have a food truck ‘Bain’s Caffé’ outside where you can order your cheese or meat platters as well as some food for the kids, like chicken strips and chips. Outside is a great play area for the kids. However, because it was a rainy day, we sat inside and couldn’t leave the kids unattended at the play area. …so, a bit of Peppa Pig on the iPad was in order instead of ‘muddy puddle’ playing outside.
They have an interesting ‘Duke and Doughnuts’ food and wine pairing for R60, which includes four wines. Sadly, this was sold out by the time we arrived... so I guess it must be good!
Their basic range is the Duke of Wellington with very affordable wines at R60 for the whites and R69 for the reds. La Cave is regarded as their more premium range, cellar door prices being R180 per bottle for the reds. Our favourites were the Cabernet and Cape blend. A Cape blend consists of proudly-South-African Pinotage and any other wine varietal that the winemaker wishes to add!
We were then treated to the most glorious sunset with the pink glow over the mountain range with some clouds hanging over it but not fully covering it. It was time to head back to Val du Charron to freshen up for the birthday celebrations and feast.
Saturday night feast at the Grill Room
On the Saturday night we feasted at Val du Charron’s Grill Room by the charmingly raging fire on aged, free-range beef from Ryan Boon (the best local butcher supplying free-range meat in the Cape Winelands that I know of) served perfectly tender with sides of mash, polenta, green beans and mushroom sauce. This divine ensemble was paired with our favourite of their wines on that day, the 2014 Val du Charron Cabernet Sauvignon… and to finish it off, some delicious chocolate brownies with ice cream for all. It was then time to get some sleep for Daddy’s birthday tour the next day!
Val du Charron also has a pool, kids play & splash area (for those summer days), Spa and the Wild Boar trails (mountain bike & running trails also used for the Cape Epic), which we did not have the chance to experience since we were too busy touring the spectacular wine farms. Will definitely need to come back again with our bikes and costumes!
We spent our afternoon sipping the delectable organic wines at Lazanou!
How could we express our gratitude better than through the eyes of our son?
Video editing and music by our young Maestro. Hope this can to some extent honour the quality of work that Lazanou Organic Vineyards are doing for South African organic wine and the related importance of caring for our environment. Their wine is proudly certified organic by Eco-cert, and they live fully self-sustainably on the farm.
Thank you for a fantastic afternoon, Joseph & Candice – relaxing in the warm afternoon sun, sipping your truly incredible wines (from the award-winning whites, the elegant epitomes of Chenin, Chardonnay and Viognier, to the award-winning reds, the rich, deep and spicy Syrah and Syrah-Mourvèdre) was absolutely amazing! Meanwhile the kids got to meet the pig, watch the birds, play with the dogs, jump on the trampoline, and even take a paddle on the dam. We can’t wait to come back for one of your open days, thank you again!
Dunstone Winery – a kid’s delight
We are back at Dunstone Winery (after our last trip a couple years ago) at the end of our Wellington weekend wine tour. It has one of the best play areas for kids in the Wellington wine region with an indoor play and climbing area (for those winter days), as well as an outdoor jungle gym, trampoline and guava trees to climb and pick fresh ripe fruit from to your kid’s delight!
We enjoyed a cheese platter, some burgers and a wine tasting just before sunset, overlooking the guava trees and mountain pass... The wine tasting included their Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz Rosé, Merlot, Stones in the Sun, and finally the 2016 Dunstone Shiraz, matured in French oak for fourteen months.
As the glow came over the mountain, it was time to bid farewell to Wellington and this beautiful valley until next time.
By the end of the weekend we, the WineTots, with Stanley the bear and our friend from Pretoria, had visited six wineries – all of them were new to us except for Dunstone. Follow our journey as we travel through the South African Winelands and discover how many wine farms the WineTots as a family have been to over the past eight or so years!
By the end of the school holiday, Stanley had accompanied us to a total of fifteen wine farms as well as a few other places of course. Having stuck with us on our long and wineding road, he certainly wines (with a silent ‘e’) first prize for the most seasoned winter-wine-wandering bear in the whole wide world.
Another attraction in the area includes taking a drive over the exquisite Bainskloof Pass; it’s a bit scary, with the old, narrow road winding down the edge of the pass taking you over the Cape mountains towards the north and Breedekloof area – another fantastic wine region. These days you have easy access through the tunnel, which is the longest tunnel in South Africa and (I think) Africa!
There is also the Wellington Museum in town. Nearby is the Bontebok Ridge game reserve, which we would’ve loved to visit, but will have to wait for next time. Another fun way to see part of the Wellington wine region is to join the Wellington Wine Walk - so put your boots on and give them a call.
The bountifully diverse Cape wine region is a true gem with so much to offer in terms of scenic beauty, excellent wine, wonderful food, adventurous opportunities and, of course, hearty fireplaces to relax at for a winter escape from the city.
Follow more adventures with us on Instagram @WineTots and find out more about the destinations we visited by following the links below:
Bosman Family Vineyards: https://bosmanwines.com/
Val du Charron Wine and Leisure Estate: https://vdcwines.co.za/
Welbedacht Wine Estate: https://www.schalkburgerandsons.co.za/welcome.html/
Wellington Wines: https://www.wellingtonwines.com/
Lazanou Organic Vineyards: http://www.lazanou.co.za/
Dunstone Winery: https://www.dunstone.co.za/