Stellenbosch - Wine and Cheese

Saturday was an early rise kinda’ day. A group of volunteers took a train out to Stellenbosch, which is in South African wine country, and did a day long wine tour. The first thing this guide tells us is that we will be having upwards of 20 wines at 5 different wineries. My first thought is - I will make it all the way through in a giddy and uppity mood or I’ll be asleep by stop five. Let’s do this.

We get to tour a wine cellar at the first stop, which was pretty nice. Unfortunately the wine cellars in Italy are much better than this one, so I was not too impressed. Too much ugly machinery here. I’m looking for the old school approach to storing, a little more wood is appealing to me.

Our guide really loved his job, he didn’t complain one time about working on Saturday or having to deal with a bunch of Americans. Actually, I take that back, he was sure to complain within 5 minutes of the first wine tasting. He really got onto a group of girls at another table for being too loud, and without knowing what country they reside, exclaimed “This is not America.” I’m a bit bashful now, not too excited about the fact this guy has a qualm with Americans, but also the fact these girls are indeed American and living up to the loud American stereotype perturbs me.

I move on gracefully, because after all I’m not a loud American and I’ll claim something of European decent if necessary. We have our glasses of wine and move on to stop number two. At this stop we have 6 wines to taste and a cheese bar to run through. I go a little crazy because it’s incredibly nice. We get to choose the wines we taste, so my decision making is easily accomplished by choosing the most expensive of the wines. I wanted to get at least one of each: white, blush, red, combination, and dessert. They had a hard time keeping count and ended up just giving us a taste of anything, so forget about the 6 tastings, lets get as much as I can handle. My favorite was a mixture of their wines, and yes the most expensive bottle available. I must have good taste.

I move to the cheese bar, and circle it with a few others a good number of times. Oh. My. Goodness. Why don’t I do cheese and wine more often? This is delectable! A couple of the volunteers I’m with decide that we are going to split up a little feast, and each buy something to contribute to this sporadic pot luck. I get some fresh homemade bread. But we end up having wine, fresh breads, brie, and raspberry jam. It was beautiful at first, and gone within seconds.

Stop three includes lunch, goes pretty quick as most of us are pretty hungry by now. Eat up. On to stop four. This one whizzes by, and everybody feels pretty good by this point. I really don’t know how much wine I can handle going forward. My palate can’t handle this menagerie of wines much more. Stop five comes along and we know the drill by now, and I’m baby sipping. I’m relieved when it finally comes to an end. It’s been a long day, a good and beautiful one, but I’m ready to move on.

We have a fiasco in our attempt to get home. We end up waiting at the train station for almost 2 hours for a cab to come pick us up. At first much of the group was ready to go into Claremont for dinner and drinks that evening. After the long wait, so many people were drowsy that we had to make it home quick or some people would be snoring and drawing unwanted attention. A few of us had a quick bite by the houses, and then retreated for the evening to a not-so-cozy warm bed. I just run through the mental images of what I saw during the day as I fall asleep.