Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve December 24, 2005

The wine tour is booked for today with Cape Wine Tours at http://www.cape-winetours.com/ . Our tour was supposed to start with a pick up at 8:45, but the guide did not arrive until 9:15. He explained he had to make a delivery to a group of Germans who were too inebriated to cart home the wine they had purchased the day before. Our guide was Robby, one of the owners of the company, which only provides wine tours. There were a total of nine of us for the tour, six of whom were women.

Our first stop was in the Stellenbosch region where there are over 127 wineries in this region alone. There are 14 wine regions in South Africa. The most impressive winery was the Simonsig winery. It is the largest family owned and operated winery in South Africa. They gave us a tour of how wine is made and showed off their production units and well as the grounds. We were given lessons in how to look like a ‘wine snob’ by holding the glass at an angle to the point of almost pouring the wine. Look at the color of the bowl and then at the crest. The clearer the crest, the younger the wine. Twirl the glass and sniff the ‘bouquet’, then take a mouthful and swish it in your mouth like you are using mouthwash. Finally, swallow and note the aftertaste. We tasted six wines here, but had the option of tossing what we did not care for into a bucket. We tested six wines with an explanation of each one before hand.

The second stop was the Franschoek region. We went to the Goat Wine and Cheese Winery. As you enter, there is a goat yard in the front. The goats have a silo like structure that they are free to climb and rest in a room at the top. We were able to test 2 white wines, then sample the cheeses, then 2 red wines, more cheese, then lastly 2 other wines of our choice. At this winery, we were given a list of the wines we could choose from based on the color of our sticker. We were left to our own devices for making choices, though the wine stewards were there to answer any questions we had. Also, you are on the honor system for sticking to the limit of six samples.

The Romano goat cheese was excellent as was the soft cheese rolled in herbs. There were seven cheeses to test and the samples were unlimited.

For a lunch break, we stopped at an old Huguenot village. It was a small village with one street of stores, restaurants, and tourist items. We all went to the same restaurant where we were able to order off of the menu and it was included in the tour. Beverages were on our own. My chicken Cajun pasta was excellent. Our meeting point after lunch was a handmade chocolate shop down the street. I bought a few pieces that were good, but not outstanding.

Our third and last winery of the day was different than the one advertised. The one we actually went to had a cheetah rescue sanctuary on the grounds. For an additional fee, you could go into the cheetah area and pet them. Robby said that this was the most commercial of all of the wineries, set up to take all of your money the minute you arrived.

The tasting bar was small and the number of wines was limited also. We had five choices to make here. Outside, in a carnival like atmosphere, there is an old African woman who will paint your face according to your personality. She is supposedly able to read your personality and then apply white paint. Robby insisted we each do this, so we complied.

Since I am not much of a wine drinker, of the 17 wines I had tasted, there were none that I was tempted to buy a full bottle.

After returning to the hostel, I ran into the American who wanted to teach abroad. His story thickened. He had a job in France, but did not apply for his Visa in time TWICE, so he was fired before he even started. He has been in South Africa for 6 weeks so far and was supposed to have left for Johannesburg two days ago, but kept missing his bus. Again today, he was going to leave, but once again, missed the bus. Supposedly, he has a degree from UCLA, though I cannot imagine it; he is a real flake. We went to Checkers for dinner food. There are still lots of people here, we thought it would clear out for Christmas, but it looks like many do not do the holiday traditional thing that Americans hold in such high regard.

We went to the Labia theater to see The History of Violence with Nicolas Cage. The guy in front of us kept turning around and he looked annoyed that someone had left the door open. Eventually, he called Ron forward and whispered something. I was fuming thinking he was annoyed by us. Later, Ron said that the comment was that OUR fidgeting was ‘off putting’ and to please stop it. We had not moved.

I had forgotten to mention, we found our bead animal artist. His new giraffe is gorgeous, but due to having to line up all of the beads for the spots, it is much higher than the others at 900 Rand. We did buy the buffalo. We did get his e-mail so we can try to get him some business. He is from Zimbabwe, but teaches criminals the beadwork as rehab. He is very sweet. E-mail is wirebundu@yahoo.com Gilbert phone – 0721006430

1 Comment

  1. Hi,
    Just wanted to second the opinion above about Gilbert Khumalo and his wonderful beadwork. We met him last Sunday at the Green Point Arts & Crafts market in Cape Town and bought a beautifull beaded elephant head from him. Awesome stuff!

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