“No helmet, no ride” says Rea. I’m on a 10 km cycling tour of Stellenbosch with Bikes ‘n Wines and glad to see that they are taking a healthy approach to safety! The steep tracks around Asara, the wine estate we are meeting at, look promising but it might be a rough enough encounter with the ground should you fall off!
After a brief explanation about gears and brakes, the seven of us hop on our bikes to roll down and climb up the vineyard tracks. Nothing too strenuous, but you do need to have an average level of fitness to make it to the top of the hills.
After about 7km and having worked up a sweat, we are ready for our first tasting at the “Skildpadvlei” wine farm. Did you know by the way that there is a difference between a “wine farm” and a “wine estate”? The first one just plants the grapes, whilst the latter also does the pressing. The tasting room at Skildpadvlei is beautifully laid out to try our first white wine of the day: the local Sauvignon Blanc. To our surprise, there are four more wines to be tasted! From a Grenache rosé to a Pinotage, followed by a Shiraz and the ML Joubert, they are all very pleasant to the palate! Our sommelier keeps the explanations to a minimum, leaving more time to enjoy the tasting and socialize with your fellow-cyclists.
But we’re not just here to taste wine of course, there’s some more cycling to do! Rea guides us safely across the main road and back into the vineyard tracks, whilst sharing interesting facts about the various grape varieties and harvest process.
Soon enough we arrive at “Lovane”, a boutique wine estate and with 2.5 hectare, one of the smallest in the area. Our tasting session takes place in the atmospherically lit wine cellar, where I taste one of the most delicious Chenin Blancs since my arrival in South Africa! It pairs really well with fish and chicken and is perfect for a hot summers day.
A last push takes us back to our starting point, the “Asara” wine estate. By now we have tasted nine wines, so we’re a bit relieved to hear that we will “only” taste three here. Accompanied by a tasty lunch, we decide to go for the “Brut method, Cap Classique”, the Cabernet Sauvignon and the “Bell tower”, a full bodied Bordeaux-style blend.
Around 3.30pm, we are officially “wined out” and truly pleased with having visited three very different wine farms/estates. The tour turned out to be a perfect combination of effort mixed with pleasure. There is something satisfying about arriving at a wine estate by bike, it feels like you’ve “earned” your tastings! If you fancy cycling in the beautiful countryside around Stellenbosch, accompanied by breath taking views and some amazing wines then Bikes ‘n Wines are the people to contact!
Have you been on a cycling tour of Stellenbosch? Or a vineyard tour elsewhere on our beautiful planet?
Always looking for inspiration in the comments!