Day 4 / Wednesday (written by participant Tamara Iwerks )
We boarded our small bus on a sunny morning bound for Dirtopia, the starting point for our five-kilometer hike through the vineyards. Two small friendly dogs – not quite Corgie and not quite Dachshund, but both super cute – greeted us and one dragged his stomach on the ground in an adorable way.
We actually walked among the vines grown by the wineries we’d be visiting later in the day. A Cape Canary and Cape Eagle Owl were spotted in the trees, Weaver birds and their woven nests were in the reeds. Much to the envy of the group, Lisa T. discovered a spearhead near a South African Pepper Tree. Annelee told us indigenous people traditionally planted pepper trees on their burial sites.
We arrived at Warwick Estate, and sat outside on their terrace under two large English Oaks. The winery boasts SA’s first female wine maker, Norma Radcliff, and the appropriately named “First Lady Cabernet Sauvignon” favored by Michelle Obama on her most recent visit to the country. We learned actor Daniel Craig will be giving up martinis in the next James Bond film in favor of Warwick’s “Three Cape Ladies” red blend. And our favorite newlyweds, Cheryl & Luis, drank from the silver “wedding cup” traditionally used to determine who would be “boss of the house.” Cheryl won.
Quick shuttle to Delheim, a winery with the most beautiful grounds to rival anything I’ve seen anywhere in the world. Six tastings during the course of a most delicious three-course lunch: Cauliflower soup, homemade chicken pie and malva pudding with custard. This might be my personally favorite meal of the trip so far. Seems most of the group left stuffed, slightly sleepy and shivering from a strange plunge in the temperature.
Short stroll down the lane to Muratie for seven more wine tastings. A quaint and historic property with more lush surroundings, including a loquat tree, and more dogs: giant and gentle German Shepherds lying about. We sat in a cellared room with very good original art on the walls from the 1920’s painted by the then-owner…mostly landscapes and nudes of his mistress. Nice place to sit in a food coma. Unfortunately, while the pours were generous, I was too full to drink more than a sip of each. All totaled: 19 tastings on the day!
But wait…there’s more. For those opting to eat again that day we headed a few steps around the corner from the hotel to the Col’Cacchio pizzeria for dinner. I sat down full, sure I could not eat more but found myself polishing off more than half of a huge wood-fired pizza piled with five different fresh veggies. Another delicious meal. Kathryn & Dave treated the crowd to shots of Springbokkies before dinner.
Day 5 / Thursday (written by participant Luis Esquilin)
Long ago I wanted to visit South Africa, the land of my most admired person, Nelson Mandela. I wake to a sunny, crisp morning excited by the prospect of being in such an historic place. Seeing the face of my wife Cheryl puts a smile on my face, as is does every morning. At breakfast I see smiling faces of newfound friends. They, too, seem to have great expectations for the day and as we eat, I hear the chatter of who plans to climb to the top of Table Mountain and who is taking the cable car to the top. The excitement is clear, and when we reach the base of the mountain, we receive the news that the cable car is not operating due to high winds. Plan B for me and my group is to walk down to the base of Lion’s Head Mountain and hike halfway up to the top. When our group reaches the staging point for the hike up Lion’s Head news arrives that the cable car is now open. So, we turn around and walk back to the cable car and up we go! The ride up was spectacular as the cable’s rotating floor allowed us to see magnificent vistas of the face of the mountain, the city and beyond.
At the top, our guide Annelee takes the lead and shows us various points of interest. We crisscross the flat top of the mountain and view one great vista after another: Lion’s Head; the magnificent Atlantic Ocean on one side with its coast line; False Bay; Cape Point; the trail we hiked to reached Cape Point the previous day; Cape Town and its sprawling sight; the Mountains and meadows afar. As the day ends I am filled with a sense of accomplishment and a dream come true.
To see additional photos of the Cape & Winelands by Kris Thomas, click here.