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Exploring Stanford and its Wineries
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Stanford is the newest wine route to make itself known and I was delighted to explore the area on a recent media trip.

I grew up in Hermanus and so I thought Stanford was an area I knew, but a lot has happened since then!

I was surprised to discover that there are now 8 wineries in the Stanford Wine Route; viz Boshrivier Wines, Misty Mountains, Raka Wines, Sir Robert Stanford Estate, Stanford Hills, Springfontein, Vaalvlei Wines, Walker Bay Vineyards (Birkenhead Brewery), each offering a unique sense of provenance, wine styles, varieties and hospitality.
From Grappa stills at Sir Robert Stanford - to fisher stories at Raka from the inimitable Piet Dreyer, to comfortable country cottages thoughtfully decorated at Stanford Hills.  I was delighted to meet my cousin Jami Yeats-Kastner at Stanford Hills, who runs the farm with her wine-maker hubby Peter Kastner. Our families go back a long way.

If you are looking for a really quiet spot to contemplate your navel, then Stanford Hills is certainly the place to do it.  There are various options for accommodation, from quaint cottages to rooms in the manor house, which has been lovingly restored over the years. They have a very open and warm restaurant called The Tasting Room, and we were treated to a fabulous dinner of delicious pork belly, moroccan lamb, mushroom gnocchi and malay chicken curry. Their steely Sauvignon Blanc & very plummy Veld Fire & Jackson Pinotage got everyone talking and smacking their lips. The setting is very casual and the food is top quality. I had friends staying over in the cottage next to me as it happened and they too were raving about the food.

To settle the tummies at the end of the evening there, we were treated to a glass of the Stanford Hills Pinotage Grappa.  I was not sure if you could really taste which grapes skins the grappa was made from, but Peter assured me this was eminently possible! It must be very satisfying making grappa as it uses up all the extraneous material produced during wine-making, viz the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems. I once enjoyed an early morning espresso and grappa with George dalla Cia, and I must say I really like the idea of starting the day Italian style.

Caledon and its surrounds is really a wheat growing part of the world but the soils of the Akkedisberg (between Stanford and Napier) are really perfect soils for vines, and when Piet Dreyer bought his farm from an Italian farmer with cash hard earning through his fishing business, he eventually planted vines at the Italian's prompting and he has not looked back.

Raka really is a family farm and the 4 children all work at the farm. When I call the farm to speak to anyone - I am often told 'Hulle is op die land' which means they are farming the land! I am sure they will miss Jorika soon as she will be moving off the farm when marrying her sweatheart who lives in Ceres.  

One of my favourite Raka wines is their Biography Shiraz and if you are after something a little lighter I would recommend the Spliced!  They have also packaged their Quinary (made of 5 varietals) in a lovely box called the LUXUS.  This also includes a bottle of each of the varietals which make up the Quinary.. A stunning and delicious gift!  

Jan Malan - owner of Sir Robert Stanford Wines - assured us that his farm is one of the oldest wine farms in the Overberg, with the story going that in 1935 the last existing wines were all pulled out and the wines in the barrels let out as their newly found religious beliefs led the owners to believe wine would lead them astray.  It took more than 60 years before vines were planted there again by Jan.  With the impending severe climatic changes expected in the Western Cape - he feels that this is the best place to plant vines.  He bottles only about 3% of his own wines, with the rest going into top end brands like Graham Beck and others.
Their Pinot Noir had all the media looking very dreamy! My favourite was their strong Hansom Cab - delicious strong Cabernet Sauvignon.

Our media trip was 3 days long, but I could only participate for one day - so missed a lot of the rest of the wineries - Springfontein where Tariro Masayiti now makes wines, as well as Vaalvlei, where owner Naas Terblanche has a passion for frogs! Hence their Western Leopard Toad labels.

It is always good to leave something or somewhere wanting more.. so I definitely have something to look forward to.

For more on the Stanford Wine Route - email stanfordwr@gmail.com or call 028 316 3211
Stanford forms part of the Wine Routes of South Africa - see more HERE


Tel: +27.283410676   Fax: +27.866065462   Email: info@rakawine.co.za  
P.O. Box 124 , Caledon, 7230, South Africa