Tour Guide Barbie ………… I mean Karen

April 27th, 2011 by karen

One of the highlights of my business is taking guests on tours through our winelands of the Western Cape.  This way I get to experience our country through fresh eyes several times a month, who wouldn’t be happy with that!

I don’t often get the opportunity to take photos and report back with the never ending questions, explanations, stories and exchanges that we have on these outings but this month I was adamant that I wanted to open up a glimpse into “a day in the life of a tour guide in the cape winelands” for my blog readers

Kleine Zalze Tasting Room

Unity of wine - Finland, Brazil & South Africa speaking one language

Kleine Zalze ( is a fabulous estate in Stellenbosch.  They are one of the farms that open the earliest which is a necessity when you only have a day to share such a large portion of our winelands magic.  In summer their long tables outside with gorgeous garden views are fabulous, and in winter the cozy indoors area works well.  Alexia helped us select our wines out of their large range allowing us to tailor our choices to best suit each palate (I’m loving their Gamay Noir nicely chilled! Along with other timeless classics such as their Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay).

Chabivin MCC 2007

I had heard about Hendrik Snyman making some amazing MCC at Chabivin ( and on mentioning this option to the group their eyes sparkled.  It seems I am not the only one with an obsession for MCC!  Their Andre Blanc de Blanc Brut 2004 which has been on lees for 6 years was incredible.  Amazing freshness, despite the time on lees, but with the complexity of the brioche and certainly able to stand up to food if necessary.  Unfortunately this MCC is basically sold out but their newly released 2007 MCC offers its own delights.  They also stock the Charbuat range of Champagnes with Hendrik pouring us a 2000 vintage that he had open.  With a relaxed atmosphere, small lunch menu offering and friendly personal service  from a passionate and informative Hendrik, I highly recommend you add a long visit round the fireplace at Chabivin to your next Stellenbosch outing!

1959 Charbaut from a recent tasting

Our last stop in Stellenbosch was at Bilton ( for a wine and chocolate tasting

Wine & Chocolate Tasting at Bilton

We were expertly guided through the history of the estate and onto the irresistible tastes of rich Belgian chocolate perfectly paired with their acclaimed wines.  The favourites were the white peach and passion fruit in the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc paired with a guava-and-pear-infused white Belgian chocolate, and the masculine delights of tobacco and tomato leaf in the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a mocha-infused dark Belgian chocolate.  I appreciate the “older” 2006 vintage red wines we were given to savour, and the flagship Sir Percy still won out as top favourite amongst the guests

My guests then had 2 hours free time in Franschhoek for lunch and exploring the nooks and crannies that the historical town has to offer before our final stop at Laborie (

Laborie Cape Dutch architecture

This Paarl based estate has beautiful views over Paarl Rock, a lovely restaurant and also stays open till 5 over weekends, again a bonus with time pressures!  They also host a lazy days market on Saturdays with fabulous fare all round!  Their range of wines makes the estate an overall “crowd-pleaser” from their Blanc de Blanc through to white and reds and finishing with their Pineau (their latest vintage was still unlabelled but is due to be released shortly)

The drive back into Cape Town is always more talkative and noisy than the way out with guests feeling comfortable sharing their highlights of the day and making plans for their next trip which becomes a necessity with the little “taster” they have now experienced

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