Afrikaans, Architecture, & Ernie Els
Trip Start Oct 24, 2005
331Trip End Ongoing
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What I did
Ernie Els Winery
Historic Town Center
Established in 1679, Stellenbosch is South Africa's second-oldest European settlement. Today it is a major university town and the heart of South Africa's wine country. The city has done a wonderful job protecting and restoring its historic buildings, making it a fantastic spot to wander around and soak up some history. We planned to do as much of that as possible, and Konrad also wanted to get out to the Ernie Els Winery for a tasting.
It was a fairly short drive to Stellenbosch from Franschhoek, and by 10:00am, Konrad was parallel parking our little Hyundai in front of a fine example of Cape architecture. After stopping in the tourist information center, we budgeted an hour for our little walking tour and hit the streets. We stopped in a variety of churches, the town botanical gardens, and a museum or two, then grabbed a map and tried to navigate our way to the Ernie Els Winery.
Within five minutes of leaving the town center, we found ourselves in wine country. A winding drive down a narrow road lined with row after row of grapevines took us to the incredible and uber-luxurious Ernie Els Winery. The weather was absolutely sublime, and we were able to enjoy it to the fullest as we relaxed on the back terrace, sipping a variety of whites and reds and looking out over the grape "fields" and up to the mountains behind them.
The tasting was very different from that at Graham Beck's the day before. Whereas the other had been free, this one cost 30 rand (only about $4). The tasting at Ernie Els was outdoors at private tables and the sommeliers came to each table periodically with the next wine and some brief information; at Graham Beck, we sat at a long bar inside and had constant contact with the wine steward. Neither was better than the other, they were just markedly different -- and both very enjoyable.
It would have been easy to while away the afternoon relaxing there in the sunshine, but we wanted to see the sights in Franschhoek as well, so it was back in the car and heading east before the day got away from us.