The Wine and Chocolate Experience
Our attempts to get to table mountain were thwarted by the constant table cloth ever since Saturday. But we had a free invite to The Chocolate and Wine Experience (note that it's not just a tasting) out at the Waterford vineyards. We tried to get Warren to go, but he doesn't drink, so we decided not to drag him along kicking and screaming.
The Waterford is a beautiful estate. Check it out at http://waterfordwines.com. It's a taste of tuscany in the western cape.
It could be argued that the entire wine country experience in the Stellenbosch is a show. However, some of the vineyards make the stage less tacky than others. Dellheim and Blaauwklippen are total tourist traps that have "Tacky" stencilled on their nameplates. You stand in line for the tastings, and feel like a high-school kid drinking surreptitiously because you look old enough. Jordan, Warwick and Waterford are class acts, where you are served at a table, and a pretty young waitress explains the libations and encourages you to keep drinking! Seems like it should be a well known secret: make the guest feel welcome and they'll head off hauling a case of wine; treat them like crap and they'll avoid you. This basic theory seems to be missing in many of the vineyards, and it's damn unfortunate. I'm completely making this up, but it's possible that the fact that I'm Indian may have contributed to the bad service at some of these places - I've heard both before and after our trip that inter-racial couples are still a bit of a weirdness in some places in SA.
The Waterford is less than 10 years old, but the setting gives it the air of an old Italian villa which has been tended for a hundred years.
When we went on our jaunts of the different vineyards on Saturday, we mentioned to a few of the waitstaff that we had tried to get to the Waterford and got this wine and choc tasting coupon. Pretty much everyone we told this to was envious. Now we know why. The idea of choc and wine may sound odd and bourgeous and overly decadent, but it works! It's damn nice to sit at the foothills of a mountain, surrounded by vineyards and fake Tuscany and fountains, and sip wine and nibble on fine chocolate. Obviously, we ended up bringing back a few bottles - the stuff really is that good! Definitely an Experince, rather than a Tasting.
If you're interested in the Waterford, or visiting them, their info is on their website.