In South Africa for two weeks last November, living a Travelife, we spent about a week driving around and discovering the beautiful attractions of Cape Town and its surrounding areas.
Most visitors also flock to the beautiful and historic estate of Vergelegen for the award-winning wines.
Vergelegen’s wines are said to be among the few from this part of the world that can truly rival those of Bordeaux, and they’ve received over 200 awards over the past 12 years.
Two of Vergelegen’s wines have received ratings of 94 or above from the prestigious International Wine Cellar.
THE PERFECT COMBINATION
FOR A PERFECT AFTERNOON
Wine drinking is an intensely personal experience. But if you must visit only one winery on a trip to South Africa, Vergelegen should be it for this rare and truly delightful winning combination.
We drove over from the picturesque town of Franschhoek, where we were staying, one beautiful morning. It was a very nice hour’s drive, passing a lot of wineries along the way.
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A NOT TOO SERIOUS HEAVYWEIGHT
Sharon Hosking had met us at their wine tasting center, a very modern facility that was part art museum and part Michelin-starred restaurant in feel.
The winery’s modern sculptures were impressive, but I remember most the interesting and rather quirky chandelier fashioned out of ordinary cylindrical boxes.
It spoke to me of an establishment that knows when not to take itself too seriously.
“You’ve picked the perfect day to visit us,” Sharon said, by way of greeting.
Indeed, the weather was fine and the sun was shining in a way that made even their garden sheds worthy of a photo.
Every meal in South Africa happily involved a pot of rooibos tea somehow. And now, in Manila, I can’t start or end a day without it. It’s a good thing I stocked up…
THE FAMOUS ROSE GARDENS
AND A GREAT FORMULA FOR LIVING
We immediately hit it off, and together we walked the estate and toured the most historic buildings, admiring the giant 300-year-old camphor trees and Vergelegen’s famous rose gardens with over 100 species in full bloom along the way.
Many visitors flock to Vergelegen just for the roses alone.
We had lunch with Sharon Hoskings, Vergelegen’s #2. At this moment, we’re all listening to our options for lunch…
“This must be a wonderful place to live and work in,” I said to her, as we eventually headed towards their fine dining restaurant for lunch.
The mountains and coasts around Cape Town are simply beautiful, and the bountiful produce from farm and sea, made even more palatable by wines that flow like water in this part of the world, certainly make this an irresistible formula for living.
“It’s not bad,” Sharon replied with a smile. “Life could certainly be worse.”
A MOST ENJOYABLE LUNCH
As mentioned earlier, Camphors at Vergelegen just opened two weeks before our visit, and we were among the lucky first to sample their final opening menu.
This was someone’s starter at Vergelegen. I forgot who ordered it as I took photos of everything.
Here we enjoyed a three-hour, three-course lunch outdoors, under the restaurant trellis with a view of the gardens, drinking wines that had been specially matched to our meal.
And all afternoon, the three of us drank wine and talked about travel and life. Of course. It’s a Travelife.
Again, I don’t remember which of us ordered this one. But I do recall that it was absolutely delicious.
In particular, we discussed the many amazing destinations in Africa begging to be discovered by first-timers like ourselves.
Our beautiful set of amuse bouche. Too lovely to eat, actually.
I still remember every detail of that lunch, including the velvety flavors of the red wine, the scent of herbs that wafted from a nearby garden, and the way the chocolate dessert melted in my mouth.
I also can’t forget the general happiness all around the table, prompted by a very good meal and excellent company on one of the best days of summer so far in Cape Town.
This photo makes me so happy. I remember the joy of seeing this work of art.
THE JOYS OF A TRAVELIFE
On a Travelife, one never forgets the breathtaking sunsets, the jaw-dropping views or the palatial hotels.
But a memorable trip is also made up of little things like what I’ve just described here — the simple joys of a Travelife on a day of wine and roses.
The grand entrance to La Residence
And then we drove back to Franschhoek to check into La Residence, one of the most amazing hotels I’ve ever stayed in.
Simply beautiful but that’s another story. In fact, it’s coming out in the February-March issue of Travelife Magazine. Make sure you get a copy from February 15.
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