Hi Andre. What do you feel makes the Cape Winelands so special?
I’ve been working in the wine industry for nearly 30 years and in my opinion this is the best wine destination in the world. The proximity of the Winelands to Cape Town is unique: people can enjoy iconic city sights and then, in under an hour’s drive, be sampling local wines among the vines in Stellenbosch or Franschhoek. Within a three-hour radius you can visit 10 wine regions easily. And for UK travellers, it’s a simple flight to Cape Town in a straight line north to south, so there’s no jet lag.
What’s the local food like?
You’re really spoilt for choice with restaurants in the Winelands. And it’s very affordable, along with our wines. There’s a move away from the theatre of molecular gastronomy made popular by Ferran Adrià and Heston Blumenthal. Food here is becoming more real — more authentic.
In one of the oldest buildings in Stellenbosch, we have the restaurant De Volkskombuis, which means ‘the people’s kitchen’. And this was the food that I grew up with: traditional Cape-Dutch cuisine, that evolved in home kitchens over generations. Dishes such as waterblommetjie bredie, a lamb stew made with a little flower that lives in the marshes and dams here in the Western Cape.
Which wines do visitors absolutely have to try?
A lot of people will immediately think of Vin de Constance, which was supposedly the first wine that was made in Constantia. It was already being drunk in Europe in the 18th century; Napoleon had it at his deathbed at Saint Helena. But I think in the last two decades or so, we’ve really started redefining ourselves.
Pinotage is our national grape, developed in the 1920s by Professor Perold in Stellenbosch. It’s a unique, interesting grape, and we’re still learning how to manage it. It’s producing beautiful, world-acclaimed wines. Our flag bearers are pinotage for red and, for white, our chenin blanc.