Exploring The Cape Winelands of South Africa – Doris Jansen and Kay Leresche (Meadowlark Publishers, 2013) – R275
Guide books abound for Cape Town and the Western Cape. They cover a multitude of tourist, historic and adventure activities as well as being written in a number of different formats. ‘Exploring The Cape Winelands’ is one for the wine lover.
The book selects 101 of the best wineries in the Cape Winelands and features them in 10 day `routes’ from Cape Town. The routes take the reader to: the Cape Peninsula, Durbanville, Stellenbosch South, Stellenbosch Central, Stellenbosch West, Stellenbosch North, Franschhoek, Paarl, Elgin and Hermanus. Details of a further 250 estates are listed in the Directory at the rear of the book.
It must have been a monumental task for the authors to visit so many wineries and then to limit the published number to 101. They excluded those open only by appointment and selected the remainder from those that met the following criteria: good wine, good views, historical buildings, a beautiful setting, special attractions, quality of the wine tasting experience, and restaurants and picnic areas.
The result is a book that is lavishly illustrated with superb photos. I enjoyed the clear maps at the start of each route Chapter with each of the estates depicted by a bunch of grapes. I liked too that the temptation to plan specific driving routes has been avoided. I rarely manage to taste at more than 2 vineyards in a day and so the ‘routes’ allow me to select a few vineyards from within one specific area. Sensibly too, the Stellenbosch wine District is divided into 4 Chapters – South, Central, West and North.
Each winery is described in a single page or two. This gives the reader enough information to decide whether to visit whilst at the same time not giving too much away to ruin a tasting. The information panel beside each narrative concisely gives all the essential information in an easy-to-read format: address, contact number, website, GPS coordinates, Owner, Winemaker, annual production, wines produced, tasting times and fee, restaurant and other attractions.
‘Exploring The Cape Winelands’ does all it sets out to do and does it well. The authors have managed to publish a book that serves many purposes – guide book, journey planner, reference book and coffee table book -without failing in any genre. That is no easy task. I use the book mostly for planning trips from Cape Town and for reference whilst writing the blog. To this end, an index at the back would not have been out of place and a useful addition. The 2013 version is the First Edition and I would like to see an updated copy before long.
Meanwhile, I shall enjoy exploring the Cape winelands with this book well tucked under my arm.