Notorious for their lush vineyards covering the rolling hills of the Western Cape and dedication to making spectacular world renowned wines, I was especially excited to experience wine culture first hand. It wasn’t until arriving to Stellenbosch did I learn that they happen to be well known for their wine around world.
Fun Fact: The production of wine in the Western Cape (primarily in areas such as Stellenbosch, Franshoek, and Paarl) consistently keep South Africa in the Top 8 wine producing countries in the world. Through talking with local friends and our professors we were able to gain insight on the way in which South Africans view wine; their perspectives transcend that of wine being a libation meant for celebratory to having a culture surrounding it. To South Africans, wine doesn’t discriminate in the occasion, socioeconomic class, or age (I always thought wine was a “Mom drink”); it’s appropriate to be enjoyed after a nice hike, at dinner with your friends, or to pass the time in the middle of load-shedding.
Being a novice wine drinker, I saw my time in Stellenbosch to be useful to learn about wines and develop and appreciation for the beverage. Luckily for us, we had the opportunity to visit wineries in the region without breaking the bank (an average wine tasting range from $2-$5.50). This resulted in a total of 12 wine tours over 10 weeks.
Not only can I tell you the differences between a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Shiraz, and a Pinotage; what white wine can pairs best with a spicy chicken dish; and how rosé got it’s groove back– but I now have an understanding a the culture that surrounds wine. It is not a beverage meant to be chugged from a plastic bag or drank from a red solo cup. Wine is meant to be enjoyed and consumed with friends. It has a way of slowing time and helping us take in the minute intricate beauties of the world that surround us. With this knowledge, I plan to share and educate my friends and family making those around me more ~cultured~ and ~sophisticated~ one glass at a time.