Stellenbosch: Wine and Cheetahs?Cape Town, Spring 2012

I know what you are thinking… wine and cheetahs sounds like an awful combination. But just hear me out…

My roommates and I planned a trip to Stellenbosch, as it is one of the places to see in the Western Cape. It is famous for its beautiful vineyards and wine tastings, so we figured we would give it a try. We planned a weekend trip and we were off!

On Friday we went to a winery named Spier. This vineyard is unique because it is where you can both taste wine and pet cheetahs. (Though it is not recommended that you do both simultaneously).

We decided to do the cheetah petting first. What’s really cool about this outreach center at the winery is that all of the proceeds they make off of tourists go toward the preservation of cheetahs in Southern Africa. They are actually giving farmers that typically shoot cheetahs (because they hunt their livestock) watchdogs that are trained to bark when they see a cheetah hunting. When a cheetah’s hunt is disrupted they typically run away and do not pursue the livestock any further. I thought this was a really interesting, animal-friendly way of preserving the species. We were happy to help the cause.

The only mistake we made was coming around dinnertime. The cheetahs were hungry.

We decided to wait for the cats to be fed; then we went in to pet them. I did not really feel like being made a meal that day, so I was happy to wait.

Just hanging out with the cheetahs!

Up close and personal with Mr. Cheetah!

After we were done petting the cheetahs, we were off to do some wine tasting.

The scenic view was absolutely beautiful.

The Spier winery was the only stop we were going to make on Friday, as we had left a little late after classes, so we really made the most of our time there. We hung out for a very long time and really enjoyed the atmosphere.

Cheers, ladies!

After the tasting we were able to walk around the gardens before the sun set. There was so much to take in. The gardens were beautiful.

Enjoying our stroll through the gardens of the vineyard.

We also stumbled upon the winery restaurant, where the people who stay there dine. Here we met a man who did face paintings… so we figured why not?!

The end result of the face painting.

The next day we went on a full wine tour. We got to see four gorgeous vineyards and really got our money’s worth. It was so much fun. If you are studying abroad in Cape Town, you absolutely have to go to Stellenbosch for the wine. You are missing out if you don’t!

We learned all about the wine making process on our first tour.

All four of the wineries we went to were amazing. Though I do have to say, my favorite was probably Fairview. The people were so nice; and the guy who was helping us choose wines from the list actually let us try one that was not on the list. It was honey flavored and I think it was the best wine I have ever had. I also loved Fairview because they had cheese tastings following the wine tasting. I have never seen so much cheese in my life. And I’ll be honest, my roommies and I went around a couple of times to make sure we had tried them all.

My lovely roommates and I at Fairview Winery.

Though Fairview has my vote, I do have to say that the Dieu Donne Vineyard had, by far, the best view. They were situated right at the bottom of the rolling hills and mountains of Stellenbosch; the view was absolutely breathtaking.

Frolicking through the vineyards! What an incredible view.

And with that, our wine tour was over. We said goodbye to Stellenbosch and headed back to Cape Town. I am so glad we got to plan a weekend trip there; I did not realize what we were missing out on until I experienced it.

Tot volgende keer! (That’s Afrikaans for “Until next time!”) -Rachael

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1 Comment

  1. We did this in 2009; it was one of the highlights of our trip to South Africa. Loved petting the cheetahs and hearing them purr. The vineyards were beautiful and the wine delicious. The only disappointment was not being able to send home a case of sauvignon blanc due to our state’s alcohol restrictions. (We live in PA).

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