Remhoogte – Stellenbosch
After two days in Cape Town, we made the 45 minute drive to Stellenbosch, the Western Cape’s most well-known wine region. As we drove into town it became clear that Stellenbosch benefited from the same staggering natural beauty that we had just experienced in Cape Town. Multiple mountain ranges towered overhead, and the lush green mountainsides were lined with rows of grape vines. We were well aware that the vineyards would be scenic, but we were not expecting the landscape to be this incredibly beautiful.
Before checking into our room, we took a few minutes to admire the incredible views of the Simonsberg Mountains and to catch a glimpse of some of the animals that live on the game farm. This was one of the unique aspects of Remhoogte that drew us here in the first place. There are dozens of vineyards with guest rooms in Stellenbosch, but I’m not sure many of them have wildebeest, zebra and springbok roaming on the grounds of their estates (with fences, of course).
There are two official options for accommodations on the estate, the Zebra Lodge and the Zebra Cottage. Since we booked through Airbnb, we stayed in a guest room attached to the family’s home. Despite being connected to the main house, the guest room was totally private and we had our own bathroom and private patio. Not to mention we were directly across the driveway from the tasting room…
The Tasting Room
While we easily could have spent the entire time playing with the dogs, watching the zebra, and admiring the views, we were at a vineyard after all, and there was wine to be tasted. The tasting room was rustic, and fit perfectly with the ambience of the rest of the estate. From what we came to discover, many of the vineyards that are most popular among tourists are extremely elaborate places. We really appreciated the simplicity of Remhoogte, in both the tasting room and the farm itself. Everything felt very natural almost as if it all blended into the natural surroundings. While we were there, they were working on construction of a new tasting room. From what we could tell it looked as though it would maintain the same rustic style, but with more space, mountain views, and easy access to the outdoor sitting area.
We spent what must have been at least an hour with Diaan, one of the Remhoogte employees, tasting several of the wines produced on the farm, and the dogs never left our side the whole time. We’ll be the first to admit that we are far from being sommeliers. We love wine, but our judgement of quality is more or less binary: there is good wine, and bad wine. This wine most assuredly fell in the category of “good wine”. In particular, the pinotage (signature South African variety) was excellent. If we really knew what we were talking about we would probably describe it as follows: “The palate is opulent with ripe fruit and polished tannins supported by flavours of cumin and white pepper. The acidity is mild and combined with a light tannic grip the wine has great length.” But since we are woefully unsophisticated, we probably said something more along the lines of, “wow this is really good”, and proceeded to pet the dogs.
*Sidenote: It was during our tasting that we learned that we had been butchering the pronunciation of Remhoogte. We were basically saying “Rem-hoot” when in reality it’s pronounced…well, we still can’t really pronounce it. But we weren’t even close. This was not the first nor the last time we would embarrass ourselves with our pronunciation (see Kariega).
In addition to the many varieties of wines produced on the farm, Chris and Rob, the owner’s sons brew craft beer on the grounds of the estate. Craft beer is obviously very much en vogue in the US, but the trend hasn’t exploded to the same extent in South Africa. They’re ahead of the curve, and like their wine, the beer was “very good”. We bought one of the IPA’s and saved it for a sundowner on one of our safaris .
Out of everything that we squeezed into our trip to the amazing country of South Africa, our time in Stellenbosch was the only part that truly felt too short. We easily could have spent several days there, relaxing on the tranquil estate, drinking delicious wine while zebra and wildebeest grazed in the distance and dogs played at our feet. It’s unfortunate that in a world of finite vacation days, some things end up being rushed. Our time at Remhoogte was amazing, but we never wanted to leave.