Thelema – Stellenbosch
The second Stellenbosch wine estate we visited after Remhoogte was Thelema Mountain Vineyards. Thelema is located at the top of the Helshoogte pass directly across the road from the famous Delaire Graff Estate, and the mountain views as you approach the vineyard are as good as they get in Stellenbosch.
Heading east on Helshoogte Road from the center of Stellenbosch, you’ll arrive at a shared entrance to Tokara and Thelema and the small parking area for Thelema is located at the end of the dirt road. The setting of the estate is incredibly picturesque, although from our brief experience in Stellenbosch it seems that picturesque is pretty much par for the course. The rows of vines run along the base of the surrounding mountains and stately oak trees shade the entryway to the estate. The estate actually used to be a dilapidated fruit farm which was eventually bought by a man named Gyles Webb, an accountant turned wine farmer, in 1983. Definitely a wise career choice on his part.
The tasting room had much more contemporary vibe than the one at Remhoogte. Not that one was better or worse than the other; they were just completely different built-environments despite their nearly identical natural settings. It was nice getting some variety in our short Stellenbosch experience. The floor-to-ceiling glass doors led to a deck overlooking rows of grape vines with the mountains towering in the background. On one side of the room, large glass windows overlooked wooden barrels, and on the other a window offered a glimpse into a room full of wine tanks.
The tasting, of course, was the best part of the entire experience. The tasting room manager, Crescenda, was extremely knowledgeable and made sure we learned a thing or two about all the wine we were drinking. By far the most unusual/memorable wine we tasted was the mint cabernet. While it isn’t an everyday wine, it was strangely delicious. The regular cabernet was excellent too. The tasting included wines from Thelema as well as Sutherland, another vineyard owned by the same family located about an hour south of Stellenbosch. The differences in climate and terroir between Thelema and Sutherland made for noticeable differences between wines of the same variety. Even novices like ourselves could tell the difference.
We unfortunately only spent significant time at two wine estates during our time in Stellenbosch, but we can honestly say that we loved both. Our sample size is obviously small, but you definitely won’t regret. visit to Thelema Mountain Vineyards.