Day 83, Year 6 Stellenbosch Wine Tour
Date: Saturday, January 15, 2011
Weather: Beautiful Day, More Wind Than Expected
Location: Simon’s Town, Western Cape, South Africa

It was another great day for us in South Africa. He hopped on the train early to meet Piet Hein and Tory of Double Dutch in the town of Claremont. Here we were able to get the money that had been transferred to Piet Hein for the sale of our Monitor windvane and dinghy wheels and then get it exchanged into US dollars. After the money exchange, we did a little shopping at Dis Chem to get more sprouting seeds for ourselves and for the crew of Bahita (from Maine). We had coffee in a sidewalk café and then headed into one of the many wine routes in the Western Cape, the Stellenbosch wine route, with more than 150 vineyards. Once you get just a little north of the greater Cape Town Area, you are in the Cape Flats which are just that. Flat lands with towering mountains further to the north as the backdrop. In those flats are many of the black and colored townships with acres and acres of shanties built of scrap sheet metal and wood. In places there were shanties jammed one against the other as far as you could see. This was our first glimpse of poverty in the southern Cape area and it was a depressing sight for sure. The government is building tiny little box-like houses, but as soon as they go up, someone else builds a shanty adjacent to it. Everyday more and more people move from the north into the Western Cape, so for now there is no end to this problem. As our guide on the Robben Island bus tour said, South Africa is currently in a sweet and sour state. It is a beautiful county, but there are many problems to be solved with a have-have not population. Seeing the acres of shanties was an eye-opener for us.

After we drove out of the Cape Flats, we were immediately in beautiful wine country. Now everywhere we looked all we could see was one vineyard after another, some in the flat lands with many others climbing up the sides of the mountains. We drove into the town of Stellenbosch and this is where the history lesson began. Stellenbosch was the second settlement in South Africa, following Cape Town. Today it is the home of the University of Stellenbosch. All of the original buildings in the town have been restored and look brand new, but nothing on the outside of the buildings has been changed in the past 320+ years. Each home and building is labeled with a heritage sign that indicates that only layers of paint have been added. Stellenbosch is truly a lovely town with oak-lined streets. Once out of town we were in the midst of Stellenbosch wine country. The oldest building in the Stellenbosch area dates back to1689 and today we had lunch on the patio outside that building on the wine farm of Muratie. Even the cobwebs in the building have been preserved! But despite the cobwebs, it was a delightful setting for a wine and cheese lunch. Muratie was and is a Dutch vineyard, but further up the mountain we visited Delheim, a German vineyard established in the 1950’s. When Spatz Sperling arrived from Germany to work on his uncle’s farm, he took his uncle’s vision and turned the farm into one of South Africa’s many award winning vineyards. Delheim is not South Africa’s oldest vineyard, but the mountainside setting with a view of Table Mountain is really incredible. Our next stop was another relative young vineyard, Simonsberg. And from there we drove up the side of another mountain to a much older vineyard, Hartenberg. In our tour, we had a taste of the very old and the new, and found the total experience most interesting. But it was now time to head back to Simon’s Town as we still needed to stop along the way for us to buy fresh eggs and the last few fresh veggies for our Atlantic crossing.

We drove back to Simon’s Town along the coastal route and arrived at the False Bay Yacht Club just in time for Happy Hour. Pieter and Carla of Odulphus and Jan and Ellen of Witchcraft joined Piet Hein, Tory, Mark, and I. It was six for the Dutch and only two for the USA so much of the conversation was in Dutch. At one point, the whole group broke out in song in honor of the famous Dutch pirate, Piet Hein. We did learn one Dutch phrase this evening–Ik (ick) vinz (vint)-which means ‘in my opinion.’ I think we will remember that one.

During the evening we talked to our son Justin, his wife Jo, and grandbaby Ziggy. Ziggy was cutting apart his wooden fruit (it is velcroed together so little ones can use a wooden knife to separate). He offered us a piece of orange, so we took and quickly grabbed a tangerine and started eating it for real. Then Ziggy wanted a real orange and I think he ate three before we ended the conversation. We are so anxious to see Ziggy, Jonah, and Sam and watch them playing for real instead of through a computer monitor. We will call our daughter tomorrow to see Sam and Jonah, and then it will be a couple of months before we reach the Caribbean and can see them again.

Today was windier than expected here, but we heard that in Cape Town there was absolutely no wind and the boats in the Cape to Rio Race had to leave with flapping sails. There was not even enough wind to fly spinnakers. We are hoping that tomorrow will be calm here so we can get our main sail and Doyle stack pack both back up. That is the last big job we have to do before feeling like we are prepared to leave. We are hoping for an early Monday take-off, but right now Tuesday morning is looking better. We just have to get ready to go and then to wait see what the weather is really like.

110115 Day 83 South Africa–Stellenbosch Wine Country
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