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Explore Sideways: The (Wine) Route Less Travelled

Explore Sideways: The (Wine) Route Less Travelled

Living in Cape Town, I’ve often driven out to the Cape Winelands to sip and swirl my way around a wine estate or three. But with so many to choose from, I invariably end up at the same tried-and-tested farms as everyone else. 

Then I spent the day with Explore Sideways, who seem to know the winelands better than their own back yards. The four estates they took us to each offer a completely different experience, none of which I'll soon forget. It was clear that we were in excellent hands when we arrived at an estate and the winemaker came out for a chat, or we were shown to our own private tasting room.

And you don't have to be a wine buff either: whether you're passionate about pinot noir or simply looking for a relaxed day out, Explore Sideways will pick the farms that perfectly match your palate. 

Avondale Wine Tasting & Tour

Avondale: An Introduction to Biodynamic Farming

Our day started at Avondale, where we were welcomed with a glass of their Methode Cap Classique. This beautiful estate practices biodynamic farming, and we were taken on a behind-the-scenes vineyard tour to find out more.

I love their idea of a gentler, more respectful farming practices. And, while talk of preparations buried in cow horns and field broadcasters on lei lined did raise an eyebrow or two, no one could dispute that their vineyards look incredibly healthy. As for their organic method of pest control, the duck mobile was a smash hit!

Jordan wine tasting & cellar tour

Jordan Estate: Wine Tasting & Cellar Tour 

Next it was on to Jordan Winery. Along with its wines, this estate is known for its highly acclaimed restaurant and excellent bakery – both overlooking a peaceful dam.

Our stop included a cellar tour, and it was wonderful walking out of the sunshine into the cool, barrel-lined cellar. Jordan makes barrel-fermented white wines, along with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Once again a tasting was in order, and I particularly enjoyed their Bordeaux blend called Cobblers Hill. 

Cavalli lunch, wine tasting & art

Cavalli Estate: Superb Lunch & Contemporary Art  

By now we were all feeling in a particularly good mood, and it was time for lunch. Cavalli Estate is a chic and contemporary wine and stud farm. We were led to a table overlooking the lake, and treated to an excellent 3-course meal complimented by their Pink Pony Rose.

After lunch we went to their elegant tasting room, which has a more masculine feel than the other estates we visited. As with all our stops so far, the wines were excellent. The estate also has a contemporary gallery which showcases their private collection of modernist South African art.

Hidden Valley chocolate & wine pairing

Hidden Valley: Chocolate & Wine Pairing 

We ended this incredible day on a sweet note with a chocolate and wine pairing at Hidden Valley. Each hand-crafted chocolate had been carefully selected to enhance the flavours of their wines - and the results were delicious!

As a real treat, our tasting was hosted by the winemaker herself Annalie van Dyk. Then, when we went to the Hidden Valley art gallery, we were introduced to sculptor Willie Botha who chatted to us about the life-size leopard bronzes that he was working on.

Four estates, four completely different experiences. But no two tours with Explore Sideways are the same, it all depends on your particular tastes 

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