Wine tasting in Hermanus with Hermanus Wine Hoppers
Hermanus. Sea, whales and great seafood. But wineries? I had never connected the two. While planning our trip we came across Hermanus Wine Hoppers. Put simply, they get you to the wineries, you do the rest.
Here’s how it works:
Hermanus Wine Hoppers picks you up from your Hermanus accomodation at 10:30 a.m.;
Until 4:30 p.m. They take you to up to 6 wineries;
The driver ensures that you can get into the winery, I.e. Not sitting around waiting. If the winery is busy, they simply take you to the next winery and come back later;
A driver comes to pick you up after half an hour. If you are not ready he simply moves on and another comes half an hour later, continuing until 4:30, or you are ready to leave;
They deliver you back to your accomodation at the end of the tour;
You pay the cost of the wine tasting at each winery;
A couple of wineries offer food, so you can get some lunch, with one, Creation Wines, needing pre-booking.
Our Wine Hopping Trip
Well, we managed three wineries and lunch. And then it was 4:30. One thing that has to be said, when you taste wines you are supposed to spit out the sample. Probably like most non-aficionados, we swallow!
I am not going to try and critique all of the wines we tasted. You’ll need to do the trip to do that. Here are the wineries we visited.
True to their Afrikaans heritage, all Hermanpietersfontein wines have Afrikaans names.
Very professional in their approach, we were offered 4 wines to taste of a selection of 7 for ZAR30.
Our favourites were the light Kaalvoet Meisie Sauvignon Blanc and the Shiraz blend Skoonma.
Whalehaven were very laid back, and, in our view, the best ambience of all of the wineries.
For the wine taster Whalehaven offer just wine to taste or, for ZAR60 a wine and chocolate matching taste session. This was our choice and well worth it. The chocolates, with their specific flavours are produced exclusively for Whalehaven, who boast a number of awards received for their efforts.
Our favourite combination here was the Pinot Noir matched with the Rooibos and rose chocolate.
Abalone Chenin Blanc matched with orange blossom white chocolate. The wine is named for the support which the winery gives to the prevention of poaching of abalone along the Hermanus coast.
A Merlot matched with lavender chocolate. The combination delivers and interesting mint flavour which would go well with a roast lamb dinner.
Pinotage with a dark chocolate.
The Bouchard Finlayson winery is situated in the beautiful Hemel-en-Aarde (translated as Heaven-and-Earth) valley. It comes across as old, but at the same time modern and sophisticated. Bouchard Finlayson claims to be the most awarded boutique winery in South Africa.
Bouchard Finlayson offered 3 wines to taste for ZAR20, or 6 for ZAR40.
My thoughts on their wine:
Galpin pinot Noir – very smooth. I could drink that regularly.
Hannibal – a unique blend of Italian and French styles. Not bad at all.
Crocodiles Lair Chardonnay – I am not a fan of Chardonnay, but this was my favourite at this winery.
Not far up the road from Bouchard Finlayson, on the Hemel-en-Aarde ridge, we came to Creation Wines.
At the beginning of the tour we had been asked if we wanted lunch, and it was pointed out that we would need to book. Hermanus Wine Hoppers sorted out the booking for us. So this was our lunch stop.
Creation offer a few choices of wine and food matching. The biggest one being “The Story of Creations”. This is a 7 course, small plate meal, each plate being matched with a sample of appropriate wine. cost is ZAR 395.
As we were hungry we chose the larger plate, 3 course meal, again with matched wine samples being served. The diner does, of course have the option to buy the wine by the glass.
This really was fine dining, with superb food and matching wine served with a very professional chat about the wine. The wine samples were small, but there was no hesitation in providing another sample when a glass was empty. Cost was on enquiry, but came to about £25 each.
Heading Home after an Excellent Day Out
The meal at Creation Wines was a great experience, in a beautiful setting. We took our time, and spent spent 3 hours there, finishing and being picked up by Wine Hoppers at 4:30. No time to do any more wineries. I think we were all “wined out” at that point anyway.
Hermanus Wine Hoppers deliver top class service. They are very attentive, but unobtrusive, not interfering with the pleasure of the day. Transport is safari style in a bakkie (light pickup) properly set up with seats and canvas canopy. When we hit some cold and Windy weather on the Hemel-en-Aarde road the driver was very quick to ensure that we were all dry and had blankets to keep warm.
Definitely a tour I would do again, and highly recommend.
A lasting memory from my 2010 Hermanus visit is walking into town and eating breakfast under a tree looking over Walker Bay.
Of course, in 2017, we had to find that tree. It wasn’t hard, it is in the Burgundy Restaurant right on the edge of the bay.
Our group enjoyed a varied selection of breakfast dishes and club sandwiches. All well served and very tasty. Highlight of the meal seems to have been the eggs benedict, served, unusually, with chicken livers instead of ham or bacon. That’s a dish that none of us had ever tried.
All, of course, sitting in the open air with a view over the bay. hard to beat that.
Breakfast view over the bay
The “after breakfast” part was also interesting, but at this point it is necessary to add a side comment. In our family, on weekends and holidays, “breakfast” is typically any food eaten before about 2:00 p.m. In fact the Burgundy Restaurant stops serving breakfast at 10:00 a.m., but agreed to serve us a good hour later. so the drinking of alcohol immediately after breakfast was quite acceptable.
The restaurant was running a gin tasting promotion for a brand called “Three Dogs”. A couple of the group sampled three different gins, with tonic. Not to outdone those who preferred beers washed down breakfast with beer shandies.
I’m told that rosemary and blueberry gin is not great, but pomegranate, and mandarin and thyme are pretty good.
Gin tasting with a sea view.
True to the memory of my earlier breakfast, it was a great breakfast experience and one I would happily repeat.
The menu looks interesting, and the restaurant is popular, judging by the number of people there. I would certainly like to try out a few other meals here. Next trip maybe?
Our visit to Bientang’s Cave was planned right at the start of our trip. A getting together of friends in Hermanus over an extended lunch in a great spot. It was everything we had wished for and more.
What and Where is Bientang’s Cave
Bientang’s Cave is a restaurant situated on the rocks on the Hermanus seafront in an old strandloper cave. Tables are positioned on the rocks, giving the visitor a great view of Walkers Bay With luck, at the right time of year, you’ll see whales.
We had planned to sit out on the rocks, as close to the sea as possible. As the wheather wasn’t perfect we moved back to the main body of the restaurant. That proved to be a good plan, as we did see a few people getting their feet wet at tables on the rocks.
The menu offers a range of dishes including steak and burgers, but is very clearly a seafood menu. With prawns at the top of our choices, a good spread of seafood potjie, seafood curry and seafood platters was eaten. Of course these are “proper” prawns, much bigger than anything you’ll see outside of top restaurants in the UK.
For me an excellent snoek pate was followed by one of my favourites, a seafood potjie, though it was difficult choice between potjie and Malay seafood curry.
There was no rushing this meal – it took all afternoon, with a fair amount of South African wine consumed as well.
And the Whales
A couple of whales were seen nearby, with some activity out in the bay.
With most of our group having three courses it worked out to under ZAR450 a head. Now I am not sure how that works out for South Africans, but for the UK tourist that’s around £26 each. Excellent value.
If you are visiting this part of the world, a meal at Bientang’s cave is a must. Great food at good value.
As a footnote, on our last full day in Hermanus, after spending the day just sitting around and seeing the sights, we opted for a late lunch at Bientang’s Cave. Just as good as the first time around!