Recently I felt privileged for an invite to join a group of 6 giggling girls all tightly connected with affiliation to their own version of The Freemasons. Thankfully they didn’t have any silly hand shake for me to learn but if the shrill of their laughter is anything to go by then that would be the only rule to joining and potentially staying in the group. Laugh hard, play hard, share, support each other and spend every moment having a complete ‘jol’. Party poopers are a ‘no no’. Lee-Ann is one of my dearest friends from my college days and having recently reconnected (as though we’d never lost contact) she asked me to join a wine tasting day trip along with her friends so that she could try out her new VW Caravelle bus. I jumped at this great opportunity to fill my otherwise very boring and laborious hours and offered to arrange some chocolate tasting to further enhance our experience.
As the group gathered this past Sunday morning with strict instructions by the Boot Camp Instructor to be there no later than 09h00, the mothers and married ladies teased how the singletons were late. Not surprising when a mother’s day starts at 05h00 (sometimes earlier). We gathered for initial photos (our best sober shot) and admired Lee-Ann’s new vehicle purchase. Teasing her that the vehicle was more like a local taxi it wasn’t long before our accents changed and we were whistling and screaming the taxi route ‘shout out’ most commonly used which is ‘Kenilworth, Wynberg, Claremont, Mowbray’.
Climbing into the van and fighting over seats reminded me of my childhood. No matter the age it doesn’t take long before one regresses to the mentality of sibling rivalry between the ages of 6 – 10. We appreciated the interior of the van and fiddled about with all the electronic gizmos, before we started asking whether we could have some onboard snacks and drinks from the mini bar served by a scantily clad Chippendale. After Lee-Ann completed her pre-flight checks we were off on the road making our way to Franschhoek for a day of Wine Tasting and Chocolate Tasting.
The drive to Franschhoek flew bye with vivid stories shared by all covering all topics relating to celebrity news (Amy Winehouse in particular), pets, children, babies, child birth, breast feeding, elongated nipples, lingerie, movies, the boogie man, strange sounds in the night and gynae appointments. Contrary to what people may think, we didn’t spend one second talking about recipes, our preferred dish washing liquid, the price of naartjies, boyfriends, husbands or our jet setting careers. The conversation remained light hearted, humorous, extremely fast, disjointed, scattered, loud, without focus and generally trivial.
When we arrived in Franschhoek our first point of call would be the toilets (for all those with weak bladders). The pilot (Lee-Ann) and her co-pilot discussed a plan of action before we headed to our first wine farm for tasting. We arrived at the first wine farm to note that it was closed for wine tasting – this was disappointing but understandable considering we were the only group of giggles to be amped for wine tasting as early as 10h30!
Eventually we navigated ourselves to La Petite Dauphine where we enjoyed 3 tastings followed by much needed cappuccinos. Personally I felt sorry for the adjoining dining room where guests were clearly trying to have a quiet Sunday brunch. Not a chance with a group of 7 gals increasing decibel levels to that of 500! We enjoyed a white, rose and red wine. The cultivar and vineyard information as given by the representative was informative and interesting. It always amazes me how wine is described… the words are so delicious that one can almost feel your sense of scent and taste heighten at the mention of vanilla, eucalyptus, oaky, smoky, chocolate, raspberry and mint etc. The wine estate was stunning. With traditional buildings and the picturesque landscape it made for perfect post card images.
We then made our way to the Franschhoek Cellar where we enjoyed 6 wines paired with various cheeses. From Semillon, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Sauvignon and more our palates were spoilt for choice. Paired with the delightful selection of cheeses made for a unique and enhancing experience to learn how different flavours of food if paired with the correct wine can result in such an extraordinary taste bud experience.
With our last stop being the Rickety Bridge Wine Farm, any outsider would have advised us to eat lunch first but we decided to push on and enjoy our last wine tasting for the day. The service was slightly slower and less organised but we didn’t notice. We spent the long moments between the wine tastings nibbling on their exceptional range of chutneys and sauces until we realised that time was running against us in terms of our chocolate tasting experience scheduled for 3pm. At the mere mention of missing the chocolate tasting there was a scuffle of handbags and heals as we raced for the exit and into the van without 10 seconds of dawdling!
We made our way back into town where we enjoyed a much needed nutritious meal of burgers and fries before heading to Huguenot Fine Chocolates for our anticipated chocolate tasting experience. The chocolate tasting experience was great, nothing fancy or plush but more emphasis placed on functional and educational. We all commented on how passionate we found the speaker. He was enthusiastic and well informed about his speciality. He explained the history of chocolate, the process of making chocolate followed by the techniques used to master the craft of hand making Belgium Chocolates. The sweet smell of chocolate was overwhelming and we found ourselves almost salivating as we watched the flow of chocolate move around the chocolate machine in order to prevent setting. The chocolate tasting experience was informative and humorous. Our group sat at the back like rebels and projected our comments similar to the peanut gallery to keep the atmosphere light hearted and enjoyable. After the chocolate tasting experience we spent some time in the chocolate shop where we made our selection of chocolate purchases before heading back to the van for our return trip to Cape Town.
Our drive on the way back was slightly subdued and more serious. It’s obvious that the girls had used up their daily allocation of 5 thousand words and were tired after the long day of camaraderie and good spirit. We all commented on how much fun we’d had without husbands, boyfriends, babies and children and that we should make a pact to do similar girly events more frequently. As we said good bye to each other it was clear to see that everyone had bonded well having had a great time together.
A day out in the Winelands provides for perfect reprieve after a long working week. Wine Tasting and Chocolate Tasting are both great experiences to enjoy with friends, colleagues or clients, but not recommended as an activity for children. If you ever feel stuck for choice in terms of what to do in Cape Town, consider a day trip to the Winelands it is an experience not to be missed especially if you enjoy it with special friends.
Experience chocolate tasting in Muldersdrift, Gauteng – http://www.celestialgifts.co.za to find out more.
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Written and prepared for by Odette Butcher, Chief Experience Officer, Celestial Gift Experiences