Annareth Bolton on Stellenbosch – a small town with a huge offering
Approximately 50km from Cape Town lies a town where streets are lined with oak trees, buildings reflect the style of the Cape Dutch era, locals greet you with a smile and where Sundays can be spent strolling from coffee shop to restaurant to patisserie. It is also home to some of the world’s most famous, award-winning wine farms.
The second-oldest town in South Africa, Stellenbosch is known for its natural beauty, history, culture and education, which make it one of South Africa’s premier tourist and business attractions. However, it is the wine and the wine farms that have, and continue to, lure connoisseurs, novices and those who simply enjoy a glass of liquid gold.
“Being in the heart of the Cape Winelands, we are seen as the pioneers of wine tourism. The Cape Dutch architecture is a big drawcard, while the modern tasting rooms and restaurants have inspired many visitors to come back time and again,” says Annareth Bolton, CEO of Stellenbosch Wine Routes.
Bolton has been in the position since 2007 and has a special affinity for Stellenbosch, which comes in handy in her position. “I love this town, its beauty, and its people. Stellenbosch is all about quality, and this includes our lifestyle, wine, restaurants, cultural activities, business, education and hospitality. We are still a small town, with a huge offering!
"Being the CEO means that I am a jack of all trades. A typical day entails carrying boxes of wine, press photographs, meeting deadlines, running a board meeting, wining and dining at the latest restaurant launch and attending tons of meetings," she says. "I've learnt so much, and met so many amazing people! I honestly believe that I have the best job in the world. It really is a lifestyle, and not just a salary cheque."
The Stellenbosch Wine Routes encompass 150 wine estates in the region, which are divided into five sub-routes, Greater Simonsberg, Bottelary Hills, Stellenbosch Valley, Stellenbosch Berg and Helderberg, each with unique wines, climates and charm. However, you are spoilt for choice along the routes, whether you’re looking to enjoy a restful day under the lush trees sampling wine and cheese, practise your golf swing, get married, admire the beauty of the scenery, soak up the nature, try your hand at port-and-chocolate pairing, organise a conference, spend hours watching birds, go horseriding, taste award-winning cuisine or even take to the mountain bike trails.
“Spending only one day in Stellenbosch, you can taste wine with a rugby legend, go on a game drive, enjoy lunch at a top restaurant, try your hand at fly-fishing, visit a wine museum and mingle with the locals,” says Bolton.
Some of her favourite activities along the Stellenbosch Wine Routes include having breakfast at Tokara Delicatessen, lunch at Spier’s Eight Restaurant, bubbly at House of JC le Roux, Chabivin and MCC House, SImonsig or Villiera, and sundowners at Hidden Valley Wine Estate.
Be sure to visit Stellenbosch from 24 January to 2 February, when the Stellenbosch Wine Festival will celebrate harvest time in the Boland. The festival has taken place for more than 40 years, and is a highlight on the annual Stellenbosch events calendar. There are, however, other events to look forward to as well, including the Stellenbosch Street Soirees, Bottelary Hills Winemakers Lunches, The Grape Day Out, and more.
Bolton’s top five things to do along Stellenbosch Wine Routes
1. Historical walk
Join Sandra Krige for a historical walk through Stellenbosch. It is truly wonderful, and will open your eyes to our very interesting history and future.
Tel: +27 (0)21 887 9150/+27 (0)83 218 1310
Visit Schoon de Companje in Church Street for breakfast, fresh pastries or a glass of wine.
Tel: +27 (0)21 883 2187
3. Vergelegen Wine Estate
Head to Vergelegen Wine Estate for the old and historical. The camphor trees, gardens and architecture are spectacular.
Tel: +27 (0)21 847 1334
Pop in at Delaire Graff Estate for something new and glitzy. The art, gardens and architecture will leave you breathless.
Tel: +27 (0)21 885 8160
5. Boerebraai at Middelvlei
Visit Middelvlei for a boerebraai. You will meet the Momberg family, and experience the way South Africans eat and socialise.
Tel: +27 (0)21 883 2565