Exploring the Devon Valley Detour
A gorgeous spring morning dawned in anticipation of the Travelling Media team meeting at the Devon Valley Hotel. Our mission was to embark on a morning of savouring the brew of the Devon Valley Detour. After a quick bite to eat to provide a little lining for all the beer and wine we were about to taste, the team piled into the hotel van to be transported to our various stops.
The Devon Valley Detour offers a packaged tasting experience of five estates in the valley. For R230 per person, visitors to the valley can enjoy the fare of wine estates Middlevlei Wines, Clos Malverne, Sylvanvale Vineyards and JC Le Roux, as well as the beer at Stellenbrau brewery. It is essential to book in advance and their are options to upgrade to include a meal.
I’ve never enjoyed beer, so I wasn’t ‘hopping’ up and down at the thought of a pint at 10 o’clock in the morning, but I was pleasantly surprised by our Stellenbrau experience. Jaco guided us on a tour of the brewery, taking us through the entire process of beer making with a passion for his craft and endeavour to impart the understanding that there is a whole world to beer.
We tasted four beers:
1. Jonkersweis, which had very distinctive banana aromas
3. Governors Red Lager, which left no doubt on the palate of its rooibos and honeybush flavours – beer tea, there’s a first for this tea-drinker!
4. Alumni Lager, which is an American brown ale, was most definitely my favourite with its smooth toffee flavour
A most enlightening visit, ending off with Jaco’s sentiments of “Beer is going to change the world – I don’t know how, but it will!”
The Momberg family have created a unique experience at Middelvlei Wines. For the proudly South African in all of us, what more could you ask for than to have a braai going seven days a week? I’ll tell you what you could ask for, and I am also going to assure you that Middelvlei will deliver… a braai AND fantastic wines. Their wines are paired with braai tapas:
Chardonnay with potbrood and snoek pate
Pinotage Merlot with cheese and biltong braaibroodjies
Free Run Pinotage with cocktail boerewors
As a vegetarian, I simply enjoyed my three wines with the most scrumptious potbrood and olive tapenade. For families, Middelvlei is child friendly with some interesting animals and lots of space to run about. What sets them apart in this regard is their pairing for children. Kiddies are provided with their own pairing box which includes the braai tapas and Appletiser, Peartiser and Grapetiser, with parents being encouraged to let their little ones explore how food and drink complement and affect each other. A packet of wine gums and a box of crayons and a colouring sheet keep them amused a while longer as mom and dad enjoy their feast.
The Sylvanvale Vineyards surround the Devon Valley Hotel and produce a number of boutique wines which we were served together with canapés. Wines are sold daily from the hotel and tastings are conducted in the Cedarwood Lounge or on the terrace. The wines we were treated to included:
1. Ghost Tree Three Colours White
2. Ghost Tree Three Colours Red
3. Sylvanvale Pinotage Reserve
Our tasting experience in the elegant hotel, which is a landmark in Stellenbosch, was everything one would expect of a classic boutique hotel set in the tranquil surrounds of the Devon Valley, with our host knowledgeably leading us through the pairing of the wines and canapés.
House of JC Le Roux
Entering the House of JC Le Roux, you are swept up in an air of style and class as one would expect when the wines you are about to indulge in are sparkling. Our hostess was very knowledgeable about the history of JC Le Roux as well as the wines as she took us through tasting the Methode Cap Classique sparkling wines. While a few in our group leaned towards the flagship wine, for most, as for me, the favourite seemed to be the pink La Vallée Rosé.
This visit was my first to the Devon Valley, and I think we were all unanimous in needing a repeat visit to this beautiful part of the winelands. We didn’t get to visit Clos Malverne during this trip, so we all have reason to take another detour and wind up in the Devon Valley for more delights.