Tasting Grappa at Tanagra Wine farm 

Just outside McGregor you will find Tabagra, a very unassuming and quiet place you wouldn’t know is there unless you’re looking for it. That’s a big part of it’s charm. They make their own wines, as well as  Eau De Vie, and Grappa. They also have private cottages on the farm, perfect for birdwatchers or for anyone looking for a quiet spot for a few days.

Side note: I had no idea what the difference between Eau De Vie and Grappa were, but apparently Eau De Vie is made from the fermented pulp of the fruit, and Grappa is made with fermented grape pomace that has infused with fruit. Basically, Eau De Vie is clear and colourless, and Grappa has the colour of the fruit that was infused in it.

Robert Rosenbach, the owner, gave us a peek into the workings of their distiller, as well as a taster of their wines.  It was still early in the day, and we knew there would be more wine tastings later in the day, so we had to pace ourselves. I preferred the Grappa to their Eau De Vie, but preferred their wines even more.  We brought home these two beauties: A 2015 Cabernet Franc Blanc de Noir, which is very crisp and refreshing, and their 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Blend your own wine at Excelsior (then paddle in the dam)

Driving with the owner through the vineyards on the back of a bakkie, dust trailing behind us, we arrived at the top of a hill overlooking the farm and adjacent farms. The De Wet family has been here a long time, and with 220 hectares of vines around you, you can see they’ve really settled in.  Looking down from the hill to the right we see a few cows, owned by some of the workers, grazing happily by the river. Further to the left you see the old homestead (that’s been converted into a guesthouse), and next to it the tasting room and deck, overlooking a little dam.

Side note: There’s a rowing boat tied to the jetty that I “may” have spent some time in later that day watching the numerous fish after several wine tastings.

On the deck of the tasting room we sampled some of their Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Shiraz, and tried to come up with the perfect blend. Surprisingly their Merlot was spicy to me and the Shiraz seemed quite fruity, and I was quite tempted to create my perfect (preferably proprietary) blend of 100% Shiraz, but I was there to blend wine, so blend wine I would do!

I think I went with 25% Cab Sav., 60% Shiraz, and 15% Merlot, corked my bottle, shrunk the plastic bottle top thing, and stickered my bottle as level as I could. This was the 2nd tasting of day (I think), and precision was not one of my strong points by this time.

Side note: when you shrink wrap the bottle top thing on, make sure there’s no wine on it, or it will crease like a mofo. Just don’t do it.

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Go visit a Garagiste Wine maker, buy some wine, and drink it across the road.

According to Wikipedia, “Garagistes” are a group of wine makers that make “Vins de garage”, AKA garage wine. This usually means visiting a garagiste and drinking some of their wears is going to make you blind, or you are going to have a fantastic time. Luckily, the garagiste we visited was Ilse Van Dijk Schutte of Bemind Wines, who had been making exceptional wines for other cellars for years. We were in good hands.

Then with wine in hand, go across the road and go eat something at Flora. It’s well worth it.

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There are quite a few other gems to be found in the area but that will have to be a post for another time.

{Note: We were invited as guests of Hot Oven Marketing. All thoughts are my own, all photos taken by Candice Bresler}