I have driven past so many times, and every time the quaint name of this winery has brought a smile to my face. I decided to make like a tortoise and slow down at Skilpadvlei for a wine tasting or two.
I adore the fact that a wine tasting gives you a quick and fun overview of an estate’s offerings, without committing to purchasing full bottles to explore their range. It also gives you a chance to broaden and train your palate, if you allow yourself to only be guided by the tasting notes, rather than driven by them.
Before my recent visit to Skilpadvlei, I’ve never tasted any of their wines. So, when they delightfully invited me to sample their two pairings on the farm, I couldn’t get there quick enough. Any excuse for a weekend galavant in the winelands, and even more so when there’s new wine to be tasted!
The farm derives its charming name from the legendary colony of tortoises that was found in the vlei in the 1800’s. The beautiful piece of land was dubbed Skilpadvlei and has been in the hands of the Joubert family since 1917. Today, fourth generation Willie Joubert upholds the proud family tradition of harnessing the rich potential of the land with a dedicated commitment to quality. Skilpadvlei is a fully operational 78ha farm (https://www.skilpadvlei.co.za/).
I was elated to finally put my indicator on to turn into Skilpadvlei on a warm, bright November Sunday afternoon. As we drove up the lush driveway, we could see that the parking lot was already almost full. At the top of the stairs, we found the restaurant, the tasting room and a stunningly sculpted garden, all nestled in the welcoming arms of the manor house. I was pleasantly surprised at what we found, as not much is given away from the road.
We meandered over to the tasting room and were greeted and seated on the veranda outside under the shady umbrellas, with a gorgeous view over the gardens and the signature Stellenbosch mountains in the background.
I opted for the Sally Williams nougat pairing, and The Tall Hedonist went for the meaty biltong and wine pairing. They happily accommodated Mother Hedonist with a non-alcoholic grape juice and nougat tasting. I sat back as we waited for our pairings to be prepared, and in that moment, I was so content.
We have just entered a great little oasis, where we will while away a few hours and sip on the fruits of Skilpadvlei’s labours.
Summer wine pairings
This summer, Skilpadvlei is once again offering their super popular wine pairings to visitors to the estate. Available every day between 10.00 and 14.00, you can choose between three pairings:
Wine & Biltong: R80 each
Wine & Sally Williams Nougat : R95 each
Kiddies Sweetie Tasting: R60 each
Without giving too much away, here are a few appetizers and my tasting notes on the pairings.
Nougat and wine pairing
This was a very pretty flight indeed, which contained the following options:
- Sauvignon Blanc and almond nougat
- Chenin Blanc and peanut butter nougat
- Grenache Rosé and cranberry & almond nougat
- Pinotage and dark chocolate nougat
For a hot summer’s day, the Sauvignon Blanc 2018 is young with a bright acidity. It’s all sun-kissed tropical fruits on the nose and the nuttiness of the almond nougat gives it a deeper layer of flavour.
By far my most favourite pairing of the day, was the wooded Chenin Blanc 2017 and the peanut butter nougat – luscious caramel notes enhance the earthiness of the wine beautifully.
We all know I’m a sucker for a Grenache Rosé and this 2017 vintage is a stunner. The cranberry and almond nougat softens the wine, taking off the slightly dry edges, leaving you with a berry-filled nose, with hints of rose and red fruits. Simply sublime.
A classic combination – you can’t go wrong with Skilpadvlei’s Pinotage 2017 and a dark chocolate nougat. A gorgeously indulgent way to end the tasting.
Biltong and wine pairing
The Tall Hedonist generously and kindly saved me the last bite of all his tastings, so that I could also experience the biltong and wine pairing. Again, a beautifully presented flight, with an interesting variety of biltong interpretations:
- Sauvignon Blanc and sweet chilli wheel
- Grenache Rosé and dried sweet bacon
- Pinotage and Kalahari droë wors
- Shiraz and beef biltong
The favourite was the Grenache Rosé and dried sweet bacon. With just a hint of smokiness from the bacon, the fruitiness of the wine and the savoury notes of the meat created a gorgeous sweet-salty experience. A seriously flavourful combination.
The two red wine pairings are suberb. Skilpadvlei’s Pinotage and Shiraz begs for meaty accompaniments, and they are silky smooth on the palate. All in all a lovely, refreshing tasting, which showcases the best of their ranges.
If you’re looking for a family day out this summer, I would strongly recommend a visit to Skilpadvlei. There’s an in- and outside kiddies’ playground, a lovely farm-style restaurant, gift and wine shop and of course the beautiful tasting room where you can acquaint yourself with their luscious range of wines. You can also do the wine tasting without the food pairings, and remember they offer a kiddies’ pairing, too! This is a fun collection of sweeties with a juice, perfect for busy little fingers!
Bookings are recommended.
Thank you, Skilpadvlei, for allowing us to slow down on your beautiful farm and opt out of the rat race of silly season for a few hours.
Second photographer: The Tall Hedonist, aka Timothy P. Gibson
The Little Hedonist has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, I do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, menu changes, opening times, and contact details.
Disclaimer: I was invited to this event in my personal capacity. There was no expectation for platform coverage in the form of a blog, or social media posts. This is my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated/credited, are also my own.
The Little Hedonist endorses responsible drinking.