{eat} Surpassing every expectation: gourmet sushi at GlenWood Vineyards

There’s something so wholesome and intrinsically uplifting about having your expectations surpassed. From the moment I drove through the little stone gate of GlenWood Vineyards, every view, every glass, every bite was better than I could ever have imagined.

Introduction

I would like to think that, after dedicating every spare minute of my free time over the last five years to our winelands, I have been around. I’ve enjoyed some incredible meals, tasted exceptional wines, and have gratefully been part of so many unique and exhilarating experiences that our wine districts offer. Having said that, none of them have ever included sushi.

Even though I’ve always been curiously inquisitive about this southeast Asian staple, I’ve also found myself steering cautiously clear of sushi in the past. Maybe it’s the rawness thereof; or the mishmash of strange-sounding ingredients. Maybe it’s the commercialisation of a century-old art form that has me shrugging my shoulders noncommittally. I’m just not sure why I’ve not taken the time to explore the vast world of modern-fusion sushi, for someone who claims to have a decently developed palate.

My fishy nonchalance aside, I eagerly seized an invite to experience GlenWood Vineyards‘ wine and gourmet sushi offering a few weeks ago. Little did I know that a few hours after my arrival, my life would be surprisingly enriched, pleasantly changed and infinitely bettered because of sushi. Oh, and because of their Vigneron’s Selection Chardonnay 2019, but more on that later.

Background

Situated in the heart of the Franschhoek Wine Valley (and slightly off the beaten track) is where you’ll find GlenWood Vineyards. Developed from scratch since 1984, GlenWood has established itself as a sought-after wine producer in local and international markets. They have 25 ha under vine from which they produce close to 90,000 bottles annually, adhering strictly to sustainable farming guidelines, applying best labour practices and protecting their indigenous fynbos (press release).

On arrival

From the winding drive through the vineyards to the embrace of the oak-shaded terrace, GlenWood is simply picturesque. The drive to the tasting room and restaurant was breathtaking in itself; your eyes sweeping across acres of lush vineyards and natural beauty until the rustle of the wind in the oak and cork trees signal your arrival. I left my city-stresses by the tiny stone gate and felt my shoulders drop back into their sockets as we took a seat outside.

A few tables inside and a handful scattered outside, it’s an intimately cosy venue that allows for personal attention and care from their team of incredible staff.

The experience

I stuffed my preconceptions deep into my pocket and decided to embrace this experience with an open mind and an appetite for something new. We started off with samplers of GlenWood’s small but stellar wine range, settling on a bottle of the exquisite Vigneron’s Selection Chardonnay 2019 to accompany our meal. If you’re feeling particularly festive, I would also recommend, without hesitation, their Semillon Sauvignon Blanc Grand Duc 2017. Outstanding. Their Unoaked Chardonnay is also simply divine and affordable. All wines are offered in the restaurant at cellar-door prices, which is a delightful little bonus.

After a quick brief to our waiter (his name very unfortunately slipped my mind and notes, what a pity!) on dietary requirements, he confidently and quickly put together a selection for us. His choices were intended to give us an overview of different styles of sushi, whilst making sure we’re not feeling like a fish on dry land (pun fully intended!).

We started with sharing platters of the edamame and Ikageso Age (calamari tentacles). A gentle introduction, both went down a treat, coupled with sterling early autumn views and a Chardonnay the colour of an aureate sunset.

Mains

After a brief pause, we received the most beautiful platter of sushi you could ever imagine. It was colourful, fresh, bright and left me eager to lift my chopsticks. Our waiter chose a selection of Roses Grenade, Sweet Girl Roll, Crazy Girl Roll and Rainbow Reloaded. Don’t be fooled by the slightly quirky names – each of these dishes have been carefully and innovatively crafted by GlenWood’s master sushi chef, prepared to order.  In that moment, as I went for my umpteenth portion of sushi, I had a fleeting moment of regret that I only got to experience gourmet sushi at such a late stage in my life. I made a concerted effort that afternoon to make up for lost time.

Time seemed to stand still and pass unnoticed at the same time. I love tapas-style eating, which allows for pauses and breathers, interspersed with clinking glasses and conversation. Every now and again we sat back under the oaks, just taking it all in as we joyously tried to make sense of the flavour bursts on our palates. It was slightly addictive; the dressing of the sushi with pickled ginger and a pinch of wasabi, the balancing act from plate to mouth with chopsticks, that full-mouth satisfaction of the first bite, and then the lingering hum of contentment.

Life was good, and in that moment, life was near perfect as I tipped my glass of GlenWood Chardonnay to the sky.

In conclusion

It’s an understatement to say that all my expectations were completely surpassed that day. GlenWood opened my eyes to the joys and intricacies of high-end sushi in the most blissful surroundings.  The perfect blend of creativity, craftsmanship, food, wine, panoramic views and excellent service, GlenWood offers guests a beautiful recipe for sheer happiness for the afternoon. An absolute must, even if you think that sushi is not your thing – believe me, it definitely is. You have just not discovered GlenWood yet.

Thank you to the GlenWood team, for allowing us to escape into your shaded reprieve, and for gifting us with a food and wine experience that will be almost impossible to top!

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.
Don’t drink and drive. Not for persons under 18.

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