Stellenbosch is ready to welcome you

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The winelands town of Stellenbosch was the first destination in South Africa to be awarded the Safe Travels Stamp by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), which allows travellers to identify destinations and businesses around the world which adopted its health and hygiene global standardised protocols.

And on September 5, 2020 the winelands town launched its Support Stellenbosch campaign, which is simply marvellous as it rewards you for visiting and eating out – with almost real money – thereby giving restaurants and other tourism businesses a much-needed shot in the arm as they trudge the long road to recovery from Covid-19. Learn more here.

The Dutch Reformed Mother Church (Moederkerk)

As a guest of Stellenbosch Wine Routes, I spent three days there at the beginning of September, around about the same time one of my daily email lists sent me a writing prompt of “Three Days In September”. So from Middelvlei and Yonder Hill, to Bonne Esperance, The Fat Butcher, Glenelly, Rozendal and Bartinney Wine & Champagne Bar, will mark the first time I’ve followed a prompt.

I was accommodated at Bonne Esperance Guest Lodge, which is on the outskirts of town, making it a super-convenient starting point for activities in the CBD. I walked everywhere: to Clicks to buy a hairbrush I’d forgotten to pack, Protea Boekwinkel to buy a copy of Emile Joubert’s short stories (in Afrikaans, as I strive to improve my grasp on the taal), The Fat Butcher for dinner, and Bartinney Wine & Champagne Bar.

Protea Boekwinkel

I arrived at dusk to find the venue full and busy. This whole Covid lockdown thing has messed with a lot of heads, mine included, and it’s interesting to reflect on the past six months and how I felt at the beginning, middle and now (which is not the end). I’ve relaxed enormously about some things, but remain uptight and anxious about others. At Bartinney, I realised 50 people (the regulation at the time) was a lot more in reality than I’d thought, especially when they stood too close to me. My hosts had thoughtfully arranged a table for me away from everyone else, for which I was grateful, but no one could control the group waiting for their table, who were within my personal perimeter. Pointing this out to the man whose butt was in my face only made him laugh, and there was a vague suggestion I might want to pinch it. Ugh.

Bartinney produces excellent red wines, so at least there was that to make up for it, and next time I plan to visit the farm. I love the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, which is available at R55 a glass and R225 a bottle (online it’s R224). Elevage Bordeaux blend is also R55 a glass, and R270 a bottle. The food menu keeps it simple, with snacks and platters to share (nope, sorry – still not going to do that right now, I don’t care how well I know you). Nayniso, the manager who was looking after me, said he thought the cheese and charcuterie board would be a bit much for one person, but it comes with a LOT of bread, which I don’t eat, so it was quite manageable as a light supper. Also, an entire log of chèvre is more than I can handle (the peanut butter of cheese).

To encourage people to wear their damn masks, Stellenbosch’s campaign with Tretchikoff’s Chinese Girl wearing a mask has done the rounds on social media. There are, however, three other artworks around town, so look out for those…

The Initiate by Irma Stern

For more information about Bartinney, click here.

PHOTO CREDIT: BIANCA COLEMAN ©

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