Over the past two weeks I have gotten a small glimpse into the awesomeness that is South Africa. I keep repeating “this is so beautiful, this is stunning,” but it doesn’t seem to do justice to how spectacularly beautiful this country is. From the beaches to the mountains, and even up into the expansive desert, South Africa is simply gorgeous.
Yesterday I spent the better part of the day driving from Stellenbosch to Franschoek (1 hour) to Elgin (1+ hour) back to Stellenbosch (1 hour), most of which was through rocky mountains meaning zero radio. This left plenty of time to sit and marinate in my experiences, when not white knuckling over the steep monkey ridden mountain passes at least. Let’s just pause for a minute and give a little shout out for my left side, stick, monster truck driving skills. Shout.
Here are my overall impressions of this absolutely miraculous and stupidly beautiful country:
- Wine is a LONG established commodity here. It is grown well, it is made well, it is sold…well, it is sold. This isn’t new terroir, these are not new varieties (really), and there is a well established tradition of winemaking. We all know vines were planted here back in the 1600s, but neglect to appreciate that even despite apartheid and a checkered past, wine has always been in the fabric of this country.
- There’s a new generation coming up! These guys want to do something different, something that speaks to place and climate, and speaks to the world at large. The bulk days, while still paying many of the bills, won’t sustain just on their own. Quality will reign! Now it’s an issue to do something about the leaf roll problem and insane interest rates (9.25%) so these guys have a fighting chance
- South Africans like to ice their whites, but don’t seem so keen on ice buckets. Strange, no?
- Along those lines, WHITE cars! Any and everywhere!
- This is a welcoming, gracious and curious culture. Politics play a very tangible part in every single person’s life, and recent changes have inspired hope for the future. There’s a feeling of optimism – cautious optimism – with (hopefully) big and bright things on the horizon. If this recent water crisis has showed anything, it’s that this is one country who can work together. “Day Zero” was originally projected for February, yet has been pushed to July thanks to the efforts of everyone!
If you haven’t been, go. The flight is easy -> 15 hours direct to Johannesburg followed by a quick – and again – beautiful 2 hour hopper to Cape Town. And from there it’s a spectacularly beautiful drive anywhere. Do it.
Speaking of, 17 hours to go back to NY. See you on the other side.