Guilty as charged. I did underestimate the richness of the winemaking history in South Africa. The truth is we all did to some extent. And fortunately, we were all terribly wrong. What started off like potentially the most boring day of the Southern Africa trip with Man Expeditions ended up being one of our most memorable ones.
The wine tour happened on day six, right after five intense days of exploring and adventuring the beauty and culture of one the most stunning cities in the world, Cape Town. At this point, Man Expeditions had already provided unforgettable memories like hiking upwards Lion's Head and Table Mountain, diving with wild white sharks, kayaking among wild penguins, cooking Cape Malay food, afternoon cocktail watching the sunset and massive group dinners composed by all eighteen members of our gang.
We hopped on the bus craving to witness the greatness of the famously known Constantia Valley winemaking. Our first destination was the majestic and luxurious Steenberg. Driving onwards their driveway we faced hundreds of thousands of grape trees, all perfectly spaced from each other, lined up like soldiers in formation, all carrying the flavor and tradition rooted in the South African soil.
Walking inwards the building, we were struck by an impressive designed architecture with a round bar in the center, crowned with a gigantic chandelier above it, facing the most outstanding and inviting garden I've ever seen. Our first wine tasting of the day was filled with stories about the local winemakers, the historical development of this impressive art in that region, while tasting an abundance of local reds and whites. Our late morning drinks were just what we needed to shake off the tiredness brought from our journey so far and set ourselves up for much more fun yet to come. After a couple of hours of wine tasting, photos and giggles we said goodbye to Steenberg and hopped on the van once again and headed to our second and most delicious wine destination: Silvermist Mountain Lodge State.
Silvermist is a family owned Organic Wine Estate situated on the uppermost slopes of the Constantia Wine Route. It was inspired by Gregory Brink Louw who has worked tirelessly for over 18 years to create the only Organically Certified Wine Estate in the Constantia Valley. Gregory himself guided us through his personal stories and inspirations that led him to create his premium organic wine. The dedication and passion invested in the winemaking process are really touching and imprinted on all of us a mesmerizing sense of meaningfulness. Needless to say, he was also very easy on the eyes.
We were received with a special long table, big enough to accommodate all eighteen of us. Along with countless bottles of the famous of Silvermist Organic Sauvignon Blanc we were served with a feast of local fruits, cheeses, and game meat, followed by main course and coffees, while listening to inspiring stories of the wine creation in the Constantia Valley. Our experience was meant to last no more than a couple of hours, but it ended up taking nearly four hours of our afternoon. We ate, we drink, we laughed and took hundreds of group photos, all surrounded by the incredible view of the Silvermist Mountain itself.
As we thought the experience couldn't get any better, we still had another vineyard to visit. The third and last of the day. At this point, what else could possibly top those two experiences we already have had? Our third vineyard yet to be explored was Beau Constantia, in the Constantia Wine Route, no more than 30 min away from Silvermist.
We arrived at late afternoon. The vineyard was located on a downhill position. At the very top of the hill was the main house, bar, and restaurant. From there you could see their own army of trees lined up downwards the hill in this bucolic scenery. We were so struck by its beauty that we didn't even adventure inside the building, we headed straight to its landscape to pose for pictures and taste their wine outdoors.
At Beau Constantia Wine State we had one of the most memorable moments of the whole Southern Africa trip. It all happened when we spotted this massive grass space, in a semi-circular shape, with five very wide steps going downwards like bleachers. Feeling a little inebriated by all that wine we decided to take a group selfie posing absurdly ridiculous of each frame.
Do you know that saying “We all have a little child inside of us”? We all gave birth to our inner child that moment. Our group photodynamic had a twist. The camera would take pictures of 5 seconds with a total of 3 photos. For each one of the photos, we needed to mix up our position and strike a different pose. And we had to do all of that while fairly drunk, still holding glasses in our hands.
As result we laughed at our own silliness, already blaming the alcohol for any next day embarrassment. That's when we had the brilliant idea of redoing our crazy photoshoot sesh, but this time by live streaming on Instagram. The final results speak for itself (sorry for the sideways watching heads).
As the laughter came out and more alcohol went in, I was feeling generous enough to refill my colleague's wine glasses, after all, we were all having the best time. So I grab one bottle of white and walked downhill offering to serve my Man Expeditions friends when I suddenly lost the ground contact and fell into a massive poll hole. The hole got one of my legs up to my crotch (I am 6 feet tall). The rest of my body was left outside of the hole, seating on the grass, still holding my wine glass and the bottle of wine (important to say both completely saved) with a slightly messy hair (also important to say). I remember looking around and seeing everyone with their jaws dropped to the floor, feeling scared and sorry for me, not the greatest way to end that glorious day. Luckily, nothing major happened and with the help of my friends I was quickly taken out of this rather embarrassing situation. I immediately recomposed myself, laughed it out and started pouring down again. I refiled a couple of glass and got a little distracted when I turned around and started walking back when... yes, it happened again. Thirty days later I still had a swollen leg with dark bruises all over. All marks of an unforgettable day.
I was never a wine drinker myself and I had one of the most memorable experiences during the wine tour. The vineyards and the people we've met that day were extraordinary and they all contribute to making every second unforgettable. But most of it, all of it was amazing because of the energy each one of our members brought, the silly moments we all (grown men) allowed ourselves to have and the generosity to not only enjoy those moments privately but also to share them with each other. The three vineyards of Constantia Valley wine tours we visited were incredible on its own, but when combined Man Expedition's positive attitude and brotherhood created a powerful and undeniable combination, worthy a lifetime of cherished moments.