A wine-tasting experience unlike any other
Waterford Estate’s Porcupine Trail Wine Walk is easily one of the best wine-tasting experiences in the Cape Winelands. In our latest blog post, we give visitors a sense of what to expect.
Spending time on Waterford Estate is always food for the soul. However, few experiences beat walking the Porcupine Trail – a winding path through the spectacular vineyards, fynbos and forests that make up the idyllic estate.
The Porcupine Trail Wine Walk is a truly unique wine-tasting experience that not only give visitors a chance to spend time in nature, but also the opportunity to explore the terroir on which Waterford Estate’s award-winning wines are produced.
Every walk starts with a glass of bubbles under the plane trees in the courtyard with its iconic fountain – a chance to relax, unwind and get a sense of the friendly atmosphere for which the estate is known. Next up is a tour through the cellar, which makes for a fascinating glimpse into the winemaking process.
All the elements of the winery are contained in the buildings surrounding the famous courtyard. The walk takes visitors from the area in which the grapes are received, pressed and fermented right through to the Cathedral Cellar, where The Jem and some of the estate’s other prized wines are aged. Here, it’s easy to imagine that you’re standing in an underground cellar beneath an ancient castle in Italy or France.
A whip around the bottling and storing facilities (all of which sit on the estate) is followed by an unforgettable walking tour through the vineyards. The leisurely walk takes one, two or three hours, depending on the route you’ve selected. With a guide that stops frequently to share fascinating info about the farm, the walk is fairly easy even though there are some uphill climbs.
One of the first surprises for many visitors is the number of wild animals that frequent the area. A stop at an information board reveals that small leopards, wildcats, baboons, otters and foxes are spotted often. Within a few minutes of starting the walk, many visitors also see porcupine quills – proof that these prickly little rodents call Waterford Estate their home.
In high summer, the estate’s olive trees are covered with their squat, oval-shaped fruits, and you’re yet again reminded of Europe. But, when you look just beyond the vineyards and fruit trees, the abundance of fynbos brings you right back to where you are.
Fynbos is unique to South Africa and has the largest number of plant species of any biome in the country. At Waterford Estate, your guide will tell you, great care is taken to keep much of the fynbos intact. The native vegetation provides nutrients for the vines and acts as a barrier for floods during the rainy season.
Seeing where the various grape varietals are grown, and being able to touch and even taste the grapes, further add to the walking tour’s appeal. A total of 11 different grape varietals are grown on Waterford Estate, and comparing their appearance, taste and texture gives one an understanding of how each varietal influences the wines to which they’re added.
The highlight of the Porcupine Trail Wine Walk is, without a doubt, the wine tasting that’s done among the vineyards. Picnic tables set beneath big, indigenous trees offer protection from the sun and, when the tour guide opens the Waterford wines that form part of the tasting, the rest of the world simply fades away.
Walking back downhill, seeing Table Mountain on the horizon serves as a reminder that city life isn’t too far away. Yet, for a blissful hour or two, it feels like you’re far away from everything and lucky enough to see exactly where the journey starts for some of South Africa’s very best wines.
A chocolate-and-wine pairing back at the cellar is the perfect ending to a wonderfully relaxed day in the Cape Winelands.
Take note! The Waterford Estate Wine Drive just won the “True Cape Town Experience” category in the Cape Town Experiences magazine awards. Contact us to book your spot for the Porcupine Trail Wine Walk, the Wine Drive or any of our other superb tasting experiences.