Whether you’re a wine novice or master, a fun-loving traveller or a foodie, there’s a Waterford Estate tasting experience with your name on it.
Waterford Estate offers six unique tasting experiences, making it easy to explore the team’s award-winning wines, right where they’re produced, in a way that suits your preference.
The Waterford Estate brand was born through a sensory appreciation of the fauna and flora on the farm. These unique elements are still constantly incorporated into the wines, and flowing with nature’s cycles, seasons and chapters underpins all the experiences offered on the estate.
When Kevin Arnold found the property in 1998, and initiated the Waterford project with the financial support of the Ord family, his aim was to keep the brand and the wine-tasting experiences as authentic as possible – a goal that, to this day, guides the winery’s offerings.
“When I first came here in the 1970s, I made a mental note that this could one day become the ‘Constantia’ of the Stellenbosch Winelands,” says Kevin. “While the agriculture was in a poor state, I found a pristine nature reserve.” At this stage, a small amount of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc vines, planted in 1988, existed on the farm.
Kevin and his team set about building a brand that told a fascinating story about the terroir and its history – even before they really started getting serious about making wine.
“Everything we did was centred on where we are – the geography and the landscape,” says Kevin, adding that each wine’s story, both inside and outside the bottle, is still told as visitors make their way across the farm during the wine-tasting experiences. “When we first created these experiences, they offered a way of taking visitors away from the obvious – the cellar and the tasting room.”
To start with, guests can enjoy a wine tasting in Waterford’s handsome courtyard. With the wine cellar surrounding this peaceful, well-maintained space, it offers a fantastic way of observing the workings of the winery.
Two truly superb vineyard tasting experiences paint a picture of where the wines originate from. Kevin and his son, Lloyd, established the Porcupine Trail Walk by exploring the paths used by the porcupines on the estate. As guests follow in the porcupines’ footsteps, they get a real sense of the environment in which the grapes are grown. The Wine Drive Safari, on the other hand, allows visitors to kick back and relax in a 4×4 vehicle, while getting a view of the activities on the farm.
As Waterford Estate is situated in the picturesque Blaauwklippen Valley, the walks and drives are spectacular. Less than half of the 120-hectare estate is under vine, so there’s much to be seen: fynbos, rock formations, tortoises, birds, bucks, and views that stretch towards the Atlantic Ocean and the City Bowl.
The tasting experiences, which also include the Library Tasting and the Reserve Tasting, were all developed and refined over time. The Wine Drive Safari, for example, grew from a simple wine tasting in the vineyards with biltong and droëwors, to a more sophisticated wine-and-snack pairing that culminates with Waterford’s popular wine-and-chocolate tasting back at the winery.
Waterford Estate was the first winery in South Africa to pair chocolate with wine in a tasting experience. Kevin worked closely with Greyton-based chocolatier Richard von Geusau in developing this world-class offering – a process that took 6 months.
Every tasting experience at Waterford Estate is aimed at connecting with the visitor on both a sensory and emotional level. “I truly believe that if you discover something for yourself, and you have a feeling about it, the memory lasts longer,” Kevin says. “Everything we do is about creating that special feeling.”
If you’ve enjoyed Waterford Estate’s tastings in the past, you’ll be happy to hear that the team is busy working on other innovative experiences – from expanding the popular Sunset Sessions to creating a nursery, and offering hands-on workshops in the orchards and vineyards.
With the estate continuously offering better-quality experiences, while staying true to the pioneering yet authentic “Waterford Way”, it’s no wonder that, on TripAdvisor.com, visiting Waterford remains one of the “top things to do” in the Stellenbosch Winelands.