We drove the 2 hrs from the game lodge to the Joburg airport. Check in was smooth with plenty of time to spare. We all hated to say goodbye to Joe and Elvis but we had to move on because we had a date with Cape Town. After our 2 hr flight, I was happy to see our guide, Desmond.
As we made our way to the waterfront where our 5 star Table Bay Hotel is located. Desmond gave a bit of history along the way, also mentioning that our president Obama was a guest at our hotel a few months ago and as you can well imagine, everything was on lockdown , security was tighter than a drum with his helicopters swirling overhead. In 2 words this hotel is “sheer fabulosity”.
My suite was filled with candy, fruit, wine and the most beautiful floral arrangement. I had a corner suite that offered the best panoramic harbor and Table Mountain view.
We didn’t have any time to rest because we had a welcome dinner set up for the group in their Atlantic Restaurant. The group dinner menus are hand picked by me as are the wines with my compliments. The wines; pinotage, Chenin Blanc, and a Rose’ seemed to be never ending and the group was having a great time. We had two private adjacent rooms with several servers at our beck and call all under the watchful eyes of one of the managers. My starter was cauliflower soup with a dollop of shredded oxtail. The main I chose was a thick slice of grilled whitefish accompanied with sautéed green beans and Carmelized red onions. For dessert I had the chocolate fondant and pistachio ice cream. Everything was wonderful! I called it a night because we had an early start the next morning.
Thursday morning our first stop was Table Mountain. It was very clear day and the weather was gorgeous, even at 830 am. A few chose not to go up so they hung with me next to the gift shop until the others returned. The cable car transports all 1,086 meters above sea level. They all got fantastic photos and agreed that it was like being on top of the world.
After leaving Table Mountain, we were on our way to the Winelands. In past years we were hosted by the Rangaka family of M’Hudi Wine Estates., a black owned family run business. They always rolled out the red carpet for us. But now those days are gone. Nevertheless , I had a real treat in store for the group.
Before making our way to our wine tasting and lunch, Desmond stopped to see his old friend Edgar, the Correctional Officer at the last prison where Nelson Mandela spent his last 18 months under house arrest. Even though we couldn’t go inside like we did 2 years ago due to some political issues, Edgar came to us and explained each detail of the Mandela statue in front of Drakenstein Prison, formerly called Victor Verster. He also gave an account of what it was like the day Nelson and Winnie walked out of the prison hand in hand, taking that “Long Walk To Freedom”.
The prison is between Paarl and Franschoeck, about 15 minutes from Mont Rochelle where we were headed for an afternoon of wine tasting and a fabulous lunch. Mont Rochelle vineyards, hotel and restaurant is off the beaten path and lies in the cut. There’s no stumbling upon this place. One must know where they are going and Desmond and his driver did a fine job getting us there on time.
These vineyards were purchased in 2001 by billionaire Miko Rwayitare, making him the first black African to own a wine farm in South Africa. Miko made his money in telecommunications and also owned Hotel Rwanda (Hotel Des Mille Collines). Sadly, he passed away unexpectedly in 2007 at the age of 65.
It was an honor to be wine tasting and lunching on this beautiful property on such a lovely day with such a great group. We were greeted with a glass of sparkling wine and after introductions and an overview of how things would flow, everyone was ordering bottles to taste, yes as much as they wanted. The favorites were reds – Artemis 2008, Merlot 2006, and a Cabernet 2007. However, the flagship, Miko Chardonnay Sur Lie 2009, loved by all, even those of us who just cannot, will not drink Chardonnay. There is something special about this one. Lunch was heavenly and the entire day divine. No doubt, Mont Rochelle gets 2 thumbs up from me.