Africa, Food, Travel

Spier Wine Wonderland

Winter is a time to cosy up in new warm spaces, discover restaurants that offer the best soups, trying everything new that brings warmth and laughter in cups and bowls. For me, winter happens to be my favourite season and with it comes endless wine tastings from of my now favourite wine farms- Spier Wine Farm. This past weekend I was invited to visit their farm for a winter wine tasting and to also try out their new wine range which will be hitting stores in July. 

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Right in the heart of Stellenbosch, there sits a Wine Farm with hearts and smiles ready to welcome anyone and everyone who visits with the hope of leaving with great winter memories and stories to tell. As gloomy as Cape Town looked outside, I was ready to be treated to a full day of wine tasting, landscape splendor and spoils by the globally acclaimed wine brand.

Spier Wine Farm is based in Stellenbosch, Western Cape South Africa- for me only 29 minutes drive from my apartment. Spier prides itself with offering a selection of wines which its history dates back to 300 years ago. It is not just a wine farm but also offers luxury accommodation and conference facilities- talk about a brand that has it’s hospitality together. Besides the farm being environmentally friendly, they have recently added a wine range to their selections of wines and I am living for it and this is why I was exclusively selected to be one of the first few people to taste it.


About the tasting:

As part of their winter tasting and beyond that, Spier Wine Farm have released a wine range called Seaward – “a wine inspired by the cape’s coastal terroir”

Seaward wines are truly differentiated by their terroir, both within South Africa and globally. The Cape is one of the few wine growing regions in the world where two different ocean currents converge. Moreover, its coastal vineyards are distinct from those located inland, because the surrounding mountain ranges act as a natural barrier to those very cooling sea breezes that give ocean-facing grapes their unique character – a character that reflects resolutely in Spier’s new Seaward Chardonnay and Shiraz.- Spier Wine Farm

Upon arrival, we were welcomed by warm weather and green landscape and for me, it opened an endless array of smiles and magnificent hospitality! The winter tasting comprised of the following wines and pairings:

  • Spier Creative Block 2 paired with some cauliflower and smoked cheese soup to go with it.
  • Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon– I can still taste the crisp white blend!
  • Surprisingly one of my favourite from the new range, the lightly-wooded Spier Seaward Chardonnay paired with a carrot soup topped with goats cheese and cashew dukkah.
  • The love of my life- the richly suave Spier Seaward Shiraz paired with a spicy roast tomato and basil soup which reminded me of my grandmother’s tomato gravy.
  • finally, the wonderfully and sweet warming Spier Cape Vintage Selection.
Did you know: You can use simple home baked bread to cleanse your wine pallet?!

My favourites from the entire winter wine tasting have to be the Spier Seaward Shiraz, Chardonnay and the Creative Block 2. The chardonnay is best for people who are still new in their wine discovery journey as it is light and soft on the taste while Creative Block 2 is rich and offers this berry aroma that compliments the spicy taste when paired with the carrot soup. As for the Shiraz, I am a lover and a fan and it is refreshing that Spier got this right.

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This brand offers a mellow tasting Shiraz with the flavour heightened the moment you taste their spicy roast tomato basil soup which for me is the most perfect pairing of all time as the chili in the soup releases the spice in the wines and it just hits the throat in the most subtle and perfect way (YES, I said “perfect”).

Please be advised that the tasting is VEGAN FRIENDLY and kids can also enjoy a day of tasting house juices while the adult enjoy spicy drinks.


About the Seaward range:

The Spier Seaward Chardonnay 2018: Made with grapes sourced from the Tygerberg Hills, this lightly-wooded wine has aromas of ruby grapefruit, mango, citrus with undertones of raw almonds. The creamy palate offers fresh citrus and nectarine notes with well-integrated vanilla on the finish.

The Spier Seaward Shiraz 2017: High-quality Shiraz grapes were selected from Darling, Durbanville and the southern side of Stellenbosch for this wine. Having matured for 14 months in a mixture of first, second and third fill oak barrels, the Shiraz has beautifully layered aromas of mulberry, violets and plum supported by infused allspice. The palate has richness with good length and smooth tannins.

Spier Wine Farm wine tastings range R40 pp to R120 pp depending on your add-ons and pairings. Source: Spier Wine Farm



The Extras and Overall Experience:

As people like to force me to believe that I am “lucky”, the Spier Wine Stating was also accompanied by a winter Chef’s platter menu at Vadas Smokehouse & Bakery carefully selected by Chef PJ Vadas. This platter offers 8 dishes and thanks to my favourite season, the restaurant is slicing the platter price to only R200 pp. This price includes some of my personal favourites from the platter: a Kansas-city pulled pork; beets with feta, naartjie, dukkha and elderflower, smoked brisket and BBQ sauce among others. Please be advised that this winter menu is only available until August 2019.

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I will definitely be visiting Spier Wine Farm again because of their hospitality. With regards to their wine tasting, I am glad their Seaward Shiraz is different to all the wines I have tasted and better compared to wines from other farms that I have visited because of its smooth taste and aroma that does not fill your nose before you even taste it.

Now I know there is no such thing as a perfect review, and most of the time I will have a critique or two about where I visit or what I use as a measure of improvement for brands- however, after visiting Spier Wine Farm, I truly have no negative points whatsoever! Spier didn’t just meet my expectations, they exceeded them! From making sure our table was ready on arrival, our consultant was all smiles throughout, plus she allowed time for questions and palette cleansing and this for me is a total plus!


Please enjoy a video below of my first experience at the beautiful Spier Wine Tasting.

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Beauty and Travel

Hair and make-up tips while traveling

In less than a 24 hours, I will be traveling from Cape Town to the Europe for the holidays and I am pretty much excited about it because instead of just visiting the Netherlands, my babe and I will be doing a couple of trips cross country vibes. Plane tickets booked, accommodation booked, dinners booked and we are well ready for it all.

One thing that always graze me off though is looking beautiful without wasting time when getting ready and also being ready for anything that might happen during the course of a day touring places and meeting friends for dinner. My first concern is always my hair! I would rather not have to deal with my fro during the festive season, I honestly do not have time to be brushing and detangling.

Keeping the skin clear and clean while looking amazing is essential and here are a few tips on how to not burden yourself with all that and still feel great:

For hair:

  • Be versatile about your hair. It’s always great to get it box braided and you just switch up the look every time. Or have simple but funky cornrows which can be covered with a wig to make your look even more interesting.
  • Get a beret or a hat that can help with looking different everyday.
  • Always carry an essential oil for your scalp to help with any climate changes but keep it at a 100ml.
  • If it is cold, it is always best to wear a wig so not to stress out your hair.
  • Visit a local salon for a nice braid wash if possible to keep the scalp clean. I have realised it is difficult washing braids than anything else.

 

For skin:

  • Exfoliate!!
  • Drink water.
  • Stay away from make-up when flying. It is not good for you. Like, who the hell are you trying to look good for? the flight attendants?!!
  • Always have some wet wipes with you to wipe your face during transfers or every 5 hours to help your skin breathe especially during long flights.
  • Drink more water. This is very important.
  • Apply a night cream oil to help getting rid of bags or signs of tiredness.

For nails: 

  • Always have your hands dry (obviously)
  • Moisturise
  • Keep a hygienic habit when it comes to hands and face
  • It helps carrying a hand sanitiser
  • Trim your nails all the time. This helps with breaking and polish chirping
  • Base coat is important to protect your nails from nail polish stain. You can also add a layer of base after every coat for lasting shine and protection.
  • Give your nails a break. The way you give your face a break from make up. Let your nails breathe for a moment. So a week before you travel, just have clear, clean nails before bedazzling them.

I guess the point here is that, try keep your hair and skin routine as natural as possible. Only apply make-up when you know you won’t be sleeping on the road- overnight to help your skin breathe and get used to new climates. Your hair should not be a priority but taking care of it is important- which means, keep it minimal while giving it what it needs.

I hope this helps. What do you do to keep your skin and hair clean during the holidays?

Travel

Applying for a Schengen Visa- for South Africans

First rule of wanting to travel and not knowing how to start: NEVER feel embarrassed, shamed or sorry about things you don’t know. Traveling is about discovering things and you learn as you go. Countries are different, travel reasons are different and so documents needed for your Visa application are always different.

The only Visa I have done so far is a Schengen Visa under the friends and family visit category which I have no idea what number or visa type is formally know as in code. As long as you know what you are going to do wherever you are going, then you are on the right track! Before I discovered Visas and all this, I used to think a Visa looks like a card, like the kind of card we have now as a form of new card ID system. I would always wonder “Where do they stamp on the visa anyway?”. It never made sense but eventually you start the process and understand how it goes. So, take your time- it will feel overwhelming but it’s okay, just follow the rules and you will be fine. It will be over soon.

Schengen refers to the EU passport-free zone that covers most of the European countries. It’s the largest free travel area in the world.

A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any members of the Schengen Area, per stays up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.

The Schengen visa is the most common visa for Europe. It enables its holder to enter, freely travel within, and leave the Schengen zone from any of the Schengen member countries. There are no border controls within the Schengen Zone.

Visa terms

It is nice right! Just remember that, if you are planning to stay more than 90 days, you must apply for a national visa which has its own code and name. There is a third party institution that assists people with visa applications. Then there are people who assist other people in getting docs to apply for instance, people who don’t have time to search what needs to be submitted. So someone will do all that for you and tell you what you need to have. They schedule and appointment on your behalf and tell you when you need to go there and time. I however choose to do it by myself because there is no money for that and I do it through VFS Global South Africa

 

They take care of all the process and you pay them and they take care of everything. Remember you always need to schedule an appointment (you don’t just rock up) Schedule here and track your application online Track visa application. I am about to go for my Schengen Visa to visit my boyfriend in Europe and these are the documents I had to get:

  • Copy of ID
  • Passport (they will take this for your application so don’t freak out).
  • An invitation letter which the person you are visiting must fill up and get it stamped by his government and courier it if they are not with you. They can also do it in your country at their consulate (A fee applies) Invitation letter
  • If you are paying for your stay, a bank statement must accompany the docs.
  • A letter of employment in this case too.
  • Copy of flight reservation and medical insurance (these will show your travel dates and duration of stay).
  • A fee of R1065 at this moment will be charged (last time I paid R1400 and before that R700) It changes with country and other factors.

A lot of docs are needed but once you are done, it will take 5 days to process your visa and can choose to collect it at VFS Global or have it couriered to you at an extra charge. If you are struggling, just comment below and we can have a chat on your application. I am only familiar with Europe short stay visas by the way.

Whatever you do after your visa has been approved and you are living your best life in a different country, DO NOT OVERSTAY! You can get banned for a number of years, maybe 10.

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Food, Travel

Strawberry picking at Polkadraai Strawberry farm

I would like to take a moment of silence to appreciate the fun moment I had at Polkadraai considering the fact that I have been trying to explore…

Polkadraai Strawberry Farm is in stellenbosch which is only 26 minutes away from Observatory on weekends without traffic. It is pretty much easy getting there and you’ll know by cars parked outside that it’t where you are going.

In order to be allowed to the strawberry grounds, a bucket for each person must be purchased which can be purchased in the first and only supermarket you see upon arrival in the farm. The buckets range in prices from R40.00 per person for kids to R190.00 for ultimate pickers.

What you need to know:

  • The farm is only open during these times and season: September to January daily, 9am – 4.00pm* (times might change depending on weather and holidays).
  • Picker bucket vary: Junior R40.00; The harvester R55.00; the professional picker R150.00; and the ultimate picker R190.00.
  • There are other fun things to do on the farm for families and kids such as tractor and pony rides, face painting, mini golf.
  • There is a food court which is super affordable. I spent R40.00 on burger and chips which were soooo delicious.

What I enjoyed:

  • Parking is totally free.
  • They have a range of buckets which suit everyone.
  • It is affordable and no entrance fee- just bucket fee.
  • You can pick as much strawberries as you want, as long as you are not greedy about it.
  • It is relaxing and their strawberries are very sweet and juicy.

What I did not enjoy:

  • I was a bit unprepared and I did not take a sunhat with me so I was sunburned
  • It can get a bit muddy so try wearing sneakers or any closed shoes that are not really important to you- NO HEELS.
  • We started at a ground where there weren’t a lot of strawberries and only got small ones until we were moved to a different field but our buckets were almost full.

There is literally a lot you can do. Just know that a group of 20 and more must call in first to book Click Here for more information

Travel

How I Booked Cheap Flights to the Netherlands!

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As we catch flights and feelings, can I take this moment to tell you about how I got to book a flight for R5451 from Flying Bargain from Cape Town to Amsterdam! Yes, I know!

I have recently did my first out of the country, over the ocean trip to the Netherlands where my man stays full time and the process was so tedious but being someone who makes sure they travel under budget, this time around I made sure I stay really under budget. I am a cheapskate when it comes to paying for things, I mean if I will always find ways to do things for free or not pay a lot. I shakedown the system to have fun haha.

As my man and I started planning travel trips for the winter (his winter), I started planning my “shakedown” strategy on how the hell does one buy tickets under R6k. I watched all these sites like a hawk. All of them from StaTravel, Travel Start, Student Flights… then a friend of mine sent me a text telling me about his new venture, a third party online flight center. Homegirl did her thing and waited and waited until one day when I was totally minding my own business and there it was!!!

A flight from Cape Town International Airport to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport for less that R5,5K. At first I thought it was a joke and had asked people on twitter to keep a lookout for me. But that was it! I spoke to the man, and told him the story and I am always lucky that my man is always ready for such emergencies. At first we spoke about our finances as I could not afford the flight at the time and we had to negotiate. He was to buy my ticket with a credit card and I would pay him back (I kind of did). And there I was honnies, a flight and feelings richer all thanks to http://flyingbargain.com/

Here is the price breakdown:

  • Flight +taxes R5841
  • Travel Insurance (VIP) R552
  • The flight package allows two bags which with an extra bag would have been an extra R40 . 

Accommodation is not included in my travels because I have accommodation already sorted and all I need to save for is Christmas spending (gifts, cross country and other lifestyle activities including food.

Visit http://flyingbargain.com/ for flights, car and accommodation rentals. They still have some specials on. Plus the trip would have cost me so much less if I was flying from Johannesburg. Better luck next time I guess.

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