We’re continually in awe of how many winederlust destinations we have yet to discover within the Cape Winelands – it’s both exhilarating and discouraging, as how can one see them all? As two pragmatists, we’re tackling this ‘problem’ the only way we can – one winery at a time. Asara is a spot that has always welcomed travellers from Cape Town as they arrive in Stellenbosch off Polkadraai Road, and we’ve driven past it dozens of times. Now, one balmy summer morning, we finally had a chance to drive up that tree-lined lane. And boy, was it worth it.
Upon arrival, we met with talented winemaker Danielle le Roux right by the estate’s iconic Bell Tower. Danielle took us through to a special section of the barrel-lined cellar – a space adorned in beaded chandeliers and a long aisle practically shouting out for a festive function. Danielle’s humble enthusiasm for her creations quickly seeped into the atmosphere of the tasting group, as we lapped up her knowledge in between sips of a stunning, lightly wooded Chenin Blanc. We learnt that what makes Asara stand out from the crowd in terms of winemaking is that the estate is located within a valley, with two completely different soil types on either side of their hilly property. This allows Danielle and her team to craft different styles of wine – from a fresh and zesty Sauvignon Blanc to an award-winning Bordeaux blend called the Bell Tower.
As we emerged from the cool cellar and into the bright heat of the 30 degree day, our stomach whale call signalled it was high time for lunch, and so we found welcome refuge in the land of Sansibar. With a beautifully executed art deco feel, this gin bar is like no other, sporting a bedazzling collection of over 240 gins – one of the largest selections of gin in the world.
Our thoughts are that if you like wine, then you’ll naturally start to appreciate the nuances in any crafted product, be it food, beer or in our preferred case, gin. Over the past 5 years, the craft gin scene has exploded within South Africa, with small batch distilleries such as Inverroche, Woodstock Gin and Hope on Hopkins seeing stratospheric success. And we’re all for it, indulging in the distinct characteristics between each gin, and learning a little more about the process as we go. Be it grape or juniper – we’re fan of all the berries.
As lunch arrived, Asara continued to wow us with their full offering, and made us feel proud of how our local tourism industry has so much to give to visitors from far and wide. The best part? Like those two hills that the estate is wedged between, at Asara, you don’t have to be only a wine person, or exclusively a gin person – you can be both, enjoying the best that both worlds have to offer.
Visit https://www.asara.co.za/ for more information.