On a rainy Friday in Stellenbosch, I stepped off the street and into a world of wines. Brenda Karamba, an exceptionally knowledgeable sommelier whisked me away on a journey through the Stellenbosch Wine Route – all within four walls.
The Simon Wine Emporium is a tasting room and online store dedicated exclusively to labels that are Wine of Origin Stellenbosch – making it the first of its kind in South Africa.
A wall covered entirely with wine bottles on display greeted me upon entry and made for excellent Insta-selfies. But a little closer inspection revealed an impressive collection of some of the country’s most-awarded wines.
Here, I sampled the very best from the designated sub-routes of the Stellenbosch Winelands: Greater Simonsberg, Stellenbosch Berg, Stellenbosch Valley, Helderberg and Bottelary Hills. Even within the relatively small region, each of these wineries produces wines that are different from their neighbours, owing to seemingly insignificant factors like the specific location in the valley, soil type and exact amount of ocean breeze each property gets.
Up for tasting are some 145 wines from 73 Stellenbosch Wine Route member estates. Also in this treasure trove are selected ‘old vine’ wines administered by the Old Vine Project, which were all produced by vineyards at least 30 years old.
With such an almost overwhelming variety of tasting choices, I leaned heavily on Daniël Kriel – co-owner of the Emporium and De Warenmarkt restaurant where the tasting room is located – to help me choose. Then, Brenda guided me through a string of wines, easily answering my questions on everything from barrel types to storage timeframes thoroughly.
In addition to the standard portfolio, there are also rare, vintage wines on the list, most of which are unavailable elsewhere. These wines are from the personal cellars of the winemakers themselves, exclusively for the Emporium.
Swirling a glass of Shiraz in front of the cosy fireplace, the lively atmosphere and louder-growing chatter reminded me that it was finally weekend. No better time for a good bottle of wine.
Tastings are done at De Warenmarkt complex, 20 Ryneveld Street, Stellenbosch.
Stock is not kept on-site and can only be delivered. Order in person or online at www.simonwineemporium.co.za
Open from Monday to Saturday, from 11am to 6pm and Sundays, 11am to 3pm.
For more information email [email protected]