Wine down with these grape adventures

Posted by Imogen on 8 March 2019

Nothing is quite as satisfying as a delicious glass of wine classically paired with fine cheese and a view of a picturesque vineyard. A wine-tasting makes for a perfect day out and wine-lovers have more options for enjoying wine than ever as farms continue to come up with creative ways to celebrate their wine. Here are five experiences all fans of vino need to know about.

Croatia’s underwater winery

Edivo Vina winery, located an hour away from Dubrovnik, requires you to have a diving license if you want to take the cellar tour – the winery stores its ‘Navis Mysterium’ (‘Sea Mystery’) underwater at a depth of 20m. The Adriatic Sea has the perfect conditions for aging wine because of the water’s cool, consistent temperatures. The owners of the winery went through a trial-and-error process that took two years, before perfecting how to preserve the wine under the sea. The wines are enclosed in cages to prevent theft and are regularly checked on to ensure the bottles have remained intact.


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Each bottle is aged for three months on land and before going underwater, where it is aged for one-two years. The bottles return to land looking like ancient artifacts, covered in shells, seaweed and barnacles. The wine bottle comes in an amphora, a casing that the bottle is sealed in. It is made from clay and resembles those used in ancient Greece, with a narrow neck and two handles. A amphora enclosed over a 2012 bottle of Navis Mysterium will set you back €334 (R5,399) and a normal bottle from the same year costs €81 (R1,310).

Franschhoek’s wine tram

The Franschhoek Wine Tram is the perfect way to experience this magnificent wine valley. There are three tours to choose from: the hop-on-hop-off experience, the curated wine experience and a group experience. The hop-on-hop-off has eight lines for visitors to choose from and tickets cost R240 per adult. Each tour has either seven or eight stops that go to some of the country’s oldest wine farms. Those choosing this option can plan their day according to the different tram lines’ itineraries. The curated experience costs R1,050 per adult and includes a three-course lunch, special tours and premium wine-tastings. The group experience costs R215 per adult and covers four wine farms in the Franschhoek Valley. Sit back, relax and take in the beauty of South Africa’s exquisite wine country, all the while learning about the delectable wines this region has to offer.


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Malibu’s wine safaris

Located 30 minutes outside of Los Angeles lies this window of wine-lover heaven. After the California fires at the end of last year, the fate of the Saddlerock Ranch was uncertain. The fire destroyed 90% of the farm, leaving only the animal enclosures. The farm has bounced back and you can explore its surrounds in an open-air jeep that traverses through the 1,000-acre vineyard. You can enjoy a leisurely trip, drink delicious wines and visit the resident wildlife all at once. Zebras, bison, alpacas, camels, and a giraffe are sure to be spotted in between all the serene surroundings. While on safari, you can try six different local wines from the Los Angeles area. There are also guided wine hikes on offer for those looking to add some flare to their exercise regime.


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Portugal’s giant wine barrels

Quinta da Pacheca Estate in Douro, Portugal is giving wine-lovers an immersive experience: spending the night in a wine barrel-shaped room. The 270-square foot room boasts all the luxuries of a private suite: a private bathroom, walk-in shower, WiFi, a terrace overlooking the vineyards, and more. The Douro wine region is one of the world’s most popular, with a host of wine-related activities to partake in. For more information about this luxurious wine experience, read Sleep in a wine barrel in Portugal.


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New Mexico’s wine-and-chili-pairing

In the Mesilla Valley of Las Cruces, New Mexico, you can enjoy a unique chili-and-wine-pairing class. Hosted by local cookbook author Kelley Coffeen, attendees will get to try six different chilis: green, red, chipotle, habanero, crushed red pepper, and jalapeno, all served as a sauce or salsa on a baguette. These will be paired with three red and three white wines. The classes are hosted at a restaurant in a historic village, engulfing visitors in Mexico’s rich culture. The class running time is between one hour 30 minutes and two hours long and attendees are sure to leave with a new appreciation for all things chili.


Stellenbosch’s duck parade

Imagine planting yourself under a shady tree, delicious wine in hand, while watching more than 1,200 Indian runner ducks waddle by. At Vergenoegd Löw wine estate in Stellenbosch, you can do just this. The farm’s famous duck parade is a spectacular sight that is both intriguing and, conveniently, also a form of pest control. The parade begins when the herders call the birds out of the nearby dam and lead them up and around the farm’s restaurant and into the vineyard. The waddling workers then return back to the dam for a well-deserved swim. During breeding season, the ducks are split into breeding and working ducks, during which time the duck parade is a little smaller. The parade takes place at 10:30am, 12:30pm and 3:30pm everyday. If picnicking is not for you, be sure to reserve a table at the restaurant, where you’ll have front-row seats to the show.

Image source: Unsplash

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