Your Guide To The Open Road
They serve bubbly in Paradise
Wine hopping around Plett
Now here's a Budget Getaways assignment that saw no lack of volunteers - a day touring the up and coming Plett Wine & Bubbly Route.
With 15 estates compressed into a compact corner of Garden Route paradise, you'll barely dent it, so we suggest take it slow and easy and limit to two or three of the more popular estates - most of them cheek by jowel.
Straws drawn for designated driver, it's onto the N2, direction Crags. First stop is the flagship of Plett bubbly, Bramon Wine Estate. 2007 saw the planting of the first vines at Bramon. Less than 10 years on the estate produces a staggering 80 000 bottles of plonk per annum, not to mention the 100 000 others they help to produce for their neighbours: Newstead Lund Family Vineyards, Kay & Monty Vineyards, Lodestone Wine & Olives and Redford Lane Wines. Try mouthing that four hours down the line...
Next stop on the map is Kay & Monty Vineyards - a polo estate turned boutique wine farm. Here we were met by the charming farm manager Lloyd, whose enthusiasm for his craft is near infectious. Down the hatch, we move on to Lodestone, where we are again warmly welcomed and ushered into the temporary tasting room - the new one is under contruction. All the more reason for a return visit.
Bleary-eyed and slurring like sailors on shore leave, we teeter our way into Newstead Lund Family Vineyards. Congratulations all round for making a lunch booking as the munchies have kicked in big time! Doug and Sue are fabulous hosts and have us feeling right at home. Doug leads us on a stroll through the vines (to keep us away from the other diners?), his passion for his grapes obvious. Organic fertilizer, recycled grey water, they're all part of the sustainable equation. Seated back at our table, we tuck into a feast fit for royalty. Delightful all round.
For a full package of it, Plett offers a stack of accommodation both in and out of town - we opted for a gorgeous cottage perched in indigenous forest at Moon Shine on Whiskey Creek. It's en direct route to the wine farms and blissful!
Idyllic beaches, interesting mountain terrain, lush forests, more than 15 established wine farms (believe it or not) concentrated in possibly the most gorgeous part of South Africa, this is Pletting with a new twist.
- If you're bringing the kids along, you should definitely get tickets to visit some (or all) of the animal sanctuaries in the Crags area; The Elephant Sanctuary, Monkeyland, Birds of Eden, Jukani, Tenikwa and Lawnwood Snake Santuary are all awesome family experiences; combine two or three and you have a whole two days worth of activities sorted.
- Around the corner from Monkeyland & Birds of Eden is The Mill Mohair and Decor Center with a lovely luch spot, The Peppermill Cafe. Their petting farm, play area and peanut butter milkshakes are always a hit after a trip to see the Ellies.
- If the sole aim of your trip is to do the Bubbly Route, you should get in touch with Plett Wine Tours (www.plettwinetours.com). With a wealth of info about the various estates and a luxury set of wheels to get you legally to and fro, this is your best bang for buck bet.
- Keurbooms Village (about 14km east of Plett) is a calm resort with stupendous views and wonderful beaches. An uncluttered place of old holiday houses and limited facilities, it makes for a good day outing (and an even better holiday destination) – but take care in the water. There is also the restaurant Enricos sitting on the water; the superb outlook compensates for the so-so food. Stick to the pizzas - they're good.
- Nature's Valley makes for a super day trip. The lagoon is family holiday Nirvana - set up camp for the day, kick back and enjoy. The Nature's Valley Restaurant is the only restaurant for miles around, with a burger-and-chips kinda menu - sitdown and takeaway. The restaurant lies at the end of the infamous Otter Trail (good spot to carbo-load), with small grocery store attached.