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July 08, 2013

My love affair with winter in Cape Town

Cape Town Tourism's CEO Mariëtte Du Toit-Helmbold has a love affair with winter in the Mother City. Photo  Cape Town Tourism

I have a bit of a thing for fireplaces, not to mention my love affair with food and my growing wine collection, and winter is the perfect time to indulge in all of them.

Tempting as it might be to hibernate at home, winter is my favourite time to dine out in Cape Town – on the condition that a crackling hearth, glass of good red wine and delicious food are on offer. There is no shortage of any of these in the Mother City. If I have to single out a favourite winter dining spot that excels in all these aspects it would be Societi Bistro. Situated in Orange Street in Gardens, it has a charming, homely ambience. Stefan Marais is a talented and passionate young chef and his personality is reflected in the flavours of the bistro-style food served. The quaint bar, leafy terrace and big fireplace add to the appeal of this inner-city restaurant. 

The many wine routes in and around Cape Town have become one of our destination’s greatest assets, with up to 70% of visitors to Cape Town including a visit to one of our wine routes in their itinerary. All of our wine routes have three things in common – excellent wine, superb cuisine and some of South Africa’s most beautiful landscapes. I love exploring some of the lesser-known routes and estates and have discovered some wonderful new wines for my collection.

For winter I have stocked up on some Hermit on the Hill Syrah from the Durbanville wine route and red wines from Waterkloof wine farm situated on the slopes of the Schaapenberg in Somerset West. The restaurant and tasting room boast a 360-degree fireplace and jaw-dropping views over the Helderberg.

The 96 Winery Road restaurant remains another favourite dining experience with no less than three fireplaces to cuddle up next to, while enjoying the food and wine from the local area (the restaurant boasts over 320 vintages).

You can never have enough bottles of Klein Constantia Vin de Constance in your wine collection and I have made sure I am well stocked for winter. The dessert wine from the Constantia Wine Route is one of only five South African wines ever to earn a classic Wine Spectator 95-point rating and the first non-red to achieve this. If you are in the area, hungry and in need of cosying up in front of another fireplace, while dining on some of the best-rated food in the world, treat yourself to a visit to La Colombe.

For jaw-dropping views, a fireplace and good food, visit Waterkloof Wine Estate in Somerset West this winter. Photo  Waterkloof Wines

Nature is at her showiest in winter in Cape Town and it is a great time to get outdoors. I love wading through a forest just after it has rained. Put on your wellies, pack a picnic basket, stocked with wine, breads and cheeses from one of Cape Town’s organic markets (I love the Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay) and head out to Newlands, Cecilia or Tokai Forest. Visit hikecapetown.co.za for advice on Cape Town’s hiking trails.

The Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay is a must-do this winter. Photo courtesy Skye Grove

A friend of mine, who writes a blog worth subscribing to if you have young ones, cisforcapetown.blogspot.com, reminded me about Kirstenbosch Garden's winter wonders programme. They have a wonderful programme for the winter school holidays with puppet shows, garden walks, story-telling and even a frog awareness talk. The full programme is up on their website. I’ll definitely be taking the kids to play in one of the most beautiful gardens in Africa, while they get to learn more about our special environment. It is also a good opportunity to try out the new Moyo Kirstenbosch restaurant – I hope it has a crackling fireplace and a good wine list.

Some of my favourite live music venues in Cape Town are Mercury Live & Lounge, The Assembly, Zula Soundbar and &Union.

While the temperature might drop in Cape Town during winter there are plenty of things to keep me busy, entertained and warm. So, get out there and fall in love with winter in Cape Town!

Visit www.capetown.travel for more information on what’s on in Cape Town.

Mariëtte’s top winter choices:

• Societi Bistro
Opening times: Monday to Saturday: 12h00 to 24h00.
50 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town
Telephone: +27 (0)21 424 2100

• 96 Winery Road
Opening times: Monday to Sunday: 12h00 to 16h00 (lunch); Monday to Saturday: 18h30 to 22h00 (dinner).
Winery Road, Zandberg Farm, Somerset West
Telephone: +27 (0)21 842 2020

• Hermit on the Hill
Email: pieter@hermitonthehill.co.za
Telephone: +27 (0)83 357 3864

• Waterkloof
Tasting Lounge is open from Monday to Sunday: 10h00 to 17h00
Telephone: +27 (0)21 858 1292, email mandy@waterkloofwines.co.za or visit www.waterkloofwines.co.za

• Klein Constantia
Open in winter: Monday to Friday: 9h00 to 17h00 and Saturdays: 10h00 to 16h30
Email: info@kleinconstantia.com
Telephone: +27 (0)21 794 5188

• La Colombe
Opening times: Monday to Saturday: 12h30 to 14h00; 19h00 to 20h45; Sunday: 12h30 to 14h00.
Constantia Uitsig Wine Estate on Spaanschemat River Road, Constantia
Telephone: +27 (0)21 794 2390

• The Fugard Theatre
Corner Caledon and Buitenkant streets, District Six, Cape Town
Telephone: +27 (0)21 461 4554
Email: info@thefugard.com

• The Bay Harbour Market
31 Harbour Road, Hout Bay
Telephone: +27 (0)82 570 5997
Email: info@bayharbour.co.za

• Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Rhodes Drive, Newlands, Cape Town
Open in winter: 8h00 to 18h00
Entrance Fees: R40 for adults and R10 for kids (six to 17 years), free for kids under six
Telephone: +27 (0)21 799 8783 or Ticket Office: +27 (0)21 799 8782     
Web: www.sanbi.org/gardens/kirstenbosch
Email: kirstenboschinfo@sanbi.org.za
Buy tickets online: www.webtickets.co.za

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