One of the unexpected things I have learned in my recent years of traveling is how much I love tourist towns.
A city like Siem Reap, which exists purely for tourism these days — love it.
The little beach town of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, which is basically 90% there for tourism — feels comfortable.
Whistler during winter — fabulous.
Cambodian island Koh Rong — my version of a beach heaven.
The towns that a lot of people look down on, as they don’t provide any sort of “real experience” of the country you are in, well, they are some of my favorite towns in the world. Partly, I think my love for some of these places are thanks to my Afrikaans upbringing and being a small-town girl myself. Look, don’t get me wrong, I also love a lot of cities that are pretty universally adored, like New York, Dubai and my very own hometown, Cape Town.
One particularly small tourist town I have fallen in love with is Tulbagh in the Western Cape of South Africa.
But more in particular, Saronsberg Wine Estate. Despite the modern nature of their facilities and their progressive approach to winemaking, Saronsberg is an inextricable part of the deep history of the Tulbagh valley.
One would think that the best part of visiting a wine farm would be the wine and wine tasting, and understandably so. I thought so too at first. I thought my enjoyment of my last trip to Saronsberg would be directly proportional to how much myself and my travel partner enjoy a great bottle of red wine. It turned out that while despite the modern nature of their facilities and their progressive approach to winemaking would be one of my most memorable experiences ever, I ended up loving the other little things a bit more.
Firstly, I fell in love with the people. It’s amazing to see the people of Tulbagh living completely differently than what I’m used to in the city of Cape Town, and still see humility, peace and contentment on their faces. The team at Saronsberg have been so friendly and hospitable across the board on both visits to the estate. It doesn’t matter where you go, just about everyone has a sincere smile and willing to make your trip the most memorable.
I also fell head over heels with the sunset moments at Saronsberg. The best part of our last trip was when we drove up the mountain sides and vineyards to watch the sunset. It’s one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen. Sitting on rocks, sipping on Saronsberg’s Brut Méthode Cap Classique, having a conversation with our wonderful hosts Christiaan and Frikkie van Zyl, and seeing the sun disappear behind us, I was high on life. I am still so utterly in love with that moment.
Frikkie and his team ensured that we were treated like family and made so welcome from the moment we arrived at Saronsberg.
After giving us a bottle of their famous Shiraz upon arrival, we were shown to our cozy and well-equipped self-catering cottage on the estate.
It was a beautiful 2-bedroom cottage with en-suite bathrooms, spacious open plan kitchen, lounge and our very own built in fireplace.
I also fell in love with the quiet moments. Like when you’re lying under the trees overlooking the beautiful lake and mountains, drinking a bottle of Saronsberg Viognier, with not a sound to be heard other than your own breath and birds chirping away, you realise nothing really matters. The world is huge and full of beautiful, wonderful moments. Time moves on and so does life. Moments like that help you learn to let go of things and put your problems into perspective. It teaches you to be present, rather than dwell on the past. Because once the trip has ended and you must return to reality, the only thing that will stay with you forever are the memories.
We LOVED our time at Saronsberg it totally changed my opinion of Tulbagh and gave me a newfound love and appreciation for this small town just a few hours outside of Cape Town. I really feel the wine estate has done a fantastic job of capturing the heart and spirit of Tulbagh, combining it with the modern nature of the wine cellar while still maintaining the personal touch, tradition and excellent service. As I always say, amazing customer service is what separates a good place from an exceptional one.
We loved our stay and it’s the kind of place I would recommend to my family and friends that’s looking for a quiet weekend away.
You can also watch my Tulbagh & Saronsberg video here: