by adeline talbot

Planning for a trip is, in a very real way, a bit of a treasure hunt especially when planning for group travel. After all, 'on the fly' for twenty or more is just not that likely to lead to good things.   

 The challenge, though, is not lack of information.  

There are endless online sources and, of course, this very endlessness creates its own challenges.  Just so much information.  How to evaluate it all?

 There is also the always important research trip but arriving in-country without a working plan risks wasting this very investment of time and treasure.   This is the time to refine the plan--not to get one.

Don't get me wrong--I absolutely love doing online research.  I never tire of a day spent chasing down options that the hold out the promise of the best and most interesting experiences.

And I absolutely, positively love a research trip. After all, I am on record--any excuse will do when it comes to travel. 

I'm just saying that like all good treasure hunts, one must be prepared to not only to go deep but wide.  I have found that one of the most valuable strategies is to take every opportunity to ask questions--lots of questions--starting with the sturdiest pair of all--'have you been there and what did you love?'.  

All this brings me to recent conversations I have had about  a very special region.

The place--or, more accurately, places--are the two towns at the very center of South African wine country--Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Over past few months, I have developed the impression that these two small towns have the biggest fan base on the planet.  Everyone who has ever been there has copious advice about 'must do's'. 

Want to hear the partial and still growing list?  

Well here goes--for Stellenbosch and environs--

Merlust Estate

Ken Forrester Vineyards

Uva Mira Mountain Vineyards

Waterford Estate Stellenbosch

Vriesenhof Vineyards

L'Avenir Stellenbosch

Muratie Wine Estate

Clos Malvern Wines Estate

And for Franschhoek and environs--

Lynx Wines

La Motte

Stony Brook Vineyards

Haute Cabriere

Hard to fit into three days no matter how committed we are--but believe me, we're will leave no stone unturned.  In early June 2017, as a very special optional extension to our trip to Cape Town, we will be experiencing  Stellenbosch and Franschhoek at its best.  Hope you can join us!