The hidden gem that is the Plett Wine Route

Being an experienced Garden Route traveller, it has never occurred to me to venture off the N2 highway in search of a wine farm. As South Africans, we’re so used to associating Winelands with the Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Cape Town areas.

Although the Plett Wine Route is the “new kid on the block”, with most farms not being older than 17 years, the quality of the wines and the experiences at each farm does not disappoint. I recently had the pleasure of visiting Plett’s Bubbly & Wine Route with three of my colleagues.

We test the best wine estates, hotel and safari lodges for our clients

Boutique, bubbles and beauty

Leaving The Plettenberg Hotel after a delicious breakfast, we were ready and excited for what the day had in store for us. It was a bit rainy and chilly, but we will never let the weather dampen our spirits! Twenty minutes later, we arrive at Newstead, our first wine farm for the day.

Surprisingly busy, it’s clearly a popular Friday lunch spot for the locals, which is always a good indication that we’re in for a treat. And boy, we certainly were!

Wine and cheese tasting at Newstead - Plett Wine Route

Bubbly, wine, cheese and bread, what else could one need?

Newstead’s wines, especially their MCC’s (Méthod Cap Classique), have won multiple awards and are rated in the top 10 wines in South Africa. Their restaurant is open to the public for sit-down meals and picnics from Wednesdays to Sundays from 11 am to 4 pm. 

Their motto is “We keep and simple and special”, and it shows through the fresh and locally sourced ingredients on the platter we get to share in front of a roaring fireplace, with the Tsitsikamma Mountains as the backdrop. What a beautiful place. I can’t wait to return here one day and tell everyone I know about this gem.

Off the beaten track with the most welcoming host

Lodestone is one of 17 wine farms that belong to the Plett Wine regions

Welcome to Lodestone

Our next stop is Lodestone, which is open for tastings by appointment only. Therefore, you do feel a bit like a VIP when entering the estate. However, when welcomed by the amiable owner Brett, there are no airs and graces. The location of the tasting venue is spectacular. It overlooks a lily-covered pond, with the Tsitsikamma Mountains in the distance. What more could  you want while enjoying a delicious glass of wine?

This farm offers an extensive range of wines, from MCC to white and red wines. However, what makes the property truly special is the owner, Brett. What a privilege it was to experience tasting his wines while listening to his life stories. He shared how he started his career in corporate in Johannesburg and abroad and how he then ended up acquiring this little piece of heaven called Lodestone.

Brett has many plans for the future of Lodestone, from adding more accommodation options to the current two cottages and opening a new restaurant.

Wines at Lodestone wine estate near Plettenberg Bay

Wine tasting in a stunning setting

Some fun facts about the Plett Wine Route to whet your taste buds:

  • Plett is now recognised as one of South Africa’s “Wine of Origin” regions. It’s also the smallest.
  • There are currently 18 wine farms, from Harkerville to The Crags.
  • The owners of Bramon Wine Estate, Caroline and Peter Thorpe, planted the first grapevines back in 2001.
  • The area’s climate makes it better suited for cooler-climate wines such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir varieties.
  • The alkaline level of the soil allows for the majority of the wines to have very low sulphites, which is that “additive” some people could get a reaction from, for example, a red complexion or allergic-type reactions.
  • Harvesting takes place between February and April. However, it depends on the amount of sugar currently in the grapes. The Crags’ area tends to harvest earlier as they are in an area with higher temperatures.
  • The area currently creates eight Méthode Cap Classique style wines. These are wines produced according to the traditional Champagne method. Therefore, the area has become known as a “Bubbly Route”.
  • Three wine estates process and bottle their own wines, namely Bramon, Packwood, and Plettenvale. All other wine farms produce and bottle their wines at the Bramon Wine Estate with the master winemaker Anton Smal.
  • Anton Smal was with Villiera Wines in the Franshoek region for more than 18 years before coming to Plett.
  • Plett hosts an annual Wine & Bubbly Festival during the school holidays in March. Here you can taste wines from the different wine farms, experience locally-grown produce such as honeybush tea, olives, olive oil, macadamia nuts and pomegranates, and enjoy music and locally-produced artisan foods.
  • You can also explore the Plett Winelands on horseback, in a horse-drawn carriage, on a guided bus tour, on a cycling trail, or on a guided hike.
  • When are you visiting the Plett Wine Route?

    The Plett Wine Route is the smallest wine region in South Africa and promises an exclusive and scenic winelands experience. It’s young, exciting and thriving, and it’s going to be interesting to see what the future holds for this beautiful part of the country.

    The Garden Route is lucky to add this amazing winelands experience to its already long list of activities and adventures to experience as a destination.

    Rhino crash visits the Plett Wine Route

    My Plett Wine Route travel buddies

    It’s a great pity that we only had time to experience two farms on this trip, but it’s super exciting to know that there are almost 20 wine farms in the Plett wine region to visit on return trips to the Garden Route. Next time you’re travelling along the Garden Route area, do yourself a favour and stop in at one of the wine farms on the Plett Wine Route. 

    Contact our Travel Experts who look forward to booking your personalised and intimate wine tasting experience that is off the beaten track.

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