10 reasons to love winter in Stellenbosch

Many of us have heard the saying that Blues music can be described as a bad man feeling good. Or a good man feeling bad, for that matter. I think the same thing goes for winter in Stellenbosch: so-called bad weather that makes people feel really good.

There’s a very special appeal to the age-old cliché of snuggling up to a fire with a glass of Stellenbosch’s finest red in one hand. It makes people happy. It also makes people want to share bowls of steaming deliciousness and pretty much anything that comes freshly baked from the oven. It’s the return of “the great indoors”.

It’s good to remember that your own house isn’t the only option for an indoors retreat. Stellenbosch is geared for winter, because the locals love to celebrate it. There are so many nooks, lounges and tasting rooms in and round town that will make you wish that winter could linger longer.

Wine and chocolate pairing

Here are my top 10 reasons to love winter in Stellies:

  1. Drinking red wine any time of the day, because it was made for this weather and we need to make the most of it, right? Right.
  2. Steaming up your kitchen windows with some sexy slow-cooking. Yes, soup and stews can be very sexy!
  3. Rediscovering how much you actually love sherry. Every year.
  4. Checking the mountains each morning for snow. Snowcapped Stellenbosch mountains make beautiful pictures, even on really bad cell phones.
  5. Swopping nighttime TV for a view of the fireplace (if you’re lucky to have one). Fire watching is a fascinating, calming, inspiring activity.
  6. Discovering fresh hail on the lawn and feeding it to your kids. Fact: all kids love eating hail.
  7. Figuring out that pretty much any winter produce in Stellenbosch can be made into a soup, and can also be a topping on homemade pizza. That includes grapes.
  8. Baking bread from scratch to go with your homemade soup. The satisfaction that comes with home baked bread is so underrated.
  9. Soft blankets to keep you warm at local restaurants are standard practice. Well, almost.
  10. Sharing a fireplace with complete strangers at a wine estate tasting room, warming hands together and meeting new people – it’s the spirit of winter in the Winelands!

MLounge at Majeka House

So you’re wondering where to go for some Stellenbosch Winter magic? Here’s my list of top 10 winter restaurants, tasting rooms & wine lounges – and they all come with a fireplace:

  1. Waterford Estate: These guys have won numerous awards for the way they present their wine tastings. Try their chocolate & wine pairing this winter, in the lounge next to the fireplace. They also do a magnificent wine drive on the estate, if the weather plays along. The views are quite splendid.
  2. 96 Winery Road: If you’re a meat lover, you’ll feel right at home. Their hearty winter menu offers many favourites, but be sure to try the signature duck & cherry pie next to the cozy fireplace.
  3. The wine tasting lounge at Tokara: with a huge fireplace and beautiful views, their award winning wines taste even better. Also taste some of their olive oil and balsamic vinegar, locally grown and produced. And if you’re hungry, stop next door at their deli – there’s a fireplace too!
  4. Terroir at Kleine Zalze: This restaurant remains one of my favourites in Stellenbosch for lunch or dinner. With their perfectly placed indoor heaters, you’ll always be warm and comfy. Anything on the menu is good, and they have great winter specials.
  5. Bodega Restaurant at Dornier: These guys do a great tapas menu, as well as a shellfish menu, winter menu, and kids menu. These are great options for big families and lazy long Sunday lunches. And did I mention the larger-than-life mountain view?
  6. Guardian Peak: Here you can recline in a luxurious couch with some beautiful coffee table books, while tasting their wines next to the fireplace. Their adjacent restaurant with fabulous views of the vineyards is perfect for lunch if you want to linger longer.
  7. M Lounge at Majeka House: For an opulent touch, have a seat at Majeka House’s M Lounge for pre-dinner cocktails, craft beer and bar bites, next to the fireplace. Their décor is beautifully different and the service is excellent. Macaron Restaurant is right next door, and a must for fine dining lovers anytime of the year.
  8. Asta Italian Foods: Originally called Asta la Pasta, this place has changed address a few times in Stellenbosch. Recently opening at 103A Dorp Street, the new generation owners still serve authentic Italian pasta & specialties, next to a brand new roaring fireplace. A delightful mid-week lunch option.
  9. Schoon de Compagne: Although this place doesn’t have a regular fireplace, I’m sure their massive wood fired oven qualifies. They remain one of the most popular winter spots in town. Hop in for coffee, pastries, freshly baked bread, or scrumptious breakfast. They’re open some nights for pizza and live music too.
  10. Bartinney Wine & Champagne Bar: A small place, but certainly one of the most beautiful shops in Stellenbosch. Have a seat next to their fireplace with a glass of Bartinney wine, and check out the magnificent “vine chandelier” up above.

Coffee to keep you warm in Stellenbosch

It’s important to remember that not everyone can afford the luxury of staying warm, cosy and well fed this winter. Please support these charities that help supply homes, blankets, hot food or supplies to those who need it most:

  • Youth Outreach: These people provide homeless street kids between the ages of 4 and 18 with a temporary home. You can donate supplies & funds, or just volunteer your time. Click on “how you can help” on this website.
  • Stellenbosch Feeding in Action: Providing one balanced meal to about 3300 needy people every weekday, this is probably Stellenbosch’s biggest feeding scheme. They have 30 feedings points which included 21 soup kitchens, where they provide hot food, food parcels and supplementary food supplies. Here’s more about getting involved.
  • Stellenbosch Night Shelter: An overnight shelter with beds for 30 men and 10 women. They also provide soup and bread at night, and sandwiches with coffee in the morning. Find out more about exactly what they need, and how to make donations.
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