We popped into Waterford Estate for a wine tasting with our friends and were blown away by this place. It is a really stunning venue, right from the entrance (cover photo) to this beautiful wine tasting area (see below). Guests can sit in a circle around their trademark water feature and take in the beautiful setting and surrounding Stellenbosch mountains. The cellar forms part of this circle, so you can also watch the comings and goings of the winery.
The estate itself is owned by the Ord family and it has been developed by Kevin Arnold, the Cellar Master and Managing Partner, since 1998. Waterford has also been in the news lately as their wine maker, Mark Le Roux, has recently been announced as the Junior Wine Maker of the Year by Tim Atkin. This is quite an honour and also a remarkable achievement as all thirteen of the Waterford wines that were judged by Time Atkin received 90 points and above.
We sat at a table outside (see below left), but there are quite a few spots to sit at Waterford. They do have a beautiful inside area - which includes a fireplace for those chilly, wintery days. However, I prefer outside in their courtyard. It was drizzling a bit when we were there, so if you'd like a bit of shelter, you can also sit on the terrace outside (see below right). This is ideal, because you can still experience the outside feel and take in the pretty setting.
Waterford has a lot of quirky décor, like this display (see below left) that I like to call "wine o'clock". The bottle on the right is their Rosé, named Rose-Mary. We had a glass of this when we arrived (see below right). Look at that beautiful colour!
There are a number of wine tasting options to choose from (including the infamous Wine and Chocolate Tasting for R70 per person).
We opted for the Portfolio Tasting which costs R65 per person for 7 wines. This is a very reasonable price to pay for 7 top-quality wines!
The Portfolio Tasting includes a sample of the following wines:
- Waterford Rose-Mary Rosé
- Waterford Elgin Sauvignon Blanc
- Waterford Estate Chardonnay
- Waterford Estate Grenache Noir
- Kevin Arnold Shiraz
- Waterford Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
- Waterford Heatherleigh
All of these wines were really great. It is not often that I enjoy ALL of the wines I taste. Usually there's one where I'm not so sure, but these are all great. I particularly liked the Cabernet Sauvignon (see below left). This is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot and 4% Merlot. I loved the dark fruit and berry taste and the cedar wood and earthy flavours. I also liked the Heatherleigh, named after the two ladies of Waterford. It's a sweet blend of 55% Muscat de Alexandre, 30% Chardonnay, 7% Chenin Blanc and 8% Viognier. It's delcious!
Our wine tasting experience was not only lovely because of the good wine (although that helped) - we were truly blessed to have Kenneth explaining the wines to us (see a pic of him below right, holding his favourite wine). He was really witty and funny, but most importantly, really knowledgeable about the wines of Waterford. He also took us on the cellar tour and we found him to be informative and professional. I'm sure that the other staff members are just as good, but if you get Kenneth, consider yourself lucky.
The cellar tour is a really worthwhile experience. It's really nice in there! I learnt quite a lot - one of the things I learnt is the importance of having differently-sized oak barrels. The bigger the barrel, the less "oakiness" in the wine, due to the larger quantity of the wine, and vice versa. Waterford combines their wines from the various barrels, so their blends are truly unique!
The main cellar is pretty impressive (see below), kitted out with long rows of barrels and decorated with chandeliers. So fancy!
Waterford also offers a few other experiences, besides the Portfolio Tasting and Cellar Tour and other wine tasting options:
Wine Drive Safari
This is a unique, three-hour trip on a safari-type vehicle, through the 120-hectare estate. Here, you get to taste their award-winning wines amongst the vineyards of their origin. This wine tasting will be accompanied by various light snacks. The experience ends off with Waterford's Wine and Chocolate Tasting back at the winery. Cost is R850 per person. Book at least a week in advance.
This involves three different walking routes, at differing levels of intensity, which explores both the vineyards and the natural Fynbos. Here, you will have the option to select three different wines for tasting to accompany your picnic-style lunch. Your experience will also be ended off with Waterford's Wine and Chocolate Tasting once you are back at the winery. Cost is R350 per person. Book at least a week in advance.
They also have a Jem Tasting which I am super keen to try. It costs R75 for one glass of wine! I know that sounds ridiculous, but the Jem bottle costs R1100, so R75 doesn't seem too bad 🙂 Named after the owner of Waterford Estate, Jeremy Ord, this wine is a unique blend with flavours of truffle and exotic spice. I'll let you know once I've tried it...
Waterford is open Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm, and on Saturdays from 10 am to 5 pm.
Contact: +27 (0) 21 880 5300
Address: Blaauwklippen Rd, Helderberg, Stellenbosch
Star Rating: *****