Fairview and Spice Route: Discovering the Wines of South Africa

Posted on: May 19th, 2014 by

Six years ago I got the chance to travel around the wine country of South Africa, which is not too far from Cape Town, with Vineyard Brands. They’re a company that imports numerous wines from South Africa and other countries. So it’s wonderful to circle back to that visit by chatting with Jean-Baptiste Cristini, who’s in charge of sales and marketing for two wineries, Fairview and Spice Route, on the latest episode of my podcast.

Spice Route

I rang Jean-Baptiste at his Cape Town home, and we start our talk with Spice Route in the Swartland. (Vineyards pictured above and see map below.) It’s a much more unforgiving, yet rewarding, location for grapes that the more lush wine areas of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Here you’ll find a lot of red wine grapes. At the cooler Darling region, geographically within Swartland but a separate vino zone, there’s a bit of white wine in the form of Chenin Blanc and Viognier.

Me and the Goat Tower

RIP, Chrome bag. (Strap pictured.) Vintage 1980s Grateful Dead still around, though faded and so thin you could read a newspaper through it.

Heading to Paarl, you need to stop by Fairview and hang out with goats. And check out goat towers. No trip to this winery is complete without a picture in front of it!

And then sample the fantastic cheeses. Dairy is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s on the menu at the winery’s restaurant. But probably not iceberg lettuce. Which I actually like, but I digress. (Quick note: I value crispness in lettuces.)

Anyway, they make as much as they can there on the farm. Even their own sodas!

When it comes to wine grapes, we talk about Pinotage, South Africa’s signature red grape, and give it some props instead of grief.

White wine fans will be pleased to hear about the variety of Chenin Blanc being produced, and how it’s unique in South Africa.

Listen to the whole episode:

You can also get the show on iTunes.

Some non-wine things to do around Cape Town? Get to the top of Table Mountain. Weather-permitting. The clouds haul ass at a speed I can only describe as astonishing and breathtaking.

Table Mountain

Great views from the top. Hey, look. Me in a white t-shirt and jeans.

Table Mountain

Hout Bay. RIP, Vuarnet Rx sunglasses. Note: I have never been to prison in Tombstone, Arizona. Though I once lived on West Tombstone Avenue in Flagstaff. (Note #2: Nor I have been in prison, anywhere.)

Me at Hout Bay

Probably the only place in the world you’ll see a warning sign like this:




Want more South Africa? Read my interview with Jean-Baptiste on Grape Collective. And check out this map from Wine Folly


south africa map wine folly

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2 Responses

  1. Roger chase says:

    Would like to have a list of good wines and where to find them

    • Jameson Fink says:


      Vineyard Brands and Cape Classics import a wide variety of wines; I’d check their websites. I also really like the sparkling wine from Graham Beck, especially their rosé. Just trying to get people interested in exploring the wines rather than providing a list of recommendations, though your idea is a good one.

      Thank you for your comment.



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