Say South Africa and you could be talking safaris. Say South African wine and you could be talking Chenin Blanc. Now bring these two national pleasures together by entering a mountain bike Chenin Safari challenge in the Cape Winelands, and you could be having your best autumn ever.
Starting Saturday, May 6, and running through till Saturday, June 10 (also International Drink Chenin Day), legal-age mountain bikers and any other members of the public can create their own itineraries and ride in their own time, stopping off during the six-week window at any of 30 participating Chenin Safari wine farms across the Cape Winelands. Choosing a farm, they pop into the tasting facility and then upload a photograph of their visit as proof.
“It’s a win/win whichever way you look at it,” explains Christina Harvett, manager of the Chenin Blanc Association, that’s organising the Chenin Safari. “You could be in line for some great prizes or just have some terrific, fitness-boosting cycling fun over the course of six weeks. Either way, if you come with an appetite for adventure and great-tasting wine you simply can’t lose.
“Visit a total of six Chenin Safari stops during the period, upload your images taken at each stop and you’ll earn a designer #Drink Chenin cycling shirt. That’s why it’s essential to register for the Chenin Safari and provide your cycling top size from the get-go,” she urges.
“Visit more than six of the Chenin sites and you could stand to win luxury boutique getaways for two, wine and gourmet hampers and women-only guided rides. Apart from these prizes, there’s the thrill of exploring up close some of the most scenic vineyard country anywhere in the world while getting to sample vintage and new-release wines from the pick of the Cape’s Chenin treasures.
“There will be complex, old-vine Chenins, light, fresh Chenins, wooded, unwooded, still and bubbly wines, steely dry, rich and deep, off-dry and sweet expressions to try. The stylistic range covered by the many wineries involved will be a safari in itself!”
Wine farms taking part are located across a major swathe of the Cape Winelands, from the West Coast to Darling, Swartland, Bottelary, Stellenbosch, Helderberg, Simondium, Paarl, Franschhoek, Worcester, Wellington, Rawsonville, Tulbagh and Villiersdorp, as well as the Breedekloof and the Du Toitskloof mountains.
You can visit wineries independently, choosing your routes and your own timetables to coincide with winery operating hours, and/or join the Chenin Crew by taking part in pre-scheduled group events. These are the Breedekloof Gravel & Grape (May 6), Darling Hills (May 20) and Bottelary Hills Renosterveld Conservancy (June 3) events, culminating in the #DrinkChenin day family festival fun ride (June 10). Wine-loving cyclists entering any of these four group events will receive entry discounts.
The last of these events, the annual #DrinkChenin event at Backsberg Family Wines, will showcase the Chenins of 20 top producers. Apart from a cycle ride, there will be live music, food on sale and activities to keep the children happy.
Referring to the six-week safari, Christina says: “The intention is to have responsible fun. We want participants to pace themselves, stick to the legal drinking limit and use the entire six-week period to fulfil their challenge commitments. In fact, we aren’t even limiting the challenge to cyclists. You can drive to each stop if that’s what you prefer!”
To register for the Chenin Safari and for one or more of the group events, for details of participating wineries and their tasting options and prices, for details of where to upload your images, as well as lucky draw entry conditions for the specific prizes on offer, go to https://chenin.co.za/cheninsafari.