I don’t understand something and no-one has been able to explain it in a way that makes any sense. Many people have agreed with me but I don’t see anyone making an effort to pressure the industry to change this.
Here’s the thing: wine estates in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek close much too early in summer.
There are plenty of other wine regions (where establishments also close early) but I’m mainly concerned with these two because they’re the ones tourists want to see the most and they’re the ones that are all over social media begging us to bring visitors. They hire expensive PR companies, they arrange great events, but for a simple wine tasting with the potential sales that this will encourage, it’s strictly short hours. Most open at 10:00 which makes sense because who wants to taste wine any earlier, but they almost all close at 17:00 and some even earlier.
Many visitors don’t realise how vast the regions are so they only set aside one day for wine tasting (instead of spending a few nights in the winelands to make that their base for wine tasting). This means that if you remove the time it takes to have lunch, visit the towns themselves – which would be crazy to miss, and get around, you have at most 3 hours for wine tastings and cellar-tours. Yet, by the time most places close there are 3 to 4 hours of daylight left!
Of course there are some estates that stay open later than others but there are too few of them and they’re not always the ones that clients want to visit – many visitors arrive with a bucket list of wines to taste after having researched in advance.
For our wine tours, I need a place with magnificent views of the sunset where my clients can have a last tasting before heading back to town. It can’t be on Hellshoogte Pass because that’s too middle-of-the-day – closer to the N2 would work. I might have to build it myself.