Weekend Getaway: In the Jewel of Free State

The Clarens Wine Event is one of the most-loved wine events and is usually held from the 28th – 29th September annually. It is a wine tasting showcase with more than 20 wineries and distillers with a range of over 60 products to taste from all over the world. Yes, this also includes sparkling wines from Germany and Italy (I even had the privilege of tasting a red sparkling wine for the first time!)

If you’re someone who loves wine and wants the experience of tasting world-class wines then this is an event for you. During the last weekend of September (also the last week of travel/tourism month) we drove up to Clarens for the highly anticipated wine event hosted my Echo Wine Events.

For the duration of the weekend we stayed at the cutest guest house called By The Way Guest House which felt like a home away from home and showcased some exceptional mountain views from our room. Once we settled in we decided to do a bit of exploring in the city known as Free State’s jewel. Visiting an art gallery and enjoying some sundowners before an evening of wine tasting.


STARTER: A Mezze platter paired with Slanghoek Merlot 2018.

MAIN: Tender Lamb Chops with Fries and Onion Rings, paired with Ballee Bleue Starlette Rouge 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot / Shiraz.

DESSERT: Bienenstich also known as Bee Sting cake which a German dessert paired KWV Demi-Sec.

The next day for brunch we enjoyed a morning of bubbly. Tasting all types of bubbles from Italy, France and South Africa. Unfortunately I can’t remember the exact brands and let’s blame it on the wine hangover which was no fun. 😦

One sparkling wine that I do remember and stood out for me was the red sparkling wine called Lambrusco which is a Northern Italy wine. It is made from a blend of various Lambrusco grapes and is a dry wine that’s light on the palate and easy to drink.

Here are some tips to keep in mind to make the most out of any event where you will be ‘tasting’ dozens (or hundreds!) of wines:

  • Ditch the perfume: Strong sells can interfere with the ability to smell and properly taste the wines. Gum and breath mints also alter the taste of wine.
  • Spit or Swallow: It’s totally your choice, and both are totally acceptable. It perfectly fine to drink all wine that has poured in your glass.
  • Don’t only drink wine: Keep hydrated and in-between sipping on glasses of wine remember to drink some water. This will help to clear your palate, as well as to keep you hydrated.
  • Book with Msinsi Travels: If you’re looking for immersive travel experiences in the winelands. Let us guide you to the best and most amazing food, wine and cultural experiences across the Cape and South Africa.

During our drive back we took the Eagle Route which offered a range of attractions that made our drive worthwhile. The route passes through Ladybrand, Clocolan, Ficksburg, Fouriesburg, Clarens, Bethlehem, Phuthaditjhaba, Harrismith and Memel.

For people who may not know Clarens is a small town situated in the eastern Free State and has everything for everyone, from adventure activities, to good food and beautiful arts and crafts.

We visited the majestic Maluti Mountains as you can see from the pictures is an out-of-this-world sight. Next time we wouldn’t mind having a picnic with this view. Later on our way just before entering Harrismith we stopped by to catch a glimpse of the crystal-blue Sterkfontein dam, and boy was it a spectacular view.

The weekend away to Clarens was definitely a great opportunity to experience a different side of South Africa. There are still so many more hidden gems that I can’t wait to discover and explore in our country. Overall the wine tasting experience was well put together and everything was paired perfectly with the wines matching the food that was offered.

I’m also super excited to announce that Msinsi Travels (our new travel and lifestyle business) will be offering an exciting and exclusive travel package for you to experience the beauty of Clarens as well as experience the incredible wine tasting event with great company.

Keep an eye out for that early next year! Eeeek, I’m so excited!!

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