Leleshwa wine tour... not your ordinary wine tour
By Tony Karanja
The Leleshwa wine tour is not your typical wine tour. It is more like a wine farm walkabout, but one that fills you with great pride just knowing that in under 30 years, it will make it to Kenya's already decorated tourism destinations’ list.
If you are familiar with the wine business, then you will appreciate that the wine business is not for the faint-hearted. This is an investment that requires more than just the huge capital that goes into starting it up. It also takes an insurmountable amount of patience - a rare virtue in entrepreneurs in Kenya. And even with this, its take-off and survival is still not guaranteed.
I say this because I do not want you to compare the Leleshwa wine farm walkabout with your Stellenbosch, Franschoek or Groot Constancia experience. That wouldn’t be fair. Some of these vineyards have been around for centuries. In fact, Groot Constatncia has been around for a record 332 years.
With that understanding, we set out on a walkabout to the famed homegrown Leleshwa Vineyard, situated at the Morendat farm in Naivasha, it is about a 2-hours drive from Nairobi by road and approximately 95 kilometres from the city. The tours are held annually between October and December. The tour fully depends on the frequency of bookings. From our booking experience, it is evident that the interest is growing and soon we may have to book months in advance.
The tour starts at 10:00am. This means that you have to factor in your travel time especially if you are joining in from out of town. It is prudent to layer your clad as the sun peels off fairly fast. Pick sneakers over boots. You might need your sun hat and sunglasses; the scarf has no rules. Pack light, it is not that kind of a trek. The team provides drinking water and that’s a litre or so, off your luggage.
In terms of what to expect, you will start with the beef farm. Lots of pedigree beef…sorry, cows. It is just difficult not to view the live animals as plated. My friend Esther only had visions of the handbags the hides these would produce. She has an eye.
Next we went to the actual vineyard. About 4,000 acres of in total. Our most treasured lesson for the day was that there is a stark difference between table grapes and wine grapes. What this means is that you cannot make wine from your everyday grocery grapes. This got me wondering if I can make cider from my table apples.
We also learnt that for the first time, Leleshwa will bring to market the Chenin Blanc which has been in the making for 4 years. From what we sampled, the Chenin Blanc has so much potential to win some international awards.
Leleshwa is also testing for Malbec. The vines have a few more months to harvest. So be on the lookout for a bottle of Leleshwa Malbec (2021) at your W&S. And with all the experience, knowledge, resources and ready market, I am not putting the likelihood of a Leleshwa Gin and Leleshwa Vodka too far out.
If you are looking for a slightly different experience than the wine farm walkabout, they should be harvesting in Q1 of 2021. Hopefully they can open up the harvesting experience to the public. We are told the harvesting starts at 3:00am in the morning. So you can plan around this. For bookings, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost is 10,000/- per person and this covers an all light breakfast, a post walkabout 3-course meal paired with bottomless wine.