It’s called Bottle, Plate, Pillow – a search engine for Western Cape wine farms, and what makes it different from anything I’ve seen thus far is how user-friendly it is, and how specific it allows you to be in your query.
There are three general categories:
- ‘Bottle’ (cellar door & wine farm activities),
- ‘Plate’ (Wine farm restaurants) and
- ‘Pillow’ (wine farm accommodation)
For each of these you can narrow down your search by selecting several or all options listed, such as ‘Open Saturday’, ‘Curio shop’, ‘Picnics’, ‘wheelchair friendly’ (under ‘Bottle’) or ‘Wi-fi’, ‘Outside dining’, ‘vegetarian’ (under ‘Plate’) or ‘Budget’, ‘pet-friendly’, ‘self-catering’ (under ‘Pillow’).
Within each category, this search can be performed for all wine routes, a particular area/route, or can be further honed to include only one winery name. You can even look for ‘garagiste winemakers’, if you’re feeling experimental.
If that’s not enough choice for you, though, you can also decide on a ‘varietal’ (ie your preferred type of wine, port, brandy or bubbly) and search for it, within any of the available wine routes.
Information for each wine farm includes a brief description, a few photos, the list of haves and have-nots, location details, contact details, website address and even a ‘show map and GPS’ button (though that function doesn’t seem to be working just yet).
You can download a restaurant menu at the click of a button, and – usefully – switch between ‘Bottle’, ‘Plate’ or ‘Pillow’ information for that same wine farm, depending on what’s available… without having to start the search all over again.
I’m no wine fundi, so I don’t know which wine farms should and shouldn’t be on the list – but I really like the way this website is laid out, and I suspect it could become an invaluable tool novice and expert wine enthusiasts alike.
“Bottle, Plate and Pillow, was built by wine lovers, for wine lovers. Whether you are a wine newbie, or a tasting fundi, Bottle, Plate and Pillow believes that exploring South Africa’s beautiful wine lands should be simple, affordable, and accessible to everyone.”
Now there’s a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree. Bottle Plate Pillow has only just been launched (March ’09), but I have a feeling it won’t take long to become very popular indeed.