Explore the Cape Winelands, with its backdrop of majestic mountain ranges, lush valleys and verdant vineyards. You can follow the various wine routes and stop for tastings at wine estates along the way. You will have the chance to purchase and ship home some of the wines you have tasted.
South African wine has a proud history dating back to 1659, when the first wine recorded in South Africa was produced by the founder of the Cape, Jan van Riebeeck. French Huguenots settled in the Franschhoek Valley in the late seventeenth century, seeking refuge from religious persecution in Europe and bringing with them precious root-stock to establish the wine-growing industry in South Africa. By the time of Napoleon, wine produced by Constantia, a vineyard near Cape Town, was considered by Europeans to be one of the greatest wines in the world. Anti-apartheid sanctions hit the wine industry hard, but since independence in 1994, access to international markets has unleashed a burst of new energy and new investment, and South African wines are once again winning awards across the world.
The Cape Winelands region has a Mediterranean climate that is marked by intense sunlight and dry heat in summer, with cold and wet winters – ideal climatic conditions for viticulture.
There are 18 different wine routes, but the principal ones are the Constantia, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl Wine Routes, with the Hermanus, Worcester, Wellington, Darling and Robertson Wine Routes also featuring prominently. Each wine route has a wide range of wine estates and wineries: ranging from historical to avant garde and from garagiste to large scale producers. Many of the wine estates offer informative guided wine-tastings to the public as well as cellar tours or tours of the vineyards. Some of them also make cheese, chocolate and olive oil and offer tastings of these products alongside their wines. Many of them have on-site restaurants offering food that ranges from gastronomical delights to picnic hampers to enjoy under the oak trees.
Even if you are not a wine lover, there is plenty to do in the Winelands and it is a great family destination.
• Stellenbosch – South Africa’s 2nd oldest town and known as the “town of oaks”
• Franschhoek – distinct French feel and South Africa’s gourmet capital
• Paarl – imposing granite domes and monument to the Afrikaans language
• Wine-tastings and cellar tours
• Superb restaurants, some of which have made international Top50 lists
• Gourmet picnics
• Dramatic mountain passes and scenic drives
• Cheetah Outreach Centre near Somerset West – captive breeding programme
• Goat towers at Fairview Wine Estate
• Butterfly World
• Horse-riding – wine tasting on horseback
• Cathedral cellar at Nederburg
• Mountain bike trails