South Africa is home to over 95,000 hectares of vineyards and is the seventh largest wine-producing country in the world. And there’s no better place to explore the country’s top wine farms than the Cape Winelands – a striking stretch of land where the finest South African wines are cultivated. While the local vineyards are renowned for their impeccable blends of wines, they are also known for their picturesque settings of imposing mountains, lush green hills and beautiful landscapes. Most South African wineries offer tastings and tours – the perfect opportunity to see the rural countryside while indulging in the best local beverages. These sampled wines can often be purchased on site, which acts as a lovely keepsake to take home as a reminder of your South African getaway.
We put together a list of our top five finest vineyards to visit in the Cape Winelands, where wine-connoisseurs can enjoy the most tantalizing wines, superb cuisine and breathtaking vistas.
Groot Constantia Wine Estate, Constantia
Constantia is an up-market suburb in Cape Town and one of the oldest areas in the city. The area is a popular tourist destination owing to its remarkable vineyards, Dutch farmhouses and contemporary mansions. The Constantia Valley, where the vineyards are found, is set in the shadow of the Constantiaberg Mountain and offers some stunning, rich wine.
As the oldest wine-producing estate in South Africa, Groot Constantia has to be the first on our list. Groot Constantia was the first wine farm to be established in the country, and today their wine is made with the same heart and tradition as that of its founder, Simon van der Stel of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). Travellers will find a visit to the farm an enriching experience, as the history behind Groot Constantia makes their award-winning wine even more interesting. Wine tastings include a cellar tour, and those with a sweet tooth can also book a chocolate and wine pairing. Besides wine tasting, guests can visit the farm’s historical buildings, which form part of the Iziko Museum.
Spier Wine Farm, Stellenbosch
Stellenbosch is situated roughly 50 km from Cape Town in the shadow of the Stellenbosch Mountain Range. The town is the second oldest settlement in South Africa, and has one of the most fertile soils resulting in a beautiful array of red, white and pink wines.
Spier is by far the most popular vineyard in Stellenbosch, with lush green grass stretching for kilometres, and towering trees scattered across the farm. The tasting room is set on the banks of the Spier dam, and visitors can take in the sights of the Helderberg Mountains while sipping on delicious wines. Spier’s signature wines are paired with a variety of foods, including olives, cheeses and cured meats. Travellers seeking something more to eat can indulge in a meal made from fresh produce at Spier’s Eight Restaurant. They can then end off the perfect day with a picnic or a Segway tour through the vineyards.
La Motte Wine Estate, Franschhoek
The picturesque valley of Franschhoek boasts some of the most awe-inspiring views in South Africa and is the epitome of natural beauty. There is plenty to experience in this quaint town, including world-class cuisine, wine tours and tastings (on a wine tram!), and gorgeous locally-made art.
La Motte is an internationally renowned winery owned by the Rupert family, and throughout the years the farm’s wine has won several coveted awards. At La Motte, wine tasting is a cultural experience. Visitors can sample La Motte’s superb wines while admiring the artwork that adorns the walls. The farm’s museum offers visitors a glimpse into the life of the Rupert Family and the history of the estate. After a day of drinking, visitors can stop at La Motte’s farm shop, where they’ll find a selection of farm-baked confectionaries, artisan breads and other tempting treats.
Theuniskraal Wines, Tulbagh
Tulbagh is a sleepy village nestled in a basin fringed by imposing mountain sides and an unspoiled valley. Wine has been produced for many years in the village on a commercial scale, but only recently have large advances been made, with many new vineyards being planted and more private cellars being built.
Situated in the heart of Tulbagh, Theuniskraal is a first-rate wine farm surrounded by the Obiqua, Winterhoek and Witzenberg mountains, creating the perfect environment to cultivate vines for winemaking. Theuniskraal was one of the first white-wine estates in South Africa, and today the farm produces a variety of wines. These tantalizing beverages can be sampled at the tasting centre. Only an hour away from Cape Town, wine tasting at Theuniskraal is a wonderful addition to a holiday in the Mother City.
Laborie Wine Farm, Paarl
Paarl is the third oldest settlement in the Western Cape and makes up the largest area along the Cape Winelands route. The city offers an interesting combination of a bustling urban area with stunning orchards, vineyards and farms.
Laborie Wine Farm – an estate situated on the foothills of Paarl Mountain – is home to some of these vineyards, whose grapes are harvested and used to produce the farm’s 20 distinct wines. Wine tastings offer guests the opportunity to sample the farm’s produce, after which they can enjoy a delicious meal at one of Laborie’s three restaurants. Travellers who wish to enjoy everything the wine farm has to offer without the burden of travelling back to the city can stay in one of the farm’s luxury guest rooms, set among the vineyards. The farm is so beautiful you simply won’t want to leave!
Colin Dilland is Owner and Managing Director of East Cape Tours and Safaris.
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