Visitors to South Africa’s Cape shouldn’t miss out on the wineries in the region – both for their wine and for their often magnificent natural settings. However, you simply can’t visit all the top wine estates in a day or even a week, so it’s important to plan a route before setting out. Choose estates that are roughly in the same region to minimize the time you spend travelling. You’d also benefit from picking up a copy of John Platter’s Wine Guide, the definitive guide to South African wineries.
Home to many of South Africa’s finest vineyards, Stellenbosch is also the seat of an historic university and a centre for Cape Dutch architecture. The vineyards in the region are best known for their robust merlots. Among the many well-known estates in the Stellenbosch winelands are Spier, Simonsig and Villiera.
Perhaps the most popular of all the Cape’s wineries, Spier is located in the heart of the Stellenbosch winelands. It produces some of the region’s finest wines and is known for its beautiful setting. Kids will enjoy horse rides along the beautiful lake and picnicking on its shores, and golfers will enjoy the course that the estate has to offer. Spier also offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about birds of prey through its Eagle Encounters rehabilitation, conservation and education program. Guests are invited to hold tame birds and to participate in the daily flying display.
Named after the gorgeous views it offers of the Simonsberg Mountains, Simonsig was founded in 1688, making it one of the country’s oldest wine estates. It has earned several awards for its red, white and sparkling wines, thanks to the legacy of wine-making expertise in the Malan family – who have run the estate since its establishment.
Known by many as a value-for-money destination, Villiera is known for its high-quality wines and high level of service. Visitors are free to tour the estate’s cellars and to watch as the grapes are loaded into the working presses. The estate also offers visitors a 2-hour game drive and some spectacular opportunities for bird watching.
Named after the English Cape Governor during the 1800s, Lord Henry Somerset, the town and surrounding area of Somerset West lies within half an hour’s drive from Cape Town and is host to many award-winning vineyards, including Vergelegen and Rust en Vrede. It’s also one of the best spots to visit to see unique Cape-Dutch style architecture.
With a rich history dating back to 1700, the Vergelegen estate includes acres of gorgeously maintained gardens, fine examples of Cape-Dutch architecture, and an enchanting camphor forest. Don’t forget the excellent wines on offer. The estate wins awards for its wines every year.
Rust en Vrede
Meaning “Rest and Peace” in English, this vineyard was established in 1694 and is deservedly famous. The Rust en Vrede estate blend has been voted among the World’s Top 100 Wines for most of the past decade, so be sure to sample it when you visit the estate’s award-winning restaurant.
Founded by French Huguenot settlers, Franschhoek Valley is known to many as the most beautiful of all the wine regions in the Cape. It is home to several wine estates, with magnificent mountains forming a backdrop and helping create the climate that results in perfect grapes for wine making. Franschhoek is also known as the gourmet capital of the Cape and is home to some of South Africa’s top restaurants, including a restaurant ranked as one of the top 50 in the world.
Having recently undergone an extensive series of renovations and improvements, this previously little-known vineyard is increasingly regarded as a must-see in the beautiful Franschhoek Valley. It’s renowned for its excellent Sauvignon Blanc and is home to a collection of paintings by the uniquely Cubist-influenced South African painter, Pierneef. La Motte includes a restaurant named after the artist that offers gourmet lunches and dinners. Visitors may also enjoy the chessboard with life-size chess pieces, and the gorgeous hiking trail that wraps around the estate.
Only minutes from central Cape Town, Constantia Valley offers rolling vineyards, beautiful mountains, historic buildings, and several top-rated restaurants.
Translated as “Large Constantia”, this vineyard is the largest in the area. Dating back to the 1600s, it is famous for producing sweet wines. The wines made here have been consumed by the likes of Napoleon and Queen Victoria, and have been written about by classic authors like Charles Dickens and Jane Austin. All proceeds made on this estate go to the City’s efforts to maintain the estate buildings. It’s one of the few non-privately owned wineries in the area.
The Durbanville wine route is located in the Tygerberg Hills, just a 20-minute drive from Cape Town. The area features twelve wineries, each offering fine wines and several with gourmet restaurants.
This estate is loved for its fruity, strong wines. Due to its proximity to the sea, it receives cool ocean breezes that make the grapes grown here perfect for chilled wines. They also make a good merlot. If you’re interested in getting to know a bit more about the wine-making process, we recommend that you visit the estate’s high-tech cellars, which stand in stark contrast to the generally more rustic cellars in the region. As well as wine tasting, the estate offers several mountain bike trails.