For a self-confessed wine lover South Africa is just paradise. Imagine going for wine tasting and spending the day in the most scenic vineyards, sipping on the most excellent wines, with the picturesque mountains as your backdrop. Treat yourself to a cheese platter to go with the wine and there you go, happiness has arrived. I went on a seven-day tour through the wine regions of South Africa (Western Cape) and visited eight wine producing towns. It was probably the best seven days of my life, doing what I do best, sipping on fine wine whilst enjoying the views and explanations of the various types of wine. It took my tasting skills to the next level. Read more here about the 19 best vineyards in South Africa, that I selected for you.
Constantia is an upper-class suburb of Cape Town, it lies just 15 kilometers from the center. Do you only have an afternoon free for wine tasting? This would be your best choice to experience a small bit of the exquisite and aged beauty that is Constantia wine region.
Constantia Glen is the favorite wine estate for many Capetonians. The weekends are busy but it doesn’t feel overcrowded, because of the many lovely seating variations available. You can enjoy a wine tasting in the classy wine bar, outside on the terrace, in a private vintage styled room, the conservatory or outside on the lawn with a blanket and pillows overlooking the vineyards on the lush green rolling hills. Whatever option you choose you can’t go wrong! This vineyard is specialised in blending their wines. I loved the Constantia Glen Three, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Order one of the divine food platters and you can easily spend the whole afternoon here relaxing with great wine and a picturesque view, enjoy!
Stellenbosch is the first place you’ll reach after Cape Town. If you want to visit all the vineyards here you’ll probably need several weeks because there are dozens of them. Don’t have that much time for wine tasting? Luckily for you, I selected the top ones.
This vineyard was an easy pick as I bought two bottles of Labyrinth Cabernet Sauvignon at my last wine tasting in Amsterdam. This is a unique wine which I served over a special Christmas dinner. Visiting the actual vineyard and tasting more of the amazing wine was, of course, my number one priority. The setting of Simonsig is stunning. The lush garden is so appealing that you would love to stay the whole day. The red wines are the best, specifically the Frans Malan Cape Blend made from the powerful trio of Pinotage, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. For only six euro you can have an excellent wine to take home with you, or better, buy a whole case!
Marianne is a vineyard where you can experience wine tasting paired with Biltong. Biltong is cured dried meat which is exceedingly popular in South Africa, not really my cup of tea as a Dutchy who loves cheese. The cheese platter and the terrace with the panoramic view overlooking the vineyard made it one of my personal favorites. Many wines from Marianne won awards and during the wine tasting: you will be blown away by the quality Marianne has to offer.
Kleine Zalze offers five wine tastings of your choice for just 25 rand (which is not even two euro). This tasting area is more personal and the service is excellent. The staff takes time to explain the wine thoroughly so stay focused and you might just learn a thing or two. As a huge champagne lover, I was taken by surprise with the sparkling Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. These two grapes are a perfect mixture of elegance and richness. Take a stroll around the garden after your tasting and stay for lunch at the relaxed fine dining restaurant Terroir, you won’t be sorry!
Delaire Graff Estate
For a high-class wine tasting this is the place to be. Delaire Graff Estate is one of the vineyards where it’s always better to book a tasting in advance. Make sure to ask for a seat outside and be overwhelmed by the breathtaking mountain range that surrounds the vineyards. Qualified sommeliers serve five wines for 50 rand (360 euro). The Cabernet Franc Rose is very light in color and the handpicked grapes stand for a juicy, crisp and dry finish. Looking for a bistro-chic style dinner or lunch? The Delaire Graff restaurant turns food into art, highly recommended.
Most tastings end around four or five o’clock in the afternoon, but Peter Falke is open until seven pm. That means, if you are still thirsty, there is plenty more to taste, happy days! The traditional Cape Dutch buildings give the estate a rustic atmosphere from the outside. The owner’s wife is an interior designer whose style offers a great contrast to the modern twist inside the tasting room. My preference is tasting wine on the outside terrace which overlooks the flourishing bright green lawn. Done with your wine tasting? Go for a sundowner on the lawn and sip your favorite Peter Falke wine while relaxing on the lounge bean bags.
Franschhoek is just a 30-minute drive from Stellenbosch. This is a very small town but most of the vineyards are well-known worldwide: definitely a place where you should go for a day or two to unwind and enjoy all that the vineyards have to offer.
La Petit Ferme
La Petite Ferme is my favorite place in Franschhoek. They offer a wine tour with tasting every day at eleven o’clock, but that is not all – their restaurant is outstanding. I was here two years ago on a reservation I had made two months in advance. This time I went back and was very lucky to be given a table for lunch outside on the porch. This is probably one of the best restaurants in the wine region and the views are breathtaking. Good food, good wine and fantastic landscapes equal a good life. Go and see for yourself, but just to be sure to make a booking well in advance! Read more about the restaurant in the blog 4 x fine dining in South Africa.
This is another vineyard that is open until seven in the evening during summer. This is a vineyard you save for last as the others close earlier. The executive chef and winemaker at Grande Provence has created a very special wine and food tasting, not the regular red wine and meat pairing. Here texture, weight and flavour are taken into account. Are you looking for just a good wine tasting? Go for the premium Grande Provence wine tasting where the Zinfandel is simply exquisite. I couldn’t stop myself and purchased a bottle to pair with goats cheese, amazing!
Boschendal lays a bit further out of Franschhoek but is well worth the drive. I fell in love with the first wine I tasted – the Blanc de Noir which is a white wine made from red grapes with red berry fruit notes. The combination of dry and a bit of fruity flavor is for me a winner. Good news, the bottle costs only 55 rand (4 euro). On a hot sunny day this is a place where you can enjoy your wine tasting underneath the high trees to provide you with cooling shade.
If you stay in Cape Town and you don’t have too much time to see the entire Cape wine region, Durbanville would be a great choice. In the Tygerberg Hills lies the Durbanville Wine Valley which consists of 12 wineries. Make sure to visit the following two estates.
This wine is rather well known in South Africa. The vineyard lies on top of a picturesque hill which overlooks Table Mountain and Robben Island. Unfortunately, you can’t see Table Mountain views during a wine tasting. No stress though, afterwards you can go to the first floor for lunch or dinner at the restaurant and you’re in for a gorgeous panoramic view.
For Table Mountain views, whilst wine tasting, this is where you want to go. The view is visible from the tasting room inside as well as from the outside terrace (on a clear day). The tasting options are between the Premium or the Flagship wines. Go for the Flagship tasting, you won’t be disappointed.
In the Western Cape, you will find a town by the name of Paarl which is best known for its spicy red and crispy white wines. Day tourists from Cape Town usually only visit Durbanville, Stellenbosch, and Franschhoek. Paarl is less commercial but that makes it more interesting to visit.
I was very keen to see the winery of my favorite Dutch wine shop, Grapedistrict. They arranged a personal tour and tasting for me in the winery of Perdeberg, which lies at the foot of the Paardeberg Mountain. Perdeberg buys its grapes from various vineyards throughout the Western Cape. It offers a wide range of grapes from the dry land which means they are growing in tough conditions. These grapes are more complex and in the end, this means more flavour! Perdeberg made it into my top five brands in South Africa. Why? Read the full blog here about the tour and tasting.
Fairview wine and cheese
Fairview Wine Estate is well organised. There are several barrel-shaped wine bars that offer a more social wine tasting. You can choose from two options, classic tasting or something different. I chose the ‘something different’ wine option which includes two whites and four reds. Fairview also specialises in cheese. The pairing with cow and goat cheeses is to die for! The Drie Papen Fontein made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion grapes was my number one wine. Bonus, there is a small shop where you can buy delicious bread and your favorite cheese to go with the Fairview wines.
Okay, I have to admit I did not do a wine tasting here but this is the place to lay outside on the lawn and look at the fantastic view. There is a wine tasting area but you can also grab a basket at the shop, get yourself some food and a bottle of Spice Route wine. Then choose your spot on the blankets outside to create your own little picnic. For the men, there is also a beer brewery and tasting on the property.
The town of Wellington does not have much to offer but is a great place to relax. I used it as my getaway link to the neighbouring town of Paarl. Of course, I searched for only the best wine estates in Wellington and I found two great ones, enjoy!
Val du Charron
First of all, if you’re looking for luxury this is what you want. Val du Charron is a wine and olive estate including a guesthouse and spa. For wine tasting surrounded by mountains, olives groves and vineyards this is the spot in Wellington. Make sure to grab a bite between your tastings at the restaurant Piza e Vino, where I really enjoyed the Melrose Arch pizza with chicken, avocado, feta, honey, cherry tomatoes and coriander!
This Wine Estate offers opportunities for a picnic outside on the grass fields. There is nothing better than having a picnic with a chilled bottle of wine. This estate provides you with picnics, wine tasting, beautiful scenery and a tranquil atmosphere. I preferred the red wines and the Dark Lady Pinotage was unique. This wine has a full bodied structure including a coffee and dark chocolate explosion in your mouth.
After a two hour scenic drive from Cape Town, you enter the Robertson Wine Valley. Robertson is traditionally known for its white wines. This area is amongst the largest wine producing areas, heavenly!
Are you in for wine and chocolate pairing? Or dessert wine and nut pairing or maybe you prefer sparkling wine with meat? Van Loveren has many tasting choices which makes this place rather interesting. I had had lunch at their restaurant beforehand, so I went for a wine tasting which included four wines for 20 rand (1,50 euro). Try the Cape Ruby Port, perfect for a dessert wine.
De Wetshof specialises in white wines with the emphasis on Chardonnay. Each vineyard of De Wetshof is planted on site-specific soils. The plant materials used give the wine specific flavours. After tasting eight of their wines I came to the conclusion that they were the best Chardonnay’s I’ve had in my life! They export to 31 countries around the globe, so if you come across them, get the Limestone Hill Chardonnay, cheers!
If you continue on the wine route in the Robertson Valley it will lead you to the small town of Bonnievale, alongside the Breede River. This was the end of my wine tour and to celebrate this amazing week I decided not only to taste the wine at a vineyard, but to stay over at one too!
Well tucked away from the main road is the beautiful and established Bushmanspad Estate. The scenic drive through the vineyard made me smile and I felt instantly at home. The tasting room is by far the smallest I’ve seen in South Africa but this makes it even more charming. They produce one rose, one Sauvignon and six red wines. The wines are of high quality and fairly priced. The rose is only 44 rand (3,20 euro) and the prices rise up to 175 rand (12,70 euro) for the red specialty, The Menno. The cottages at the Bushmanspad Estate are incredible. Imagine waking up on top of a hill overlooking vineyards and mountains as a backdrop, stunning. My full blog about my stay at the Bushmanspad Estate is coming soon!
Wine lovers out there, visit the Western Cape in South Africa because it goes beyond your wildest wine dreams.