The Cape Winelands is a haven of gracious, white-gabled farmsteads evoking a rich and elegant heritage. Titillate your taste buds while savouring some of the world’s finest wines
The South African wine industry has come a long way since the first unsuccessful attempt to grow grapes in 1652 in the area known today as the Cape Winelands. Jan van Riebeeck was lavish in his praise of the first wine produced in 1659. Others were less enthusiastic, and it took many years before Cape wines earned the respect of Europe. Holland had never been a wine producing country and so the Dutch did not initially succeed in producing drinkable wine. However, Dutch merchant traders noticed that crews on ships from the wine producing Mediterranean countries suffered less from the dreaded disease scurvy, and this was put down to their wine consumption. For this reason, Van Riebeeck decided to supplement his supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables from the Company Gardens with barrels of this noble liquid.
Towards the end of the 17th century, freedom of religion was abolished in France and the Protestant Huguenots were persecuted and many were killed for their beliefs. Thousands fled to Holland where some found their way aboard ships bound for the little Cape settlement. They brought with them a sound knowledge of viniculture and were allocated land in the Cape Winelands – areas now known as Franschhoek, Paarl and Drakenstein, where they contributed to the improvement of the South African wine industry. The drink has long since passed the stage of being merely a remedy for scurvy, and today the South Africa wine industry and Cape wines are once again in demand around the world.
The traditional areas of the Cape Winelands consist of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl, Tulbagh, and Wellington. Today, the Cape’s winelands extend well beyond this district, incorporating newer vineyards to the north (Durbanville valley) and south (Constantia, Cape Point) of Cape Town, into the Breede Valley, Rawsonville, Overberg (Walker Bay, Agulhas) and Elgin, up the west coast (Darling) along the Olifants River, into the Swartland, and Klein Karoo.
Stellenbosch Wine Route
If there’s one wine route everyone knows, it’s this one. Sprawling out around the old university town of Stellenbosch, this vast, pretty locale is the most commercial and well established of all vino destinations in South Africa (in fact, it was the first wine territory to establish a co-ordinated wine route). In total, there are around 200 farms within the area’s boundaries, all offering something distinct, from MCC and nougat tastings to alfresco picnics. It would be simply impossible to take in all of Stellenbosch in one trip, so it’s advisable to break a visit down and focus on one of the five sub-routes at a time: Bottelary Hills, Greater Simonsberg, Helderberg, Stellenbosch Valley or Stellenbosch Berg).
Franschhoek Wine Route
Hands down, one of the most celebrated wine and food destinations in South Africa, the beautiful Franschhoek Valley, which was established by French Huguenot refugees in 1688, is a captivating blend of European charm and spectacular verdant scenery. The town itself is well worth a visit, with the main street being lined with high-end boutiques, fine dining restaurants and art galleries. Though, visitors will likely want to spend most of their time out and about on the Cape Dutch-style farms, which are renowned for making excellent versions of almost varietal. If sparkling wine appeals, there’s also a dedicated Cap Classique route here.
Paarl Wine Route
Perhaps most well known as the home of commercially popular winery Fairview and its famed goats, Paarl is the slightly more rural, covert sibling of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. That said, it’s also one of the most innovative wine regions in the Western Cape – it’s responsible for creating the world’s first white Pinotage and bottling SA’s first Bordeaux-style red blend. The more than 28 farms that make up the district are spread out around the iconic pearl-shaped Paarl Rock (the town takes its name from this mountain), so if you’re eager to do this route properly, you may want to stay over a night or two.
These very wines are some of the reasons to visit. People want a chance to experience the tasting of famous wines as they are freshly made. The wine tastings offer people a chance to also learn about the various wines – which are classified as woody, fruity and more. Guidelines are also provided as to with what meals specific wines should be coupled.
Stellenbosch is the second oldest town in South Africa and Franschhoek is known for offering some of the finest dining in the world. Paarl has the longest main road in South Africa and more than 100 heritage sites.
The winelands’ unsurpassed scenery with mountains, vineyards and Cape Dutch architecture as a backdrop, is a sought after location for weddings, conferences and special occasions. Explore wonderful towns such as Paarl, Robertson and the oak-lined streets of Stellenbosch.
Establishments offering Cape Winelands accommodation are also known for their fine cooking and frequently offer delicious food with South Africa’s finest wines.
The Cape winelands are easily accessible via Cape Town International Airport, which is around an hour’s drive from the various towns in the Cape winelands. Cape Town International receives flights from all across the world on a daily basis, along with regular domestic flights from Johannesburg and the Kruger Park area.
From Cape Town, the winelands towns are between 40 minutes and an hour’s drive from the city. If traveling from the Garden Route, the trip is typically between four and five hours, depending on whether you opt for Route 62 through the Little Karoo or the N2 highway through the pastoral Overberg.
Weather & Best Time To Visit
Cape winelands is a fantastic destination to visit at any time of the year, with beauty & culture, and many memories to be made. But, remember, if you do visit over “peak” period, you are sure to pay a premium. We recommend you visit Cape Town, in February & March. During this period, the crowds have slowed, and the weather is often perfect. Most visitors are international, and attractions are less busy, as most of the up-country friends have returned home. November, February, March, and even early to mid-April are fantastic times to visit Cape Town, as you will be sure to catch great weather, and not have to compete with the maddening crowds when booking Cape Town hotels, accommodation, restaurants, tours & other activities.
Cape winelands has a Mediterranean-style climate: wet and cool winters, dry and warm summers. The annual average temperature in Cape Town is a delightful 17 degrees. Cape Town lies on the 34th latitude South, together with Casablanca, Los Angeles and Sydney. However, as in the city of Cape Town itself, the weather on the Cape Peninsula is quite unique. The weather in Cape Town is influenced by two currents: the warm Agulhas current from the Indian Ocean side and the cold Benguela current on the Atlantic side. Winters in Cape Town are not like winters in Germany, Holland or England. Imagine a spring day in London, Amsterdam or Berlin. That’s what winters are like in Cape Town. Sometimes windy and rainy, mostly soft and breezy.
The Cape winelands are located in a malaria-free part of South Africa, which means that the only medical considerations you should keep in mind are to ensure that your routine vaccinations are up to date and that you bring along any prescription medication that you might be taking.
Health & Safety
Crime rates in the Boland are relatively low, and it is actually rather pleasant to walk along the main street of Franschhoek at night, with all the restaurants festively lit up for dinner. Nevertheless, avoid quiet areas after dark, and follow the advice of your guide.
tourAfrika’s transportation requirements to the Cape Town Winelands assured to be always be safe, comfortable, reliable, private and air-conditioned vehicle. All our vehicles are serviced regularly, adhere to all local safety requirements, legally licensed to carry passengers and hold the appropriate passenger liability insurance. The size of the vehicle by and large depends on the size of your traveling party. For smaller groups or couples, we usually make use of a Toyota Fortuner 4×2 vehicle. Larger groups are transferred in our spacious 7 seater microbus or an appropriate coach. In periods of peak demand, particularly in holiday season, we frequently hire vehicles from a rental companies of good repute that conform to the same high standards as we do.
Which town will I be staying in?
Hotels, guest houses and wine farms where you stay are normally in Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and limited number are in the outskirts of Paarl.
Can I choose which wine farms I would like to visit?
Yes, on review with your tour guide the farms to be toured should you may raise your preferences a day before the tour is undertaken.
Should I make restaurant reservations?
Yes. Because the winelands host some of South Africa’s best restaurants and hence high patronage is experienced, reservations are urged.
Can I enjoy the Cape Winelands if I am not a wine drinker?
Yes, there is more to do in the Cape Winelands than drink wine – it’s just that the wine makes it all the more fun.
Which wine farms are the best?
The answer to this assessment is quite a personal opinion. Vergelegen (Somerset West), Peter Falke Wine Estate (Stellenbosch), Waterkloof Wine Estate (Somerset West), Morgenster Wine & Olive Estate (Helderberg) and Guardian Peak (Stellenbosch) farms are extra special for a variety of reasons.
How far are the winelands from Cape Town?
The wine farms of Stellenbosch are the closest in distance to Cape Town and are within a 45-minute drive of the city centre.
Can children enjoy the winelands?
Yes. The Cape Winelands which offers an amazing array of activities for kids.
How many wine farms will I visit?
Our tours are adaptable to suit your schedule and practical limitations. We normally restrict the amount of wine farms for the day to three to ensure that our visitors do not feel hurried and giving them ample time exhaustively tour each farm.
Trek South Africa's southern shoreline from Mother’s City, Cape Town to the Eastern Cape's Addo Elephant National Park. As you voyage between you will adore the chiselled captivating of the Overberg and the exciting exploits …
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