Tuesday, 16 March 2021 06:16 AM
A must-do on your wine-touring list, Franschhoek is bordered by its own ogle-worthy mountain ranges and is known as the gourmet capital of South Africa. It’s home to a host of three-century-old wine estates and boutique wineries, most of which have their own world-class and award-winning restaurants that are booked up far in advance. Here, you’ll find all the classics and a variety of one-off, unique blends you won’t find anywhere else. Take a leisurely stroll through the quaint, French Huguenots-style town and taste the incredible food and wine culture they inspired. It’s practically impossible to find a wine estate you won’t enjoy; Lynx Wine Estate and Stony Brook Vineyards come highly recommended, and there are some wonderful food and wine pairings to be had. Enjoy an immersive Culinaria food and wine experience around in the bustling kitchen at Leopard’s Leap, or the super-exclusive Pierneef à La Motte and Five Wines tasting at La Motte. Elevate your Franschhoek winelands experience even further by exploring the valley via the Wine Tram, a vintage-style railway tram and open-air tram-bus that stops at a host of Franschhoek’s most distinguished wine estates.
There is little better than a frosted glass of sauvignon blanc to complement a sunshiny Cape Town day, or the swirl of fine merlot to warm a winter’s wine tasting. Whatever the season, the Western Cape – South Africa’s wine-producing capital – is always packed with world-class wine tasting experiences in the most incredible of natural locations. Better yet, whichever direction you head in, you can rest assured, you won’t need to travel very far from the city centre to get to your wine lover’s Eden.
The Western Cape comprises six exquisite wine regions and 26 districts that all boast their own unique rendition of a Winelands landscape; think rolling hills and open flatlands, blanketed in luscious vineyards, contrasted by the purple-blues of scraggy mountain peaks, and the sweet smell of countryside air. Here, we unpack the magical offering of five of the most popular districts, including Constantia, Durbanville, Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Franschhoek.
Located at the foot of the stunning Constantiaberg mountain range, this award-winning wineland dates back to 1685, making it the oldest wine region in South Africa. Just a stone’s throw away from the city centre, a mere 15-minute drive, Constantia offers you a choice of eight critically-acclaimed wine estates and boutique wineries. This wine region is renowned for its production of white wines, more specifically Sauvignon Blanc and sweet wines, for which they have been celebrated since the 1700s. Make sure to make a turn and a taste at South Africa’s very first wine farm, Groot Constantia. At this wineland paradise, you can enjoy al fresco picnics boasting delicious gourmet produce and indulge in a variety of history-steeped wine tastings at any one of their many on-site restaurants.
A twenty-minute drive from Cape Town will find you in the unspoiled Durbanville wine valley. Comprising 12 wine estates, this is the land of Sauvignon Blanc, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Chardonnay. This region plays host to a number of renowned wine festivals during the summer and is an excellent district in which to spend your days sipping on world-class wines, complemented by specially-paired lip smackers for even the most discerning of palates. There are also a host of award-winning eateries in Durbanville, making it not only a wine lover's delight but a foodie’s paradise, too. You can dine in a converted stable overlooking Diemersdal Wine Estate’s historic vineyards, or head to Canto for their signature macaron and MCC tasting.
An ancient town that oozes an air of majesty, Stellenbosch seems almost frozen in time and is home to some of the most well-kept Dutch architecture in the country. Comprised of some 150 wine estates, this region is renowned for its stellar blends of red and produces wine from practically all grape varieties. Its five sub-routes – Greater Simonsberg, Helderberg, Bottelary Hills, Stellenbosch Berg, and Stellenbosch Valley – offer visitors a varied and culturally vibrant wine-tasting experience, interlaced with incredibly scenic tours that are likely to have you as impressed with the scenery as you are with the wines. Explore the walk-in cheese room of Jordan Restaurant at Jordan Wine Estate, or sip on some Sauvignon Blanc at the edge of a cliff as you look onto views that stretch all the way to False Bay at Tokara Wine Estate. You can celebrate the sweet life with a wine and chocolate experience at Waterford Estate, where custom-created dark and milk chocolates create a flavour sensation when paired with the estate’s Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Natural Sweet wines. Those with a bubbly disposition should head to Villiera Wines for a MCC and nougat pairing to make their taste buds pop.
While it's highly acclaimed for its red and white blends, Paarl is the home of Shiraz. A 40-minute drive from the Cape, Paarl is the second oldest wine route in South Africa and comprises 70 wine producers that range from age-old family estates to industrial cellars. For those looking for a little more variety, Paarl offers a host of craft breweries, artisanal cheese producers, brandy cellars, and olive oil makers. Throw out a blanket beneath a hundred-year-old oak tree on the expansive green lawns of the award-winning Nederburg Wine Estate and savour a sunshine-doused picnic as you sip on your selection of tasty wines and marvel at the surrounding mountain ranges. You can perfectly pair artisanal marshmallows with your wine at Perdeberg Winery, or try both deliciously rich cheesecake with Laborie MCC and flaky pastry pies with the KWV’s The Mentors premium wine range at the KWV Wine Emporium.