Perhaps without the same prestige of Bordeaux, Napa Valley, or Tuscany, South Africa’s Cape Winelands are often overlooked, even by serious wine snobs (which I can state quite confidently as fact since my own mother, a self-proclaimed wine snob, didn’t even realise SA was a major wine producer until planning this trip). Whatever Stellenbosch and Franschhoek may lack in world renown, however, they more than make up for in great wine, inexpensive tastings, and stunning vineyards set against a characteristically Western Cape backdrop of rolling mountains. With a lifetime in the Cape Winelands, it’s still unlikely that you’d be able to visit all 600-hundred-something vineyards that span the region, but mum and I did our best to ingest as much vino as humanly possible in our few days so that we could recommend a few favourites.
Although it is possible to just show up at various cellar doors in your own car and pay for a tasting on the spot, it is much better to join a tour, whether it is the cheaper and more casual hop on/hop off option or a private tour with a wine expert. Not only will you be guaranteed great seating and quick service with the group, but you’ll also avoid driving drunk, not to mention all the stress of navigating. We joined a hop on/hop off tour in Stellenbosch for about R300 that carted us around to 5 wineries and had a phenomenal time with our group of 8. Another day, we also hired a private driver for R3000 to take us to another 5 wineries, which was an equally lovely day, but a lot more expensive and less social, though more personal and customised.
Depending on the winery, a tasting could be anywhere from R20-70 (although it might be waived if you buy a bottle) and include 3-8 wines. Considering that many of the pours were also half the glass, you’d struggle to go to even a single winery and stay under the legal driving limit. We were suitably shocked by the low cost of tasting and even the low cost of buying a whole bottle, which was often only R80 for an amazingly good wine.
The #1 favourite in terms of wine and scenery
Great restaurant and lovely wine
Lanzerac Wine Estate
Surprisingly good white and red wines at a beauitful winery
Boschendal Wine Estate
A huge wine estate with a good restaurant and a little deli to buy picnic foods, excellent wine
Delaire Graff Estate
A super posh winery with a beautiful tasting room and great wine
Incredibly good wine, indoor tasting room overlooking the vineyards and mountains
Kanonkop Wine Estates
Amazing wine with very friendly staff and a behind-the-scenes look at wine making
Blaauwklippen Wine Estate
Good wine, amazing restaurant, lovely scenery
A small and intimate winery with nice wine and a very rustic feel
Zorgvliet Wine Estate
Mediocre wine, but one of the most beautiful settings