Guide to South African Wine Country
Guide to South African Wine Country
South African wine country is its best kept secret. Not as if you needed another reason to visit Cape Town, but the wine region of this country is truly spectacular. From amazing Pinotage and Chardonnays, to breathtaking scenery that is unmatched anywhere in the world, to rock bottom prices, South Africa’s wine country might be the best in the world!
Whether it’s to drink South Africa’s unique Pinotage, a unique cross of Burgundy’s pinot noir with Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s hermitage (hence Pino-tage), to admire the breathtaking views of the forever stretching mountains, or just to relax on a Sunday afternoon (or get incredibly drunk), the winelands have it all. It makes for a perfect piece of a South Africa travel itinerary as well as for those looking to plan a honeymoon to South Africa!
There are hundreds of wine farms in and around Cape Town so where does one even begin? Anywhere is the right answer. I’ve been out to the wine country five times now and have maybe seen 25 or so different farms. All of them have been good great experiences, and unique in their own way. I’ve yet to encounter a “bad” wine farm. People in these parts have been making wine for centuries and they take their wine seriously.
For the restaurant connoisseurs, almost all the farms have a restaurant and some of Cape Town’s top restaurants are located in the winelands. Most importantly, wine tastings range from just 20-50, with some farms offering wine with chocolate and cheese pairings. A person could go to ten farms and still pay less than a single tasting in Napa Valley! The only downside? Most wine tastings will end around 5pm and trust me, the day flies by.
All this just adds to why Cape Town is one of the world’s best cities and the amount of things I wouldn’t get done if I lived in Cape Town is unfathomable.
One Day Itinerary In Wine Country
If you only have one day to explore the wine region from Cape Town, click here for my perfect 1 day itinerary that visits my favorite and most scenic wine farms.
SOUTH AFRICAN WINE REGIONS
There are different regions around Cape Town with Constantia being a close 20 minute drive, to Franschhoek located an hour away. I was only able to visit the three most popular; Constantia, Franschhoek, and Stellenbosch. There are numerous other lesser visited areas that I regret not going to (Durbanville, Paarl, etc.) that are all within driving distance from Cape Town. This post will mostly focus on the South African wine farms of those three areas.
Wine Tours Or Do It Yourself?
I’ve done a wine tour with wineflies.co.za and have driven myself out to the winelands many more times. While the tour was good, I can’t recommend enough to just do it yourself. Tours are on tight schedules going from one farm to the other, and while I had a good time doing it, it was my first trip to wine country and I didn’t know any better! Having the freedom to go whenever, wherever is imperative for a day touring wine farms. I think the only time I’d recommend a tour is if you’re by yourself.
Wine Farms Without A Car
If you do not want to join a tour, and do not have a car (or do not want to drive drunk), there are options too! UberX might be the best thing to have happened to Cape Town in awhile. From Camps Bay in Cape Town, you can take an UberX for ~R500 one way (~$35). Within Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, there are Ubers everywhere so when you’re ready to move on, just open your phone to book an Uber to the next winery.
Drinking And Driving In Stellenbosch
What about drinking and driving? Well, the first thought that ran through my mind when going on my wineflies wine tour was “wow what a great reason to get stupid drunk”. Turns out, the picturesque scenery and classy atmosphere brings out the inner gentleman in me and I was actually more interested in learning about wine and the intricacies involved in wine making than just making sure I got my money’s worth. With every subsequent visit, I learn more about different types of wine, and with every subsequent visit, I act like I know more about wine than I actually do.
Because of this, while I do get a little tipsy, I’m never drunk. Am I encouraging drunk driving? Perhaps…but will any South Africans think I’m crazy? likely not. In addition, there are no cops setting speed traps in Stellenbosch during the day so as long as I have my wits around me, I am fine. Without further ado, on to the wine farms I’ve visited!
A quaint little suburban town located 40 minutes outside of Cape Town, Stellenbosch is probably the best known wine producing region of South Africa. Rightfully so in my opinion. With stunning mountain backdrops and picturesque estates, it may be hard to wine taste without these things afterwards.
Stellenbosch town is a quaint little place resembling more of a New England colonial town than anything I’d envision for South Africa. It’s also home to the University of Stellenbosch where students drink wine, go to school, and drink more wine (at least that’s what I would do). Seriously though, with a drinking of age of 18 in this country, I’m not sure how I’d have done any school work if I went there.