Location

Cape Winelands

“South Africa’s culinary capital”

Picture-perfect Mountain Valleys filled with sunny vineyards, grand old Wine Estates and pretty towns combined with award-winning restaurants – the Cape Winelands, only an hours’ drive from Cape Town, are absolutely worth a visit. The most popular wine-making towns are Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, both within close driving distance and great to explore during a Winelands day tour.

The Cape Winelands are arguably some of the most scenic in the world, boasting different wine routes and hundreds of wineries producing some of Africa’s finest wines.

A mere forty-five-minute drive from Cape Town lies the university town of Stellenbosch with almost two hundred wineries producing a range of red and white wines to suit all palates. The historic town itself features well-preserved Cape-Dutch architecture, great museums and many quaint shops and art galleries. Not far away lies the town of Franschhoek, well known as South Africa’s culinary capital, with fine dining restaurants and characteristic Cape Dutch architecture which reflects the region’s French Huguenot influence. Apart from wine tastings in the area, visitors can also sample locally produced cheese, fruits and olives. Conveniently close to Cape Town, the suburb of Constantia offers some of the oldest and most beautiful wine estates in the country. This leafy area is known as the birthplace of South Africa’s wine-making industry.

The close proximity between the different wine regions making it an ideal day-trip destination in form of a Winelands day-tour. But as there is so much to see in the area, we recommend a longer stay. Luxurious Estates and Manor Houses as well as secluded boutique hotels making the Cape Winelands an ideal destination for couples and honeymooners, but there is also a wide selection of family-friendly accommodation and plenty of outdoor-activities.

Although not as well known as the wine valleys of Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Constantia, but ideal to combine with a self-drive along either the Garden Route or Whale Coast, are the wine estates of the Route 62 and the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley near Hermanus. These areas are off-the-beaten-track and offer beautiful scenery as well as delicious wines and local produces like cheese or bakery products.

The Cape Winelands are well-known and loved for a stand-out variety of different grapes and some that are only grown in South Africa like the Pinotage, a red wine grape that is South Africa’s signature variety. Other varietals include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz as well as excellent Cap Classique sparkling wines, the local version of Champagne.

Franschhoek

Breath taking scenery, world-class restaurants combined with the finest wines located in a quaint historic town with French heritage, all combine to create lasting memories. Franschhoek is a great choice for a food & wine holiday and known as the gourmet capital of South Africa. From French haute cuisine to traditional Cape flavours, this town has some of the most highly rated restaurants in South Africa and over 50 wineries throughout the village and its surroundings.

Idyllically located in the Cape Winelands, only an hours’ drive from Cape Town, lies the pretty town Franschhoek meaning ‘French Corner’ as it was founded by French Huguenots. The towns close proximity to Cape Town allows for day trips during which the visitor can explore many world-class wine estates in the area or just enjoy a stroll on the main street of Franschhoek, which is lined with art galleries, boutique stores and many excellent restaurants.

The fertile soil of the Franschhoek valley combined with its Mediterranean-like climate and a 300-year-old wine-making tradition has given the perfect grounds for many wine estates to become internationally known. Traditional varietals of the area include Chardonnay, Semillon, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cap Classique sparkling wine made in the traditional champagne-style.

A great way to explore the area during a wine tour is by using the Franschhoek Wine Tram which has different routes and works as a hop-on hop-off transfer. Another unique option is a wine tasting tour on horseback, which allows to explore the magnificent vineyards and mountain valleys from a different angle.

Stellenbosch

Not only the second oldest settlement in South Africa, but with over 140 wine estates also the historic centre of the Cape Winelands: Stellenbosch is a charming town just outside Cape Town with stunning mountain vistas and a historic story to tell. Enjoy a stroll through museums and individual shops in town or have a leisure picnic and wine tasting in one of the nearby wine estates.

The Stellenbosch Wine Route is South Africa’s oldest and most established wine route, dating back to the late 17th century when the Cape’s first governor, Simon van der Stel, recognised the potential of the region’s unique terroir for making extraordinary Wine. A short 45-minutes’ drive from Cape Town centre, this historic wine route comprises over 140 wine estates that are not only offering delicious wines but also berry, cheese and olive farming. The town centre itself is ideal to explore on foot with many shops, restaurants, and historical sites to explore. The second oldest town in South Africa is also known as city of oaks and streets lined with Cape Dutch, Georgian and Victorian architecture. Dorp Street is a national monument, take your time and wander around this cosy old part of Stellenbosch, with its secluded streets, water furrows, diverse restaurants and coffee bistros.

Surrounded by the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, Stellenbosch offers excellent hikes in the area – ideal for nature lovers. For the Wine enthusiast, there are plenty of different grape types to be tested as the Stellenbosch Wine Route is divided into five sub-routes. From Chardonnay to Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon, both whites and reds are well-represented due to Stellenbosch’s Mediterranean-like climate and diverse soil, that have made the region well-suited for wine production.

Route 62

Not far from Cape Town, the Western Cape features the longest wine route in the country. This picturesque journey begins in Cape Town and winds its way up to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, meanders through the country towns of Robertson, Montagu and Barrydale. The scenic and interesting drive offers winding mountain passes, winelands, fruit-bearing farmlands and dense forests. Route 62 is the perfect self-drive route from Cape Town to the Little Karoo and great to combine with the Garden Route.

Just an hours’ drive from Cape Town, Route 62 winds its way through a beautiful and diverse countryside. Passing the Breede River Valley, which is famous for its wine, you will reach the town of Robertson. Expect some of South Africa’s best-known Wine Estates in this area. The route then takes you through Monatgu, the getaway to the Little Karoo. An expansive semi-desert with extraordinary flora and Khoisan rock art, all of which make a visit well worth considering. From the Little Karoo, visitors can then choose to either cut across through mountain passes to the beaches and forests of the Garden Route or continue along Route 62 to the coastal town of Port Elizabeth.

A slight detour from Route 62 takes you to Swellendam, a quaint town whose wide streets are lined with fine Cape Dutch and Victorian buildings as well as many friendly guest houses, coffee shops and restaurants.

Historic towns, friendly locals, a stunning change in landscapes and affordable accommodation along the way, makes the Route 62 a great destination for families or couples and provides a memorable holiday experience.

When to Go

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Why we like it

  • Most popular wine-making towns are within an hours’ drive away from Cape Town
  • Franschhoek is known as South Africa’s food and wine capital
  • Stellenbosch is the second oldest town in South Africa
  • The Mountain Valleys of the area offer spectacular vistas
  • Great hospitality in the area and plenty of choice in accommodation type
  • Option to do a “classic” Winelands tour in a vehicle, a Wine-Tram, on a mountain bike or on horse back
  • Historical charm, culture and architecture of this area has a lot to offer
  • Great to combine with City, Whale Coast or Garden Route holiday

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