Did you know you can find some of the best vineyards in the world in South Africa? While you may know that South Africa is a major bucket list destination for many travelers, you may not know that just outside of Cape Town is a popular area called the Cape Winelands. This area, comprised of a few different towns, is wine country. It would be similar to Napa Valley in California, in that both regions are known for their vineyards, but the Cape Winelands are full of adventure and incredible wines to be had. If you’re looking to spend a weekend exploring the Cape Winelands, keep reading for the best vineyards in South Africa and the best experiences to see the vineyards!
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About the Cape Town Wine Region
The Cape Winelands is actually a small district comprised of many small towns located just outside of Cape Town. The area is rural in comparison to Cape Town proper, but the landscape is incredible, especially with the best vineyards in South Africa lining the rolling hills. There are many popular areas of the Winelands, but two very popular ones are Franschoek and Stellenbosch. Wherever in the Winelands you decide to visit, you will be greeted with beautiful atmospheres, great wine, incredible food, and adventures galore. Some of the vineyards even date back to the 1600s, so the history buffs will be thrilled as well!
Where to stay for the best vineyards in South Africa
While the lodging, guest houses, and resorts are plentiful in the wine region, finding a place that is perfectly suited for you and your travel party is important for making your trip just that much better. My personal experience and recommendation is to stay at the Chamonix Wine Farm in Franschoek. This stunning property has a variety of accommodations, and is situated overlooking the main street in Franschoek. This accommodation is home to a game reserve (with zebras, ostrich, eland, springbok, and more), overlooks a vineyard, has an overwater lake restaurant, a waterfall lodge, and SO much more. I was truly blown away, and we didn’t even experience all that the property has to offer. When I return to South Africa, I will definitely be staying again!
The Best Vineyards to Visit in Stellenbosch
Stellenbosch is one of the closest vineyard towns to Cape Town proper. It is a bit spread out, and is separated into a few different areas within the region, so if you want to experience all of these best vineyards, you should plan for a day or two in the area. These vineyards offer a variety of tastings, experiences, and history. Stellenbosch definitely has a more relaxed feel, and it’s easy to spend two days in the region, as you’ll likely spend a few hours at each vineyard to soak in all of what the best vineyards in South Africa has to offer.
If you’re a fan of sparkling wines, then Villera Wines in Stellenbosch is probably going to be one of your favorite vineyards on this list. If you book the standard wine tasting, you can choose up to 6 wines that are paired with little nougat that complement the flavors of the wines. If the weather is nice, I’d definitely recommend sitting outside for the tasting, the terrace is beautiful and perfect to sip on some bubbles with the sun peeking through the old trees.
Villera Wines also prides themselves on their sustainable practices including sustainable farming initiatives, solar power, giving back, education, and wildlife conservation. I’m always excited to hear about new sustainability initiatives and was very happy learning how many initiatives Villera implements!
If you’re looking to make your experience at Villera Wines even more exciting, check out a guided trail ride through a game reserve and through the vineyards behind the winery! Horse Rides at Pete’s was one of my favorite things to experience. The ride was a 3 hour tour, offered on Boerperd horses (a domestic horse breed native to South Africa). You’ll ride through a game reserve looking for giraffe, zebra, kudu, and a variety of other wildlife that calls the preserve home. There are two guides on each trip, and is open to all levels of riders. You’ll leave the game reserve and head to ride through the vineyards, and if you’re an experienced rider, may have the opportunity to canter!
You’ll end your ride at the back of Villera Wineries, and enjoy your wine tasting while the horses get to relax in the shade. Once your tasting is done, you’ll take a short walk back to the paddock and say goodbye to your trusty new friend. This was by far my favorite vineyard experience in South Africa, and one I would highly recommend!
Vergenoegd Löw is an extremely popular vineyard to visit because of something called the duck run! Not only is the wine tasting delicious, you can wander the grounds waiting for the famous Indian Runner Ducks to come back into the main area from the vineyard! This vineyard uses the ducks as a natural pest control and fertilizer! The ducks are released into the vineyards in the morning, and return later on to get some more food and see us happy vineyard goers!
Once the ducks have settled into their paddock, you can grab a little bag of food and feed the ducks! It’s definitely worth staying around after your tasting to enjoy the ducks, it truly makes this vineyard unique. And on top of that, this vineyard has received the Conservation Champion recognition from the World Wildlife Foundation (South Africa chapter).
Aside from tastings, the vineyard offers picnics, an on site restaurant, and even an event space that would be beautiful for a destination wedding!
The oldest wine estate in Stellenbosch, the Blaauwklippen Estate is perfect for visiting on a Sunday, as they hold their weekly Sunday Market. With a heavy emphasis on sustainable, local, and organic food, arts, wines, and crafts, the market is a great way to spend a Sunday. Browse the variety of stalls available, grab some freshly made biltong (South African jerky), a glass of wine, and find a comfortable place to sit in the grass. It’s easily an all day affair, as the market runs from 10 AM to 3 PM, but you can also just spend a little bit of time exploring if you had other vineyards or plans for the day.
If you visit the estate on any other day than Sunday, they offer wine tastings, gin tastings, parings, as well as a farm to table restaurant, deli, and beautiful grounds to explore. The Estate also offers the Manor, perfect if you want to stay on Stellenbosch’s oldest wine estate! You can book your stay here!
The Best Vineyards in Franschoek:
Franschoek, a little further away from Cape Town proper, and a little more rural, offers a few unique ways to experience the best South African vineyards without having to drive between them. Hop aboard the Franschoek Wine Tram offers a hop-on-hop-off option, with 4 different routes bringing you to various vineyards. If I go back, I definitely want to try the tram! The tram also offers curated experiences if you’re looking for something more structured.
Another way to see the vineyards in Franschoek (and the way I got to experience it) is by hiring a tuktuk to take you to 3 vineyards for tastings. This tuktuk experience was lots of fun, and seated 4 per tuktuk. Since we had 8 in the group, we hired two, but they brought us to some stunning vineyards, and we got a more private experience than the tram would’ve been.
Overlooking a beautiful mountainscape, Mont Rochelle is a stunning property for a wine tasting, and was stop number 1 on our tuktuk tour. The vineyard offers a tasting with award winning wines, and beautiful outdoor seating. The white building stands out when you arrive, and the property even offers a manor house, accommodations, a restaurant, spa, and 100 acres of vineyard that you can explore.
The wine tasting include a variety of award winning wines to try, but aren’t paired as some of the other vineyards are. They do offer tastings at a few locations on property, we experienced our tasting at The Country Kitchen, which was beautiful on the sunny day we were there! The vineyard implements sustainable practices, and also encourages travelers to pack school supplies, medical supplies, or non perishable food to donate to an organization called FRANCO which supports students in need!
La Bri Vineyard
Stop two on our tuktuk ride was to La Bri Vineyard, which offered an amazing wine paring with their tasting, and a variety of six wines to try. From pairings with chocolate to biltong, in an unsuspecting setting, this estate doesn’t boast the grandiose appearance that some do, rather, is humble and romantic in its setting but offers an amazing wine pairing.
The grounds of La Bri Estate are stunning, and make you feel like you’re stepping back in time. When you walk up, you may see the sunlight dancing on the white walls through the trees, as you’re brought up to a bright upstairs table. The wine pairings are exquisite, and I’d definitely recommend trying both pairings, if you are given the opportunity!
Grande Provence at Heritage Wine Estate
Last but absolutely not least is the Grand Provence Estate. This wine estate is covered in stunning artwork, sculptures, and has beautifully crafted grounds to explore. As stop number 3 on the tuktuk tour, we ended up staying here the longest, since we weren’t in a hurry to make it to the next vineyard. The vineyard offers a variety of tastings to enjoy, and even offers cellar tours and blendings. We each opted for the tasting that sounded like it would suit our tastebuds the best, and the wine was delicious.
While the wine tastings aren’t paired, there’s plenty of opportunity to order food and relax after the tasting. We sat and enjoyed the property and artwork until the tuktuk driver told us our time was up. The property offers accommodations, a restaurant, deli, suites, a wine shop, and even an art gallery. They even have a private cottage that is popular for honeymoons! This is a show stopping vineyard, that definitely exudes elegance and is one you don’t want to miss when you’re visiting the best vineyards in South Africa!
I can’t wait to go back to visit South Africa and explore the Winelands again and to expand the best vineyards in South Africa to visit! Have you ever been to South Africa? What are your favorite vineyards? Comment below I’d love to chat!