As we discussed in a previous post, South Africa is one of the countries that produces ‘New World’ wines — contrasted with the ‘Old World’ wines that come from European countries. Just a short one hour drive some Cape Town are the Cape Winelands of South Africa and the historic towns that surround the vineyards. You can easily spend a full day visiting the different vineyards, and if you have enough time on your trip you can even extend your stay in the region.
If you’re not comfortable driving on the left side of the road (we’re not — did it once, not a fan), there are multiple tour companies that offer day trips to the winelands from Cape Town. This option, of course, has the added benefit of an included designated driver — not to mention the more informative aspects of taking a tour.
On our visit, we took a guided, small group tour that took us to four different vineyards within the Paarl and Stellenbosch regions. Overall, we found that the vineyards offered very generous pours — even during lunch our glasses were filled completely. Just a helpful note in terms of pacing yourself.
One tip to keep in mind is that we recommend bringing some high quality dark chocolate with you to the wine tours to complement the wines (or your tour guide may bring some as well). Besides that, it’s just nice to have chocolate to snack on throughout the day.
One of the more interesting facts that we learned on our tour was about the Pinotage grape — a wine grape that is unique to South Africa. It was bred in Stellenbosch by Abraham Izak Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture at Stellenbosch University, in 1925 as a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. As a result, Pinotage is sometimes called Perold’s Hermitage x Pinot.
The first wine region we visited on our tour was Paarl, the third oldest settlement in South Africa founded in 1687. There we visited two vineyards: Fairview Wine and Cheese Farm and Backsberg Estate Cellars.
- Fairview Wine and Cheese Farm was founded in 1693 and is one of the most visited attractions in the Cape winelands, offering a full range of wines and cheeses in their tasting room. Be on the lookout for the goat tower on the property. Fairview has more than 750 Saanen goats on their farm and their milk is used to produce Fairview’s cheeses.
- Backsberg Estate Cellars: in addition to wine, Backsberg also has its own distillery that produces brandy. They also produce a sparkling brut MCC wine.
The second wine region we visited on our tour was Stellenbosch, the wine region closest to the city of Cape Town. While there are plenty of vineyards to choose from in the region, the two that we visited and highly recommend are:
- Muratie Wine Farm: Wine tastings are held in the cellar, which is both charming and full of historical artifacts with stories to tell.
- Anura Vineyards: Also serves food and has a nice outdoor seating area to enjoy a glass of wine and/or lunch when the weather is nice
Have you visited the Cape Winelands in South Africa? What were your favorite vineyards and regions?