No trip to the beautiful Cape is complete without sampling the country’s much loved New World wines. A tasting tour through the Winelands is not just about the wine, as, with estates steeped in history and wineries featuring fantastic collections of art, you will be introduced to the cultural and historical significance of the sun-drenched region. With 18 official wine routes and two brandy route, you have so much choice in The Cape Winelands but we recommend starting your tour through some of the world's most scenic regions with South Africa's oldest vineyard:
The area: In 1659, the first vine cuttings were planted in Constantia, now a suburb of Cape Town, by settlers of the Dutch East India Company. Gaining world-wide recognition in the the late 18th century, the area’s sweet wine, Grand Constance, was cellared by Naparte during his exile, written about in Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austin, and drunk every evening after dinner by Queen Victoria.
The estate: The oldest wine estate in the country, Groot Constantia, is definitely worth a visit for its splendid high-quality red wines. Groot Constantia is a great place to start on your wine tour because they still honour the heritage and history of the farm, not only by preserving the original buildings and cellars but by making wine traditionally by extracting the juice from the grapes in barrels, rather than in large stainless-steel mechanical structures. Having revived the Grand Constance in 2003, try the sweet wine with nuances of pears, rose petals and apricots, and note the intense liquid amber colour, created by the mix of both white and red Muscat de Frontignan. Supporting the local artists, there is a permanent art exhibition, so make sure to meander from painting to painting in the tasting halls to get a true sense of Constantia’s vibrant culture.
We recommend staying at: The Twelve Apostles.
The area: Stellenbosch was founded in 1679, making it the second oldest town in South Africa. The oak tree lined town, situated on the banks of the Eerste River, has some fine examples of classic Cape Dutch-style buildings that are nestled in expansive vineyards with picturesque mountain backdrops.
The estate: The well-established and award-winning estate, Kanonkop, is located just outside of Stellenbosch’s centre. Renowned for its red wines, half of its 100 hectares are planted with the Pinotage grape. With multiple gold accolades from the International Wine and Spirit Competition, Kanonkop produces a particularly excellent bottle of Cabernet blend, and with a very complex bouquet, with blackcurrant, walnut, mocha and spicy flavours, we recommend the Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2009 Cabernet Blend. Kanonkop has also opened an art gallery inside one of their oak maturation cellars, where you can view a comprehensive collection of beautiful bronze sculptures, emotive paintings, and contemporary ceramics.
We recommend staying at: Majeka House.
The area: Considered the gourmet capital of the country, Franschhoek is a small town set between towering mountains in the Cape Winelands valley. Where top chefs and acclaimed wine-makers congregate, Franschhoek is home to breathtaking beauty, warm hospitality, and heavenly wine.
The estate: Transforming the bucolic valley with it’s new generation winemaking, Chamonix is an estate known for its exceptional wooded Chardonnays, with delicious hints of caramel, nutmeg and oatmeal. Take the narrow road up into the mountains to Chamonix’s cellar, where wine tastings are carried out at the Blacksmith’s Cottage, a converted blacksmiths built in the 18th century.
We recommend staying at: Mont Rochelle.