As well as having an abundance of mountains and beaches to explore, the country ofSouth Africa has something else up its sleeve to wow admirers; its vineyards. With over 100,000 hectares of vineyards, South Africa is the world’s ninth largest producer of wine. Known as the ‘Winelands’, a winery crawl of is a tourist must. We pick 5 of the country’s vineyards for a whistle-whetting introduction to South Africa wines.
Muratie Wine Estate
A Stellenbosch farm dating back to 1685, the stunning Muratie Wine Estate is historically famous for being the first producer of Pinot Noir as well as fantastic port. Customers are able to not only buy the iconic wines produced here but to have a tasting session or a chocolate pairing. If you aren’t full enough from that, you can have a hearty and mouth-watering meal from the farm kitchen served, of course, with more of the fantastic wine. Not a place of secrets, the knowledgeable staff at Muratie are happy to answer any questions about their particular way of winemaking. And if you really want to get stuck in, there is a guest cottage available for booking.
Wines to try out: George Paul Canitz (Pinot Noir)
Knorhoek Road/R44, Koelenhof, Stellenbosch, South Africa +27 (0) 21 865 2330/6
Groot Constantia Estate
Granted to Simon van der Stel in the late 1600s, Groot Constantia is one of the oldest vineyards in the Cape and is perfect for those who like the classic experience. Now run as a section 21 Company by the government, this vineyard is most famous for the production of sweet wines and has had patrons such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Queen Victoria, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen. Current patrons can experience the same excellent wine and a cellar tour at the wonderfully reasonable price of R50pp. For the chocolate lovers there is also the option of experiencing a chocolate and wine pairing.
Wines to try out: Grand Constance (Muscat)
Groot Constantia Road, Constantia, Cape Town Central, South Africa +27 (0) 21 794 5128
This estate not only has sublime wines to explore but a stunning Cape Dutch homestead complete with meandering gardens, too. The really special aspect of this vineyard, as well as its award winning wines, is its camphor and yellow wood forest, home to the Cape’s oldest oak and camphor trees. Guests can book a picnic in the forest – possibly the fanciest picnic you’ll ever experienced with waiter attended tables, premade picnic baskets and drink top ups. If a picnic isn’t what you are after, why not enjoy a bistro style meal accompanied by the estate’s fine wines and gorgeous mountain views at the Stables restaurant. With wines that are truly a unique blend of classic and modern processes, you will soon understand why Vergelegen walks off with all the prizes.
Wines to try out: Vergelegen V 2011 (Cabernet Sauvignon)
Lourensford St, Somerset West, Cape Town, South Africa +27 (0) 21 847 1334
Vrede en Lust Estate
Vrede en Lust, or ‘peace and eagerness’ in Dutch, has really thrown open its doors to become one of the best loved vineyards in South Africa, offering small intimate tours of their cellars and fabulous wine tasting experiences. For food enthusiasts there are a number of food and wine pairings and the Lust bistro and bakery offers breakfast, lunch and lighter bites – all fresh from the ovens. Believing in the natural touch, 2007 winemaker of the year, Susan Erasmus, talks about the signature way in which the cooler climate affects their crops and other insider information on what makes the wine here so special.
Wines to try out: Barrique 2012 (Sauvignon Blanc)
Intersection R45 & Klapmuts Rd, Simondium, Western Cape, South Africa +27 (0) 21 874 1611
Cape Point Vineyards Estate
With a banquet hall and tasting room that have panoramic views of mountains, ocean sunsets and vineyards, this unique Noordhoek estate is the only winery that is situated in the Cape peninsular region. The Atlantic Ocean air is ideal for the unique cultivation of the estate’s famous Sauvignon Blanc wines. A favourite with many local people for its thriving community market, Cape Point Vineyards offers the perfect setting for food and wine as guests enjoy relaxed, pre-prepared picnics. The estate, which is relatively new to the Cape wine route, is a mere 33km from Cape Town city centre.
Wines to try out: Cape Point Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2014
Silvermine Rd, Noordhoek, Cape Town, South Africa +27 (0) 21 789 0900
By Seanagh Palmer-Pilgrim