Lush vineyards, stunning mountain scenery, world-class cuisine and beautiful Cape Dutch architecture, make the Cape Winelands one of South Africa’s premier travel destinations. Nestled among rolling green hills, endless rows of vines and peaceful lakes, this is a wonderful place to take a wine tour, enjoy gourmet dining and relax into the laid-back vibe.
Leaving behind the hustle and bustle of Cape Town and driving a couple of hours east, brings you to the beautiful broad valleys of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl, an area known as ‘The Winelands.’ This is South Africa’s largest wine producing region, where you can enjoy some of the world’s finest wines and cuisine, while enjoying the stunning mountain scenery and Cape Dutch architecture.
The wine industry was first developed by French Huguenots who settled in Franschhoek, in the 17th century, bringing their wines with them, producing the first wine in 1659. In the centuries that followed, the reputation of South African wine spread across the globe to the point where Napoleon had wine from this region, shipped to him during his exile in the 19th century. As the oldest of the ‘new world’ wine producers, South Africa’s wine industry has been described as a bridge between the old and the new and you will enjoy a warm welcome from the wineries, who all offer free tastings and tours.
At the heart of the wine country, lies Stellenbosch, South Africa’s second oldest settlement. A university town, with a buzzing atmosphere, wonderful examples of Cape Dutch architecture, tree-lined streets and the country’s oldest wine route, Stellenbosch has much to offer. Take a wine tour, visit a local art museum, or we can arrange a wine and chocolate safari of the Waterford Wine Estate. This is a real treat, where a guide will take you on a tour of the vineyards, explain how the wine is cultivated and finishing back at the winery for wine and chocolate tasting.
For foodies, we’d recommend a trip to Franschhoek, known as the food and wine capital of South Africa. With world-renowned restaurants and wine estates, we think the best way to see this charming town is to take the hop-on hop-off Franschhoek Wine Tram. The legacy of the Huguenots lives on here in the French names of the vineyards and Bastille Day is also celebrated.
Paarl is a small scenic town and the third oldest in South Africa. Famed for its Cape Dutch architecture, although the town is small, it has some of the finest wineries found in the Western Cape. Even if you are not a wine expert, we think The Winelands is a lovely region to explore. Tour the vineyards, enjoy a wonderful lunch on one of the estates, or take a picnic to eat on the banks of the many beautiful lakes and streams.