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If the idea of a crisp glass of Chardonnay on a warm, summer’s day sounds like a great idea, then a trip to the Cape Winelands is an absolute must. The Western Cape is South Africa’s main wine-producing region and is conveniently located just a stone’s throw away from the center of Cape Town. Whether you head east, west or south in the Mother City, you’re bound to come across lush, green vineyards surrounded by majestic mountain ranges. Dating back 350 years, the Cape Winelands are divided into six regions encompassing 26 districts, but the most well-known areas are Constantia, Stellenbosch, Durbanville, Paarl and Franschhoek. Here’s a guide to these districts.
Stellenbosch is one of the most popular tourist destinations for wine tasting in the Western Cape. Steeped in history, the district features some of the best examples of Dutch architecture and is home to around 150 wine estates and producers. Stellenbosch is known for the quality of its blended reds and produces wines from almost all the grape varieties. Due to the vastness of the district, the Stellenbosch wine route has been divided into five sub-routes, namely Bottelary Hills, Greater Simonsberg, Helderberg, Stellenbosch Berg and Stellenbosch Valley. Take advantage of the many scenic tours on offer and enjoy some of the best wines in the country.
The Constantia wine valley is situated on the green slopes of the Constantiaberg mountain range and is a mere 15-minute drive from the center of Cape Town. Dating back to 1685, Constantia is the oldest wine region in South Africa boasting eight award-winning wine estates and boutique wineries. The area’s climate favors the production of white wines, notably Sauvignon Blanc, and is renowned for its sweet wines that first won acclaim in the 17th century. Be sure to visit Groot Constantia, the very first South African wine farm, and indulge in wine tasting and gourmet food al fresco at one of the many on-site restaurants.
Nestled between majestic mountain ranges, this picturesque town is home to a variety of 300-year-old wine estates and contemporary boutique wineries – many have their own superb restaurants on-site too. It all started 300 years ago when the French Huguenots arrived in South Africa, bringing with them their age-old wine and food culture. Today Franschhoek is known as the gourmet capital of South Africa, boasting several award-winning restaurants and wine estates. Franschhoek’s vineyards produce all the classic varieties as well as many unique blends. Visit this magnificent town and enjoy luscious wines paired with world-class cuisine amid breathtaking scenery.
The Paarl wine route is the second oldest in the country and is known for its signature cultivar, Shiraz, although their red and white blends are also highly regarded. An easy 40-minute drive from Cape Town, the Paarl Wine Route consists of 70 wine producers ranging from historic family-owned estates to larger cellars. Apart from its wineries, Paarl is also known for its craft breweries, brandy cellars, artisanal cheeses as well as olive and olive oil producers. Like Franschhoek, Paarl is bordered by scenic mountain ranges and is the perfect location to enjoy cheese and wine underneath tall oak trees.
Nestled among the Tygerberg Hills, just a 20-minute drive from Cape Town, lies the Durbanville wine valley. The region consists of 12 wine estates each complemented by some of the best fine dining restaurants in Cape Town. Durbanville’s signature cultivar is Sauvignon Blanc followed by Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Chardonnay. During the summertime, the region hosts several wine festivals where you can enjoy premium wines and delicious cuisine with family and friends.