Cape Town, South Africa’s beautiful port city, has loads to offer. But vino lover or not, one of the absolute must-dos is taking a trip to the Stellenbosch wineries.
While there are many estates scattered around South Africa, none of them can compare to the overall experience that the valleys of Stellenbosch can offer. Great, inexpensive wine, opportunities to learn more about grape culivation and, some of the most spectacular scenery you will ever see in South Africa – what are you waiting for?
Expansive green spaces and a beautiful veranda lead up into the Warwick Estate, which has been owned and operated since the 1960s by the Ratcliffe family. As with much of Stellenbosch, the area surrounding the vineyard is nothing short of dramatic, with jagged peaks reaching for the sky and rolling hills stretching into the distance.
Focused on red wines, the estate is particularly well known for their Trilogy and Three Ladies blends. And on top of the pleasantly spacious room for wine tasting, there are numerous quaint picnic areas that allow guests to enjoy the provided picnic baskets in the midst of citrus groves, fountains, and vineyards. You’d be hard pressed to find a nicer winery than Warwick Estate in the region.
Another family-owned vineyard, since the 1970s, is De Trafford on a farm called Mont Fleur. The winery itself is situated high above the valley overlooking the Hedelberg mountains, sporting some of the most spectacular vistas in all of Stellenbosch.
Both David and Rita are famed in the southern part of Africa for consistently producing some of the most intense and rich tasting wines. There’s a relatively small number of cases produced on a yearly basis, making the wines – both red and white, especially the Chenin Blanc -even more sought after. The Elevation blend is also hugely popular.
The long driveway to Beyerskloof Estate offers sweeping views of the surrounding granite and sandstone hills. Start your visit with breakfast or lunch at the on-site Red Leaf Bistro, which has a gorgeous veranda overlooking the vineyards. The tasting room is also wonderfully furnished; its antique look and feel make it a hit with the Cape Town folks.
Tasting usually begins with, and focuses on, Pinotage (a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut) for which the Estate claims they are the leaders at producing in South Africa. Indeed, the vintage Pinotage is remarkable with an infusion of blueberry and its finely oaked nature. The Chenin Blanc is memorable, along with their locally produced “Faith Cape Diesel”.
Having prospered since the 17th century, Rust en Vrede is probably the oldest winery in Stellenbosch. Now at the forefront of red wine production in South Africa, the Engelbert family offers a range of new world styles, with the stand out being a magnificent estate blend of Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon .
Surrounded by overgrown trees that give it a slightly more homely feel than other wineries, Rust en Vrede still retains the open spaces and stunning views. Our favourite thing here, however, has to be the delectable nibbles – like falafel, pumpkin fritters, and croque monsieur – provided during the wine tasting sessions.
In the early 1970s, a number of South Africans traveled home to South Africa from Europe, bringing with them a number of oak barrels containing French wine. It was then, the Stellenbosch wine route was established by Frans Malan (and a number of others) and it was here, at Simonsig, where he would continue to cultivate the grape.
For this reason, the Simonsig estate is of great importance and the wines are also (rightly) world class. Try the sparkling wine “Kaapse Vonkel” which is bears much similarity to champagne. Being a pioneer in Stellenbosch, the folks at Simonsig offer a wonderful wine tour in the cellar, explaining process of winemaking, from grape to delicious wine.
So what are your favourite Stellenbosch wineries? Where would you recommend?