As “New World” wines continue to soar in popularity, those coming from South Africa remain at the forefront of people’s minds when choosing a new tipple.
The beauty of South Africa’s wine regions is that they are so easily accessible, offer a fantastic choice of accommodation either on the wine farms or close by and are all run by friendly owners who can’t wait to open their doors to visitors from all over the world. You can enjoy wine tastings with owners and wine makers, walks around the farms and some fantastic small restaurants catering only to day visitors. Whether you are a true connoisseur, budding enthusiast or simply enjoy a good glass of wine, you can be assured a superb experience when you visit any of South Africa’s wineries.
We would like to introduce you to some of our favourite areas, including some of the up and coming regions on top of the traditional favourites.
Traditionally, the wine areas of South Africa are found in the temperate regions of the Western Cape, not far from Cape Town. Fertile soil, the warm climate and reliable rainfall patterns make the region ideally suited to both whites and reds. The growth of the South African wine industry was triggered by the arrival of the French Huguenots in the 1670s who brought with them all they had learnt in the famous vineyards of France. This legacy is still evident today, with Franschhoek (translating as French corner), as well as nearby Stellenbosch and Paarl being the areas considered as the heartland of the South African wine industry. Vineyards are found up and down the hillsides on the outskirts of these 3 towns, with many of them boasting accommodation ranging from basic self catering options to some of the most opulent hotels in the world. One of these hotels is La Residence, on the outskirts of Franschhoek and a truly wonderful place to stay. They have their own vineyards and serve their delicious wines in the restaurant to accompany their lovingly prepared dinners. Wineries in this region can easily be visited by simply turning up and asking to taste the wines, however, we would always suggest taking a tour with a local guide. This allows you to learn more about the fascinating history of the region, visit some of the less crowded wineries and of course this means that you don’t have to drive. If you are looking for an alternative way to see the region, then the Franschhoek Wine Tram is a wonderful way to tour around, visiting beautiful wineries such as Mont Rochelle. You are also able to partake in wine tasting by horseback, learn about wine and food pairings and a new favourite, wine and chocolate pairings. Each September the town hosts the Franschhoek Uncorked Festival, a celebration of the wine and food that make this little village so well know. Whilst Franschhoek is the leading light of the region, Stellenbosch and Paarl should not be discounted either as they are both wonderful towns in their own right. Stellenbosch is particularly fun as the large student population makes it one of the most vibrant towns in the region.
Closer to Cape Town, framed by the backdrop of Table Mountain you will find the vineyards and wineries of the Constantia Valley. The area is characterised by old Cape Dutch homesteads, sprawling wine farms and some excellent restaurants. Chief among them is Steenberg, which boasts the iconic Katarina’s Restaurant where guests can enjoy some of the estates finest wines, including the iconic 2012 Black Swan Sauvignon Blanc or 2011 Steenberg Merlot. Klein Constantia is also a very popular winery to visit, especially in the Autumn months when the golden sunlight ensures the backdrop of Table Mountain is even more beautiful than usual. The area is perfect for a day visit from Cape Town, as you can enjoy touring the wineries before spending an evening in the beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Indeed, if you are visiting in the Festive Season, why not pick up a bottle of your favourite wine and enjoy the “Carols in Kirstenbosch” a beautiful location to enjoy all of your favourite Christmas Carols.
These regions have been popular and well known for some time, however, it is further to the South-East, on the outskirts of the coastal town of Hermanus where the real excitement is brewing (or should we say fermenting). This holiday town, best known for it’s whale sightings is now the starting point for the Hemel-en-Aarde wine route, whose wineries are receiving rave reviews from both locals and overseas buyers. The 6.7 kilometre stretch of coastline is home to some superb wineries, including the renowned Bouchard Finlayson, who are selling their produce to a number of South Africa’s top hotels. A tour of the route is a great accompliment when staying in Hermanus, especially out of whale watching season (December to June) and the fact it is still a hidden gem means you don’t get anything like the visitor numbers that you do in larger areas. A stay at Birkenhead House, means that you will be able to enjoy an exclusive tour of the Hemel-en-Aarde and learn just why this is becoming the place to come to visit wineries in South Africa.
If you are interested in visiting the Cape's wine regions on you next holiday to South Africa then get in touch was us on 020 7843 3500. We can design itineraries incorporating stays in one or more of these wonderful wine regions, organise private guided tours of some of the most exclusive wineries or simply recommend some that you may wish to visit. With the abundance of fantastic restaurants in these areas as well, you will be assured of a wonderful stay in one of the most beautiful corners of South Africa.
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