The Cape Winelands
So you're planning a trip to the Western Cape and want to explore the Cape Winelands, but with all the vast wine-producing regions where do you start, and what wine growing regions suit your individual style and wine preferences. Let's take a deep look through the Cape Winelands, their deserve terroir and what makes them each unique.
Time to unlock the Cape Winelands magic...
Cool Climate Coastal region
Best known for producing Natural Sweet, Sauvignon Blanc, Cape Bordeaux blends, Merlot and Shiraz
The soils of Constantia originated from 200 million year old granite, with Table Mountain sandstone higher up against the slopes. The well-drained decomposed granite with high clay content ensures good water retention. The majority of the route consists of Hutton, Avalon, Oakleaf, Tukulu and Glenrosa soil types.
The average age of the vines in Constantia range between six and fifty years. Vineyards are planted at altitudes between 55 and 420 meters above sea level.
The Constantia Wine Route is the most spectacular wine experience in the world, offering a unique blend of centuries-old established wine homesteads and new, stylish boutique wineries in a setting of unsurpassed beauty and heritage.
Constantia is the oldest wine region in Southern Africa. The first Governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel, researched the soils and climate and determined that the region had the best climate to plant vines – the first were planted here in 1685.
Constantia wines, grown on the slopes of Table Mountain, have been world-famous ever since – Napoleon Bonaparte, on his deathbed, requested the sweet wines of Constantia.
Constantia’s magnificent mountain countryside produces a wide range of iconic, premium wines of world-class quality, and is only 20 minutes from Cape Town city centre. Visit this beautiful, lush suburban area with incredible green belts and direct access to Table Mountain.
The Wine foxes favourite Constantia wines
Klein Constantia Vin Constance natural sweet
Klein Constantia Block 382
Steenberg The Black Swan Sauvignon Blanc
Constantia Glen Five Cape Bordeaux
Eagles Nest Shiraz
Eagles Nest Merlot
Book your choice of our two Constantia wine tours:
Warm Climate Coastal region (slightly warmer than Bordeaux)
Best known for producing red wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinotage and Shiraz also Produces some exquisite Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc and Methode Cap Classique.
When one thinks of Stellenbosch, many pictures emerge... beautiful landscapes, historic buildings, oak-lined streets and, of course, wine. Stellenbosch is the second oldest town in South Africa and is widely regarded as the wine capital of our nation.
Stellenbosch was the first region to establish a formal route among South African wineries, a route which has gone on to become one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations - a picturesque journey that will make you long for wine and adventures.
150 wine farms decorate the vine-swept landscape, many of them historical farms with achingly beautiful Cape Dutch manor houses, gardens, hotels and fine-dining restaurants.
The historical town of Stellenbosch, which features some of the finest examples of Cape Dutch architecture, boasts a winemaking tradition which stretches back to the end of the 17th-century. The mountainous terrain, good rainfall, deep well-drained soils and diversity of terroirs make this a sought-after viticultural area. The rapidly increasing number of wine estates and producers (more than 200) includes some of the most famous names in Cape wine. The district, with its mix of historic estates and contemporary wineries, produces excellent examples of almost all the noble grape varieties and is known for the quality of its blended reds.
Stellenbosch, the 'town of oaks', is also the educational and research centre of the Winelands. Stellenbosch University is the only university in South Africa which offers a degree in viticulture and oenology, and it has many of the country’s most successful winemakers as alumni. The Elsenburg School of Agriculture is also near Stellenbosch, as is the Nietvoorbij Institute of Viticulture and Oenology. This organisation has one of the most modern experimental wineries in the world and, at its experimental farms (situated in several winegrowing districts), important research into new varietals, clones and rootstocks is undertaken.
*Stellenbosch Wine Route, the oldest in the country and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Western Cape, has created five manageable sub-routes for tourists: Bottelary Hills, Greater Simonsberg, Helderberg, Stellenbosch Berg and Stellenbosch Valley.
Recommended Producers: Villiera, Raats Family Wines, Kanonkop, Warwick, Ernie Els, Haskell, Muratie, De Morgenzon, Jordan, Uva Mira, Tokara, Oldenburg, Beyerskloof, Keermont, Kleine Zalze, Journey's End, Leeuwenkuil Family Vineyards
Book your choice of our two Stellenbosch wine tours:
Best Known for producing outstanding Shiraz, Pinotage, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Viognier and Mourvedre
From a distance, you see the Afrikaans Language Monument on top of a glistening granite outcrop from which this historic town, the third oldest in South Africa, gets its name (meaning "pearl").
The Paarl Wine Route, renowned for its rich, full-bodied, spicy red wines and crisp white wines, is the second-oldest wine route in the country.
Paarl has played an important role in the establishment of the wine industry with the establishment of KWV, the first commercial wine cellar, dating back to 1918, and the introduction of cold fermentation to promote wine quality in 1937 by the then owner of Nederburg, Johann Georg Graue (a viticulturist, brewer and tea specialist). In 1975 the Nederburg Auction of Rare Cape Wines came about when Günter Brözel introduced noble late harvest wines. His legendary dessert wine, Edelkeur, is still offered exclusively at this annual auction.
More recently, Paarl also made headlines with the first bottling of Viognier, a Bordeaux blend and Nouvelle in South Africa. On the international front, Paarl is home to the first white Pinotage, Pinotage-fortified dessert wine and the first wine blend of Tempranillo, Tannat and tinta Amarella.
The majority of the vineyards can be found on the northern side of the Simonsberg Mountain, in the Berg River Valley or on Paarl Mountain, also known as Paarl Rock.
Anura, Babylonstoren, Glen Carlou, Noble Hill, Painted Wolves, Vilafonté, Ridgeback, Laborie estate and Fairview
Book your Paarl wine tour:
Best known for their Methode Cap Classique, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon and Chenin Blanc, to the full-bodied reds of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Merlot.
known as the French Corner. Franschhoek's, breathtaking scenery, warm hospitality, world-class cuisine and the finest wines all combine to create lasting memories. The district of Franschhoek has retained its distinct French Huguenot character. Regarded as the 'culinary capital' of the Cape, Franschhoek is a member of The Délice Network of Good Food Cities of the World.
The valley was originally settled in 1688 by French Huguenot refugees, who brought with them their age-old wine and food culture. There are a variety of cellars, from small boutique wineries that cater to those in search of something unique, to large cellars that offer organised tours and conducted tastings.
Franschhoek has long boasted a disproportionate number of South Africa’s top restaurants. Leading chefs create everything from cutting-edge cuisine to stylish light meals using the freshest produce of the valley, paired with magnificent local wines.
Franschhoek offers a wide range of accommodation, from luxury hotels to country auberges and intimate B&Bs. For the business traveller, there are conference facilities aplenty.
With numerous romantic venues from which to choose, Franschhoek is also a wonderful place to get married. A host of shops and galleries line the Main Street, providing a wonderful choice of boutique fashion and jewellery studios, world-class collections of artwork and photography, speciality delis and produce, and interesting bric-a-brac to browse.
Black Elephant Vinters, La Motte, La Chataigne, Le Lude, Glenwood, Colmant, Pasarene, Plasir De Merle, Boekenhoutskloof
Elgin (The Wine Foxes favourite South Africa wine-growing region)
Best known for producing South Africas top Chardonnay's which are graining worldwide fame.
Only an hour east of Cape Town, the high-lying cool-climate Elgin district, cradled in the ancient sandstone Hottentots Holland mountains, was traditionally an apple-growing region. Now award-winning wine showing exceptional fruit and elegance are produced here, with Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Shiraz doing particularly well in this later-ripening, cooler terroir.
The wine route offers scenic drives through Elgin’s picturesque Overberg valley. Expect a warm embrace from this friendly community where you can enjoy intimate wine tastings whilst taking in spectacular vistas over vineyards and valleys.
Every wine farm in the Elgin Valley is family-owned. Visitors are often treated to wine tastings conducted by the owner or winemaker themselves making this wine route a true gem.
Book Elgin wine tour