Some of the best wines in the world come from South Africa. With plenty of cheap, arable land available, wine enthusiasts from all over the world open their own vineyards in the fertile African soil, experimenting with various methods of grapevine cultivation, extraction, and fermentation. This guide highlights some of the top wine tours in South Africa.
When & Where To Go Wine Tasting In South Africa
The Winelands in South Africa are primarily in the Western Cape, encompassing the region surrounding Cape Town. There are three main areas where most of the vineyards are concentrated, namely Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Constantia. Each place has unique features and strengths, and it's worth visiting them all as they are relatively close to one another. There are several smaller wine-rich areas between the main spots that are perfect for visitors who prefer authenticity over tourist comforts.
- By order of proximity to Cape Town, Constantia is the closest, followed by Stellenbosch, and finally, Franschhoek, which is about an hour away
Wine tourism is all about timing. The best time of the year to go is in the fall, between February and May, ideally sometime in March. The summer months, around December, are hot and dry, while the winter months, beginning in June, are wet and cold. Autumn is when the vineyards are at their most beautiful and also when the grapes are harvested, so visitors will have the opportunity to see the most exciting aspects of viticulture.
Wine Tourism In Stellenbosch
Stellenbosch Valley is situated along the Eerste River at the foot of Stellenbosch Mountain. It is arguably the most famous wine-producing region in Southern Africa. Before vineyards, the town was known for its oak trees. The centuries-old Oak trees line the old French houses and streets of the city, imbibing them with rich, oaky scents and regal aesthetics.
- Stellenbosch is about 25 miles (40 km) from Cape Town
In the late 1600s, the area was settled by Huguenot refugees from southern France, many of whom came from wine-producing regions. They brought their talents for viticulture with them, and being protestants, they were quickly assimilated with the Dutch settlers.
The most popular wine grown in Stellenbosch is Cabernet Sauvignon. It is often blended with Merlot to create Bordeaux wines.
The following vineyards are insider recommendations for wine tasting in Stellenbosch.
Muratie Wine Estate
- Address: Knorhoek Rd, Koelenhof, Stellenbosch, 7605, South Africa
Muratie is a historic family-owned wine estate in northern Stellenbosch. It was founded in 1685 and has since developed into a world-renowned producer of wine. The estate is a great place to spend an afternoon while tasting some of the best wines in South Africa.
For enthusiasts who want to lounge in the foggy valley with a glass of wine in hand at all times, Muratie also offers accommodation in one of its vintage cottages.
Warrick Wine Estate
- Address: R44, Stellenbosch, 7607, South Africa
The Warrick estate is a unique place. In addition to offering wine tastings amidst the divine scenery, the farm provides Wine Safaris. The safaris take up to six visitors on an open-top drive through the five vineyards, each of which grows different types of grapes.
Wine Tourism In Franschhoek
In addition to being one of the oldest cities, Franschhoek is the culinary capital of South Africa. The Afrikaans name translates to "French Corner", describing the high concentration of French Huguenot settlers. It is known for its Cape Dutch architecture and cool, misty atmosphere - perfect for cultivating wine.
- Franschhoek is around 56 miles (90km) away from Cape Town
The Franschhoek Winetram
The most interesting feature in Franschhoek is the Winetram. The railway tracks were laid in 1904, and today serve an extensive network of wine estates. With eight separate lines, each with a considerable number of stops, there is no better way to see the wine country than on a Franschhoek Winetream.
- Address: Corner of Main Road and, Cabriere St, Franschhoek, 7690, South Africa
Passengers can choose the hop-on-hop-off tickets that allow them to get on and off as they please, a perfect option for casual wine tourists who want to take their sweet time soaking it all in.
Wine Tourism In Constantia
Constantia is a suburb in Cape Town. For tourists in the metropolis who find themselves pressed for time, this is the best option for wine tasting as it doesn't require any extensive travel from the airport. In fact, unlike Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, visitors can reach Constantia with a simple Uber ride.
The vineyards in Constantia are unique due to their proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. The vines feed off of rich decomposing granite soils and are chilled by arctic sea fog.
This estate lives up to its name, which translates to "Beyond Expectations". The vineyard is a part of the Constantia wine trail. The premises are centuries old, taking up over 150 hectares of land and comprising of over 30 homes for the massive team of full-time staff and their families.
- Address: Buitenverwachting, Klein Constantia Road, Constantia, Cape Town
Visit this estate for a few hours of wine tasting and a delectable lunch.
For wine enthusiasts who want to see the entirety of the Cape Town Winelands, travel along the Constantia wine route to other notable estates. Some of the best ones include Constantia Steenberg, Beau Constantia, Groot Constantia, and Eagle's Nest.
This has been a short introduction to wine tourism in South Africa. No matter where tourists end up, there's no going wrong. The land is ideal for the cultivation of rich and complex wines of the highest quality.