I love a good day trip. And I love wine. So a day trip and wine. Perfect.
South African wine country lies around an hour from Cape Town. If you have enough time, I really recommend an overnight stay to make the most of it (and not feel awful on the journey back!). This area has some of the most beautiful hotels in the country, with stunning views out to lush rolling vineyards. Delaire Graff estate is beautiful, as is Lanzerac but you can’t really go wrong. They’re all stunning.
Unfortunately for us, we only had enough time to visit as a day trip. It goes without saying that I don’t recommend driving for this excursion – unless you’re the tee-total one of the group!
The main towns that tours to the wine region visit are Paarl, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. This region of the Cape winelands is home to some of the world’s most prestigious wineries, so knowing a bit about your wines before you go is also good. South Africa produces Methode Cap Classique which is a sparkling wine made like Champagne but far less expensive as you’re not paying for the brand. My favourite of the ones I tried was Babylonstoren. South Africa also makes Pinotage which is completely unique to South Africa. I didn’t love it, but it was good to try something new.
Here are a few of the places I visited which I would thoroughly recommend if you’re planning a winelands trip.
ONE. Ernie Els Wine
Ernie Els is a famous South African golfer, and his vineyards unsurprisingly are also home to a golf course. You can play some golf on the chipping greens and finish it with food in the top class restaurant and a bottle of amazing wine. Or, if golf isn’t your thing, you can do a wine tasting with stunning views out over the Stellenbosch region rolling vineyards.
It’s also worth mentioning that this winery is currently being refurbished with a state of the art new tasting room. It’s set to re-open in winter 2020 so get your bookings in!
Lanzerac is a Stellenbosch historical icon, established in 1692. It’s the epitome of old world charm and idyllic rolling vineyards. There are beautiful mountain views and stunning gardens. Lanzerac also offers not just wine tasting, but is also hotel and spa which makes for a great choice of overnight venue. There is also a cellar which you can visit which made for a unique experience I definitely recommend. It’s also close to the town of Stellenbosch, so is perfect to combine with a visit there.
Chamonix is another wine estate that comes complete with restaurant and accommodation. You can also pay extra to do a cellar tour here, too.
It also offers a unique experience in its ‘Wine & Game Drive’ experience which combines a tasting and then a drive through the winelands region to discover its wildlife, including zebra and other animals. This experience also allows you to get on the Franschhoek wine tram (I feel like we all need more wine trams in our lives!)
Also when in Franschhoek you can visit the lovely little town hall, and the picturesque Huguenot Monument Memorial and Museum, which tells the story of the cultural influences brought to the region by the French and Belgian protestants who settled in the area after fleeing Europe’s religious persecution of the time. Franschhoek also makes a great stop for lunch if you don’t want to spend as much money as you would eating in one of the wineries.
Fairview is another winelands icon, founded in 1693. This vineyard is slightly different to others as it’s actually a working farm and known as the Fairview Wine Farm. On site is a deli selling the produce, plus a bakery.
You can do wine tastings here, but also with an extra amazing twist and add cheese. Honestly, it just doesn’t get any better than wine from the vineyards and cheese from the farm!
I don’t think you can go too wrong visiting the winelands. If I had to pick a favourite I would actually choose the Fairview wine farm because it really feels like a family. The cheese was amazing and the wine so good – it had a huge focus on ethics and integrity and felt like a community. It was also a bit more laid back than some of the other venues so I felt more at home there than in the super swanky tasting rooms.
Wherever you choose to visit on your winelands trips, I’m sure you will have an amazing time! Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.