*Article written by our Cape Town tour guide, Pam McOnie. Pam is our exceptional tour guide who offers private guiding services and gourmet and wine tours of the Cape region. She is acclaimed for her fantastic, customized tours, which have been featured in Departures Magazine.

South Africa’s spectacular Cape Winelands countryside is not just breathtaking in its beauty; it’s also one of the top wine-producing regions in the world (the eighth largest to be exact). Wine was first produced in this area in the mid 1600s, thanks to the Dutch East India Company, but didn’t gain popularity until recently.

Some of the best regions within Cape Winelands to explore include Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek, Darling, and Cederberg. Visitors to these areas can enjoy private wine tasting tours on century-old estates, create their OWN wines, go on a horseback wine tasting safari, embark on a bicycle ride along the countryside, or enjoy a food and wine pairing picnic among the vines.

Spice Route

This is so much more then just a winery! It is an artisanal playground of fun, which is all located on one estate. Here you can enjoy . . .

  • A wine tasting of the fantastic wines that are all produced from bush vine cultivars. This is truly unique, as most of the world only has trellised vines. Do not miss out on tasting the Spice Route Malabar, which is a fantastic, spicy red blend.
  • A Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Tasting experience of single-origin chocolates from around the world. It is fascinating how the growing conditions change the flavor profile of the chocolate. The chocolate is produced on the premises and you can see how it’s made.
  • Visiting a craft brewery called the Cape Brewing Company. They do educational beer tastings.
  • A visit to Barley & Biltong — a lovely beer tavern restaurant where you can have a pint of the CBC beers with a light lunch or a bowl of biltong made from beef or antelope.
  • A visit to the glass blowing company called Red Hot Glass (they do the glass blowing on site).
  • A visit to a grapperia that also has an Italian restaurant.

Location: Paarl Wine Region
Website: www.spiceroute.co.za

Fairview Wine and Cheese

Charles Back’s Fairview is home to a large range of wine, plus a great collection of specialty cheeses. They are most famous for their shiraz. Charles is also a pioneer in the South African wine industry and has been the first to experiment with a large variety of varietals that had never been planted here. I would recommend doing the master tasting here as it allows you to taste a variety of their top wines, which are all paired with cheeses.

Location: Paarl Wine Region
Website: www.fairview.co.za

Waterford Wine Estate

This estate is home to the extremely talented winemaker Kevin Arnold. He is one of our most famous winemakers and makes fantastic shiraz. They do a great range of white and red wines, which are all excellent. The tasting area resembles visiting a winery in the South of France. It is a wonderfully relaxing spot to visit. Here, you can do a chocolate and wine pairing with chocolates that are produced by a Belgian chocolate maker to specifically enhance the flavor of the wines.

Location: Stellenbosch Wine Region
Website: www.waterfordestate.co.za

Stark Conde

This must be one of the most beautiful estates in the world. The estate is surrounded by dramatic mountains and the views are breathtaking! The wine tasting room is innovative as it is a Balinese house in the middle of their dam. The winemaker, Jose Conde, is an American who decided to move to South Africa. He has won awards for his wines since the first barrel he experimented with! Since then, the awards have just kept rolling in for the cabernets and shiraz!

Location: Stellenbosch Wine Region
Website: www.stark-conde.co.za

Creation Wines

This is a partnership between two Swiss winemakers. One of the Swiss winemakers is married to a South African and they live permanently on the estate. The Hermanus region is famous for its pinot noir and its chardonnay. These guys have planted those varietals — and more. They have a fantastic range of wines that are all worth tasting. It is great fun to book the food and wine pairing here and to relax in their lovely restaurant and enjoy the view. Note that for weekends this must be booked well in advance.

Location: Hermanus Wine Region — about a 2.5-hour drive from Cape Town
Website: www.creationwines.com

Morgenster Estate

Morgenster is home to one of the world’s top olive oils. Here, you can do a tutored olive oil tasting, and taste their olives and their superb Bordeaux-style wines. They also boast a range of Italian Wine varietals — which makes for a fun tasting experience!

Location: Hottentots Holland Wine Ward / Stellenbosch
Website: www.morgensterestate.co.za

Dorrance Wines

French owner, Christoffe, has just opened a cellar door tasting experience in the city centre of Cape Town. This is wonderful to visit as you can see the cellar and taste his award-winning wines. His winemaking style is distinctly different and it is an absolute treat to step into this lovely, dark, and fun spot in the city. I would recommend tasting the full range. I particularly enjoy his chardonnay. He also sells a fun range of French products and offers French cheese tasting plates with the wines.

Location: City Centre Cape Town
Website: www.vinsdorrance.co.za

De Toren

De Toren is extremely focused on red blends. They do nothing by half measures and there is one ton of passion that goes into this farm. It is a return to the old fashioned way of making wine — hand selection, hand harvesting, basket presses, etc. De Toren Wines are some of the most award-winning wines in the country and it is well worth a visit. The estate only offers tastings by appointment and you need to be a real passionate wine person to be granted the appointment. The winemaker, the owner, or the viticulturist always hosts the visit. It is a treat to be with them and for them to spend the next two hours with you — you need to be someone who enjoys red wine blends, or there is no point in the visit! The appointment entails a visit to the vineyards to chat about their philosophy on growing the grapes and is followed by a visit to the cellar and then the winetasting. It takes about 1.5 hours. On inquiring for an appointment they will ask you about your wine preferences!

Location: Stellenbosch
Website: www.de-toren.com

Constantia Glen

This is an idyllic location on top of a mountain in Constantia. It is located in a lovely cottage with sweeping views. You are here to taste two fantastic red blends — the Five and the Three. One has five varietals in the blend and the other three. This spot has become a magnet for lunch with everyone enjoying charcuterie and cheese platters with lovely freshly baked bread. It is lots of fun to simply relax and do your wine tasting while you nibble on one of the platters. Also get a biltong and droe wors platter to taste some of the local dry cured meats.

Location: Constantia is a 20-minute drive from Cape Town City
Website: www.constantiaglen.com

Ernie Els Wines

Located on top of a mountain with sweeping views of vines and the valley below, the Ernie Els estate belongs to the famous South African golfer, Ernie Els. He appointed one of the country’s top winemakers, so you have an excellent combo of great wine, with the Ernie name. The architecture is contemporary and beautiful and you can sit and relax while enjoying the view. Tip: Ask your tasting person to show you the cellar afterwards and Ernie’s private tasting room. Note there is lots of golf merchandise for sale — naturally!

Location: Stellenbosch
Website: www.ernieelswines.com

*For comprehensive maps of Cape Town, visit: http://www.capetown.travel/content/page/maps-guides

For additional questions, please contact Hills of Africa Travel at 800.940.9344 or explore@hillsofafrica.com.

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