Find out what to expect from a visit to the Cape Winelands in South Africa, from the many different wine growing areas to cosy historic little towns, unique wine tastings, award-winning food, luxury accommodation and exciting wildlife experiences.
I never get tired touring the magnificent Cape Winelands in South Africa. It is not only one of the leading new world wine producing regions, the opportunities of engaging in unique wine experiences along with several other exiting activities are huge in the area.
If you are a wine lover travelling to wine regions, in my opinion the Cape Winelands must be on your bucket list. Your only regret coming here will be not having stayed longer.
Lovely tasting rooms, excellent restaurants and in many cases even on-site accommodation couple with breathtakingly beautiful landscape make the Cape Winelands one of the most accessible regions for wine tourists.
Below I am listing six awesome reasons why you should plan a visit to the Cape Winelands in South Africa.
The Cape Winelands offer a wide diversity of wine growing areas and wineries
Your first question when planning a trip to the Cape Winelands will likely be, what is the best location to go and which wineries to explore.
When talking about the Cape Winelands, most people will immediately think of the major historic wine growing areas of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, with Paarl and Constantia trailing close behind (even though the latter is actually the oldest wine growing area in South Africa).
There is a good reason to visit these areas, especially if you are new to the region.
The major historic wine areas are close to Cape Town (about 20 minutes to Constantia and around 45 to Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl) and offer an eclectic mix of the country’s oldest wineries located in classic, century old Cape Dutch buildings to the more recent modern and funky structures.
However, the Cape Winelands are much more; and the areas where wine is grown are actually still expanding.
These smaller but dynamically evolving wine regions include Breedekloof, Robertson Wine Valley, Elgin, Bot River, Hemel-en-Aarde, Swartland, the Klein Karoo or even the Plettenberg Bay wine route.
Wineries in these areas are mostly smaller, family-led businesses yet the majority nevertheless offers a tasting room and several will also offer food and even accommodation.
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The Cape Winelands offer a large range of unique wine tasting experiences
In my opinion, there is no other region in the world that offers such a huge range of unique wine tasting opportunities.
Off course, each winery will have their range of wines available for visitors to pick and try in the tasting room.
But many wineries will offer you more than simply going for a tasting of two, three, four or five different wines.
The real treat is to go for one (or several) of the really unique wine tasting experiences offering food and wine pairings that will blow your mind.
Think wine and macarons, wine and cupcakes, wine and cheesecake, wine and ice cream and many more.
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Enjoy a fantastic gourmet food offer across the Cape Winelands
It’s no secret that wine regions are fantastic places for excellent food.
Eating out in South Africa, and in particular the wine growing regions is a real feast.
Franschhoek is known as the country’s gourmet capital and you will find one restaurant after the next sitting along Main Street, literally.
Many more excellent restaurants, cafes and farm stalls are found across the many other small wine growing towns.
In my opinion, however, today some of the best dining opportunities are to be found at wineries who over the past years have been seriously upping their game from being excellent wine tasting facilities to become places of full-blown culinary experiences.
The Cape Winelands are dotted with many charming small towns
The Cape Winelands are dotted by many small historic towns which are a delight to be explored.
Surely Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl should be on your list, offering Georgian, Cape Dutch and Victorian architecture along with many small shops selling art, crafts and fashion.
Outside of the major historic wine growing areas, explore the towns of Worcester, Robertson, McGregor in the Breede Vally, Montagu, Barrydale, Oudtshoorn or De Rust in the Klein Karoo, and a bit further away Hermanus close to Hemel-en-Aarde.
An abundance of luxury hotels across the Cape Winelands
There is no shortage of luxury accommodation across the various regions of the Cape Winelands from beautiful small boutique hotels to country houses, cottages and wine estates. Once you have checked in you will have a hard time to leave again.
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Amazing wildlife experiences in the Cape Winelands
A trip to South Africa’s Western Cape is the perfect occasion to add some amazing wildlife experiences to your agenda.
Believe it or not, you can even see the Big Five staying close to the wine regions.
Driving Route 62, the world’s longest wine route from Cape Town to De Rust in the Klein Karoo, you find Sanbona Wildlife Researve, one of the largest private game reserves in the Western Cape just outside of Barrydale. Stay for a day or two to see the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and Cape buffalo) along with zebras, giraffes, springbok, klipspringer, kudu, hippos, baboons and several more.
Continuing on Route 62 into the Klein Karoo you will reach ostrich land with a large number of ostrich farms close to Oudtshoorn. In addition, you can also go on a mercat safari just outside of Oudtshoorn.
More opportunities seeing wild animals close to the Cape Winelands include the penguin colonies at Boulders Beach just outside Cape Town or those at Stony Point at Gordons Bay close to Grabouw in Elgin Valley.
Walker Bay and Hermanus, with the emerging wine regions of Elgin, Bot River and Hemel-en-Aarde are also famous for whale watching with large numbers of southern right whales congregating here from June to November.
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Have you been to the Cape Winelands yet? What was your favourite winery and what else did you do than wine tasting?