What’s a visit to The Mother City without a trip (or two) into the Cape Winelands? Known for their spectacular beauty and incredible wines, many of them now offer even more to delight the taste buds – cheeses, olives, charcuterie, to name a few. Here, we’ve hand-picked a small selection of top Cape wine farms to help you decide on your routes.
Established in the 1600’s by Simon van der Stel, Groot Constantia is the Grand Old Lady of wine farms in Cape Town itself. Steeped in history and splendid, it has ancient oaks, rolling vineyards, beautiful Cape Dutch architecture and a view across to False Bay.
Taste wines and go on a cellar tour before visiting the museum for some insight into the stories of this beautiful farm and city. Groot Constantia has two restaurants over and above the tasting room, Jonkershuis and Simon’s.
The farm grows 70% red grapes and 30% white and produces whites, reds, and a beautiful salmon-coloured Blanc de Noir.
Cape Point Vineyards
Think you have to head inland to visit a wine farm? Think again. Take a drive along the incredibly scenic Chapman’s Peak Drive and visit the Cape Point Vineyards. Enjoy a meal or a picnic at this spectacular farm, with 360-degree views of fynbos, mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.
The farm produces a number of white wines under the Cape Point Vineyards label and a white and red under the Splattered Toad label. These are named after the endangered Cape Leopard Toad, who have an unlucky pre-occupation with crossing the roads at night – thus the name, and their place on the endangered list.
In the foothills of the spectacular Witzenberg Mountains (storybook snow-capped in winter), between Ceres and Tulbagh, is the organic farm Waverley Hills. Producing olives, grapes and wine, they pride themselves on their environmental consciousness.
The farm uses no pesticides or fertilizers and their wines contain less than 50% of the sulphur in conventional wines. This is environmentally-friendly wine drinking!
If you’re looking for somewhere with spectacular views for wine tasting and a meal, this is the place. The restaurant offers fresh, locally-sourced dishes and includes a five-course food and wine pairing. In winter this can be enjoyed next to a roaring fire, in summer, on the large verandah. Picnic baskets are also available for perfect summer days.
Picnic with views that'll leave you breathless at Waverley Hills.
Inland from the West Coast and close to Darling, is Groote Post. Originally a dairy farm (and before that, Lord Charles Somerset’s ‘shooting box’ in the early 1800s), it is now dedicated to making wines, and damn fine wines at that!
They produce a range of reds, whites and a fabulous rose Brut, including the wonderfully-named and easy-drinking Old Man’s Blends.
Hilda’s Kitchen, the restaurant on the farm, has recently won a number of awards and serves lunch, Wednesday to Sundays. Do a wine tasting, enjoy a fantastic meal, and then head into Darling to catch Pieter Dirk Uys performing at Evita se Plafon!
Driving over the Bothmanskloof Pass from Malmesbury, the Riebeek Valley opens up before you, with the spectacular Kasteelberg mountain watching over it. Kloovenberg farm, which is over 300 years’ old, sits at the foot of the mountain, its vineyards and olive groves climbing up it.
Entering through their majestic old Cape Dutch Gateway, the ancient oaks tower over you as you’re welcomed by the farm’s golden labradors (or one of the four du Toit sons). Do a wine tasting, try their delicious olive products and get some fabulous olive beauty products to take home. They make a White From Red Sparkling Wine (the name says it all), amongst both white and red wines.
Goats. In a tower. Do we need say more?
Known not only for its great wines, but also its award-winning cheeses, Fairview has the iconic goat tower, with goats trailing up and down its spiral walkway on the outside, to welcome you.
Fairview was the first farm to produce goat’s milk cheeses in South Africa, starting in the 1980’s. They now have an award-winning range of both goat’s and cow milk cheeses, which can be tasted at the farm, with or without their delicious wines.
The Fairview label includes a wide range of red and white wines. Be sure to try the aptly named Goats Do Roam range, the first wines produced from Fairtrade-certified grapes. And buy a couple of bottles for the folks at home… A percentage of sales will be put into various community development programmes in the area.
Taste cheeses while you sip on wine at Fairview.
Babylonstoren is like a wine farm drawn by an architect. It has incredibly beautifully restored old Cape Dutch buildings, complemented by designed market gardens – from fruit to vegetables, herbs to chickens (I know, chickens aren’t plants!), it’s a pleasure to amble through. And they have donkeys.
They offer guided tours of the gardens or allow you to roam freely. At the Farm Shop and tasting room you can not only taste and buy their wines, but also buy a range of deli products – cheeses, meats and artisanal breads. These are served, too, at their Babel and Green House Restaurants.
Simplicity and freshness abound here, with the majority of what you eat (and drink), coming straight out of the gardens you walk through. It’s a slick, well-run, and very beautiful place.
Near Franschhoek, Moreson is known not only for its delicious wines, but for its charcuterie too. They produce a range of red and whites and MCC. One of their ranges, endearingly named after their weimeraner, Miss Molly, has part of all proceeds donated to the Guide Dog Association.
This family-run farm boasts a tasting room and restaurant – aptly named Bread & Wine – that serves delicious, fresh food, including the well-known charcuterie delights (and breads) of Neil Jewell who, with his family, also live on the farm. With tables situated under big trees, the stream flowing by next to it, it’s the perfect place for a long, lazy, summertime lunch.
Heading out toward the beautiful mountains of Franschhoek one comes across Solms-Delta. This farm is interesting on a number of levels. Firstly, it is one-third owned by the previously-disadvantaged people who have always worked on the farm, a social partnership that is reaping great rewards for all involved. A museum on the farm portrays its history.
Secondly, Solms-Delta make wines using desiccated grapes, which is said to concentrate flavour and colour. This ancient Greek process sees the grapes left on the vines to dry out before being used to make wine.
The farm offers six specialised wine and garden tours with much emphasis based on the history. Tasting of the nine wines produced are conducted in the museum or outside under magnificent oaks. Fyndraai, the restaurant, serves traditional Cape Malay food. It’s worth a visit for not only the delicious dishes it offers, but also for the glass floor, which reveals the foundations of the original wine cellar (c. 1740).
Situated just outside Stellenbosch, this is one of the oldest wine farms in the Cape, dating back to 1700. With extensive gardens, two restaurants and picnics in the forest, wine cellar and garden tours, a library and a great range of award-winning wines to sample, you can easily spend an entire day here.
Vergelegen wines are produced in their mostly underground cellar, which allows them to use gravitational flow. They produce red and white wines and a very special, limited edition Brut (2008). Go on a cellar tour and learn the intricacies of making these spectacular wines, and then enjoy a tasting.
A visit to the library and then an amble around the gardens, seeing the camellias and rose gardens, followed by a nap on the grass under the ancient camphor trees, will make for a perfect afternoon. Listen to the breeze rustling through the leaves of the trees, telling the stories of this old farm.
As if wine tasting is not the most delicious treat, Waterford have taken it a step further, offering wine and chocolate tasting. Chocolatier Richard von Geusau has created a series of dark and milk chocolates to pair with Waterford wines, enhancing the flavour of both. Pure heaven.
Waterford also pride themselves on their aim to preserve the natural fynbos environment of the area, so have left large tracts of land uncultivated. They offer a ‘Wine Drive Safari’ in a game-viewing landrover to showcase the beauty of the natural environment of the Blaauwklippen valley outside Stellenbosch, in which Waterford lies.
Get chocolate/wine pairing tasting at Waterford Wines.
Did you know that you can do olive oil tastings too? No? Well, you can, and the place to do it is Morgenster, outside Somerset West. This beautiful farm, dating back to the 1700s, was bought by Giulio Bertrand, an Italian, who has established not only an award-winning wine range, but an olive oil one too.
The farm is beautiful and dates back to 1711. Enjoy a wine and olive – and we’re talking whole olives, olive oil, olive pastes – tasting on the patio of the beautifully-designed tasting room on the banks of the dam.
If you’re wanting to visit a farm with a solid philosophy and an environmental and social conscience, Reyneke Wines, outside Stellenbosch, is the place to visit. The farm is run ‘holistically’ with huge focus on sustainability and the people of the farm.
With careful thought put into every aspect of the farm – from recycling; to diversifying plants (and animals) on the farm to return to a more naturally biodiverse environment; to focussing on the people on the farm – they produce environmentally-conscious organic wines.
The farm produces a range of red and white wines.
Book a wine tasting at Reyneke Wines and support environmentally-concious farming.
For something a little different, visit Winters Drift’s Tasting Station and Platform 1 Eatery. These are situated in the original Elgin Station. Expect your tasting/meal to be interspersed with the sound of a grain-laden train passing by, two or three still run per day.
Winters Drift produce two reds, two whites, and a rose, which can be tasted at the Tasting Station. Aptly, the bar is made from old railway sleepers and the whole place is filled with old railway memorabilia.
Food is served – locally-sourced, sustainable, where possible – at the Platform 1 Eatery. The menu changes with the seasons, to ensure its as fresh and delicious as possible, and wine can be bought at cellar door prices. Picnic baskets can also be pre-ordered.
To book a tasting/meal, contact Winters Drift here.
The Hemel-en-Aarde Valley lies just inland from the coastal resort of Hermanus. It is spectacularly beautiful. Situated at one of the highest elevations in the valley is the relatively new wine farm Ataraxia. The view from their chapel-styled tasting room has to be seen to be believed.
Their range consists of three wines – a wooded Chardonnay, an unwooded Sauvignon Blanc, and a red blend. Pop in for a tasting and the breathtaking view and then head down to Moggs Country Cookhouse, a family-run restaurant in the valley with food (and views) that'll leave you awestruck.
If you're considering a trip to Cape Town, starting or finishing a multi-day trip there, we've listed a selection of recommended tours below which represent a cross-section of various travel styles, budgets and comfort levels.
If you've visited any of the wine farms we're featuring above, please also let us know in the comments below. What sort of experience did you have, and which was your favourite?