Although the country’s most prominent wine region is clustered around the Cape Winelands in the west, beyond there is a collection of South African wine routes to explore – each with their own individual personality.
While most of the country’s vineyards are scattered across the West Cape regions – including Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Constantia around Cape Town – wine enthusiasts can explore a South African wine route as far afield as the Northern Cape, the Orange Free State, and even the KwaZulu-Natal midlands to sample world-class varietals including Pinotage, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. There are currently 17 ‘official’ South African wine routes constituted by geographical wine-growing location, as well as several special interest wine routes such as the Cape 62 wine route, believed to be the longest in the world, and the Green Mountain Eco route – the world’s first biodiverse wine route.
At Wine Paths, our local expert can organise private exclusive experiences across a personalised South Africa wine route that visits a selection of wineries to enjoy elaborate tastings, luxury accommodation, gourmet dining and unique activities. Since South African wine routes are so diverse and designed to showcase a particular region’s best wines and wine making traditions, here is an overview of the country’s most important routes:
Established in 1971, Stellenbosch is believed to be the oldest South African wine route and the catalyst for the country’s ever increasing wine tourism industry. This leading wine region plays host to more than 200 acclaimed estates fringed by spectacular mountain views. Among our private tours is a visit to the award winning Kanonkop Estate, which has been described as the South African equivalent of Grand Cru. Visitors are met by the owner or Cellar Master before tasting all five current vintages as well as three older vintages of Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Paul Sauer.
As well as offering breathtaking scenery, fine wines and the welcoming atmosphere of a small village, Franschhoek is also considered to be the culinary capital of South Africa. The diverse soils and relatively high rainfall in this South African wine route produce a wide variety of wines from several award-winning estates that visitors can taste while simultaneously enjoying an unforgettable gourmet break. Franschhoek also produces the sparkling wine variety Method Cap Classique, which can be sampled along with several other premium still wines paired with a gourmet meal in the grounds of the Haute Cabriere Estate – before taking a winelands game drive.
In the cradle of the wine making Cape, the Constantia wine route is one of the country’s most famous. Historically, this is where the first vineyards were planted – while Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have been so enamoured by the eponymous sweet wine allegedly, refused anything else from his deathbed. For a wine tour experience on a smaller scale, a visit to the region’s beautiful boutique winery Constantia Glen includes a guided tour of the vineyards and cellar, wine tasting paired with a cheese and charcuterie platter and a bottle of the estate’s Sauvignon Blanc.
The Egin Valley contains 18 wine producing estates, including Mofam, Panorama and Somersfontain. Traditionally an apple growing region, the exquisite valley scattered with orchards is also part of the Four Passes Fruit Route – while wines from the region include Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. Wine Paths’ tour of the Elgin Valley visits two of the region’s premier wineries: the Almenkerk Wine Estate and Oak Valley Estate for tastings, cellar tours, blending demonstrations and gourmet meals.
As a sub-route of Stellenbosch, Helderberg envelopes more than 20 wine estates ranging from a 300 year-old historical cellar to state-of-the-art boutique wineries.
Visit our South Africa destination page for inspiration before designing your own trail around the South African wine route.