South Africa’s Cape winelands boast some of the most breathtakingly beautiful scenery in the world, with steep mountains rubbing shoulders with rolling hills, rippling rivers and stunning coastline.
The Cape winelands is the perfect destination for the daring wine lover to discover colourful, historic wine routes. Cape Town is less than an hour’s drive from many of them and this cosmopolitan city with its lively bars and restaurants makes the perfect base to explore this fascinating region and its unique natural scenery.
The Coastal Region is the most important wine-producing area in the Western Cape, accounting for almost half the area under vine in the whole of South Africa. The Cape wine route will lead you through historic regions such as Darling, Cape Point, Constantia, Stellenbosch and Paarl and enable you to admire well-preserved Cape Dutch architecture, much of which dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries. South Africa’s wine industry began here, especially in historic Constantia and Stellenbosch. The Cape’s second Governor, Simon van der Stel, established the wine estate at Constantia and was instrumental in the founding of the town of Stellenbosch in 1679, which he named after himself.
You can sample a variety of wines from rich, robust reds from Pinotage, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, to cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. You should also taste Sauvignon Blanc wines produced from grapes grown, rather unusually, on bush vines or some old-vine Chenin Blanc, South Africa’s flagship white variety. Incidentally, South Africa is one of the few places where this variety really shines outside its Loire home. And refreshing Cap Classique traditional method bubbly is made from Champagne varieties Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – perfect to sip overlooking the ocean.
Chenin Blanc, South Africa’s flagship white variety, really shines outside its Loire home. And refreshing Cap Classique traditional-method bubbly made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is perfect to sip overlooking the ocean.
Picturesque Constantia, just 15 minutes by car from the centre of Cape Town is one Cape Town wine route you should not miss. Famous in the past for its unfortified dessert wines from Muscat Blanc, Vin de Constance, greatly favoured by European nobility, Constantia is now better known for its premium, cool-climate Sauvignon produced from vineyards high up on the slopes of the Constantiaberg Mountain, which possesses some of the steepest slopes in South Africa. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot thrive further down the slopes and marry to produce full-bodied Bordeaux Blends. Winemakers have also created a modern take on the historic Vin de Constance. Sometimes dubbed Cape Town’s vineyard, it’s a great way to escape the city into magnificent mountain countryside, explore its unique blend of historic wine homesteads and stylish new boutique wineries, and taste a wide range of premium wines of world-class quality.
Stellenbosch is perhaps South Africa’s most famous wine-producing region, home to some of its best-known estates and yet another wine route Cape Town makes the perfect base for discovering. Cabernet Sauvignon is the region’s calling card and its most planted variety; it’s often also combined with Merlot to produce premium Bordeaux Blends. Stellenbosch dominates the South African wine scene in terms of quality, but also quantity as nearly one fifth of all South African vines can be found here. The town of Stellenbosch is the country’s second oldest settlement after Cape Town and is thus steeped in history. The town still resonates with traditional allure with many old white-washed buildings crowding its oak-lined streets. Not only does the town retain a distinct charm, the backdrop is stunning too, with the peaks of the mountains encircling the town always visible. This quaint town is also achieving success as a top wine and dine destination.
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